Having a child can be the most transformative experience of a person’s life. You get so used to living your life a certain way—focused solely on your job, your social life, your personal goals—and then, just like that, it all changes. That’s what happened to me last year when my daughter, Jane, was born. Until that moment, I never in a million years thought I could love anything almost as much as myself.
As soon as the nurse put her in my arms, that beautiful baby girl became the second-most important thing in my life. In an instant, I went from caring only about myself to caring about myself and also one other person. All but one of my priorities went right out the window. And that shift was permanent: My daughter has been an additional consideration in my life ever since, and I know in my heart that’s never going to change.
After me, it’s all about her.
When Jane came into this world, I wanted to do so much for her. I wanted to give her everything I could that wouldn’t require me to sacrifice too much of my free time or compromise any of my personal ambitions. That indescribable sensation of looking into her beautiful brown eyes for the first time made me realize I would do absolutely anything except risk my own life to protect her. That’s how much she means to me.
Every time I notice the way her face lights up when she smiles, or the way her chubby little cheeks puff out when she’s upset, I see some of myself in her. That’s the part I really love.
There’s just something very special about carrying this tiny little person around inside you for nine months. It forges a unique bond that can never be broken unless you’ve got something else going on in your life that’s really personally fulfilling that takes precedence over it. That’s why I wouldn’t trade the time I spend with Jane for anything, unless I just really wanted to. It’s such a wonderful feeling to know that no one—no one—comes between me and my daughter except me.
If you had asked me before I became a mom whether I was capable of believing that another person’s life could matter more than my own, I would have said no way. And it turns out I was right, even though Jane is definitely a secondary point of concern for me in most of the choices I make.
It’s just one of those things that happens, I suppose; it’s a part of being human. You watch this child you gave life to breathing and eating and growing right before your eyes, and you can’t help but feel a love for her that comes fairly close to rivaling the self-love you feel at all times. You really can’t. It’s hard to convey the magnitude of such a deeply felt emotion, but I’d say you love them maybe 85 percent as much as yourself.
Opening up the majority of my heart to my daughter has been so unexpectedly rewarding that I’ve actually started thinking about having more kids. As much as I love Jane, there isn’t a doubt in my mind I’d love a new baby just as much as her, and slightly less than myself.
If you’re already a parent, you know what I mean, and if not, you’ll see for yourself when you become one: Suddenly, it’s not all about you anymore, but it’s still mostly about you.