As I get older, I find myself reflecting on my life more often and marveling at what an amazing journey it’s been. I’ve made tons of great friends, been to magnificent places all over the world, and learned so many important things about myself along the way. But if I’m being honest, there’s one period of my life that stands out from all the rest: those four incredible years when I was a mom.
I’m not exaggerating when I say it, because those were hands-down the best few years of my entire life!
True, it was a lot of work and a tremendous lifestyle change at the time, but that’s exactly what made it so special: that scary but also exciting feeling of committing yourself to a completely new experience. It was a huge step for me, one that challenged me every day from September 7, 2007 to May 20, 2011.
As someone who’d never done anything like that before, embarking on such a big new adventure was terrifying and a bit disorienting—a lot of the time I felt like I was in over my head! Still, I knew I’d hate myself if I didn’t at least try. So I gathered up my courage and dove right in. I really put my heart into it, and sure enough, I quickly discovered that even with all of its hardships and demands, motherhood was really rewarding and fun!
Looking back now, had I recognized those “mommy years” were going to be over so quickly, I probably would have tried to appreciate them more. I hate to say it, but I took doing all those maternal things for granted, and didn’t realize how much I’d miss them when they were gone. That really is one of my biggest regrets from that time.
And while it only lasted four years, the experience changed me in deep and long-lasting ways. When I was younger, I thought I had the world figured out. But that brief period, with all its exhilarating highs and crushing lows, really had a major impact on me and shaped me into who I am today. I can honestly say I’m a better person for that nearly half decade I spent being a mom to a young child.
I’d even go so far as to say that the word “mother” completely defined who I was from 28 to 32 years old.
More than anything, though, I remember the fantastic people I met and got to know well, and in some cases formed connections with to last their whole lifetime. We had wonderful times together, and I will never, ever forget them.
I guess the way I talk about it shows how I kind of wish it hadn’t ended! And it’s true—I really do miss those good old days. But at least I can be happy about all the stuff I took away from the experience. And I’ll admit that I sometimes like to look at all the old photos and little mementos from that part of my life—it really takes me back to that amazing time! It’s telling that even with the benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t trade those 40-some-odd months for anything.
And to any young parents reading this: You may be complaining now, but one day, you’ll realize how great this time is. My advice? Savor every minute of it. But if I had to pass on the three most important lessons I’ve learned, I’d say make every decision with love, don’t sweat the small stuff, and you really get what you pay for with pool safety gates.