Identity Crisis 101: A.K.A. Becoming a Parent

the littlest earthquake.

the littlest earthquake.

“It’s a game changer!” 

Before I had kids, I thought this was the lamest thing a parent could say about having children. Of course it’s a game changer! To me, this was glaringly obvious. However, with any major life event, no one ever really knows until they experience it.

Becoming a parent changes your identity. Great-granddaughter, granddaughter, daughter, sister, cousin, niece, friend, student, colleague, girlfriend, fiancée, partner, wife, the list goes on. Whatever the role, it’s long been ingrained into your DNA. With parenting, it’s different. Even though there are 40 weeks to prepare, becoming a parent is not gradual. It’s immediate.

“What do I do now?” “When do I feed her?” “When does he sleep?” “Changing this diaper is not like changing the doll in baby-prep class!” “The thermometer goes where?!!”

Then the questions become more philosophical. “What am I going to teach this baby?” “What values do I want to instill?” “How do I avoid mistakes my parents made?” “Will I?” “What is this baby going to teach me?” “Am I changing?”

Babies can rock people in different ways. Amazing ways. Obvious ways. Subtle ways. One of our doulas referred to bringing a baby home as a mini-earthquake. A ripple effect of how family and friends respond to the arrival of the little peapod can reach far and wide. This also means that new parents might be treated differently.

Friends, family, and colleagues might make assumptions. They might be upset their very close friend’s time and attention is elsewhere. They might come over with food, flowers, and a readiness to roll up their sleeves to help. They might find it weird to see their one-time keg stand champion roommate with a sweet little cherub attached to her boob.

People might freak out a little bit. Just try to not let it freak you out. They’ll come around. The mini-earthquake will settle. People will adjust. And if they don’t, it’s okay.

The frolicking lifestyle new parents might once have had, no longer exists. A simple truth is: free time becomes a luxury. Many parents I speak with have a common default philosophy: there’s only so much time and energy you have as new parents, so if friends and family aren’t understanding and supportive of that, they fall down the priority list. It’s not a vindictive choice. It’s survival.

So, embrace the wild ride that is becoming a parent. The first year can especially be a grind, but there are incredible heart-swelling moments that can change the soul in unexpected ways. Celebrate these moments. Parents deserve it! Because soon enough these babies will be asking where they came from. And that’s an entirely different kind of game changer! – Tera Benoit

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