12 Ways Motherhood Has Made Me a Much Cooler Person

Janelle HarrisIt’s 3:30 in the morning and I’m at the laundromat, having a threadbare but friendly conversation with Louis, the Spanish-speaking attendant and flying through my mountain of funky clothes. Some of them I know full well weren’t dirty in the first place; instead of stashing them in the drawers or closet where they belong, Teen Girl often finds it easier to sling them into the hamper and let me send them through a round of unnecessary washing. It irks me — detergent costs as much as a freakin’ date night — but I plod through without grumbling. This time, anyway.

I’m as far from being the finished, fine-tuned product I aspire to be as a woman, much less as a mama, but I like to think I’ve been getting progressively better since October 10, 1998 for a few reasons.

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1. I learned how to be a little more selective about the battles I pick. A few minutes ago, I noticed a smear on the front of one of the dryers. Seems I forgot to check the pockets and homegirl has left a pink lipstick stuffed in some hoodie, which is especially interesting since she’s not allowed to wear makeup. I surprise myself by not freaking out or vowing to firebomb her when I get home. Instead, I pull out the blotchy garments and rewash them, tacking another 45 minutes onto my hangout here at one of my least favorite places in the universe.

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2. Motherhood has made me cooler: I’m definitely more willing to roll with the punches. Though if I didn’t have my laptop to keep me pleasantly distracted, this might not have ended as well.

3. I’m more open about being wrong. The first time I apologized to Girl Child, her jaw flew open like Wile E. Coyote. “Mommy, you’re saying sorry to me?!” she gasped. Yes, mommies can be wrong, too. That ability to just ‘fess up about my shortcomings and fallibilities has spilled over into other relationships. It’s too hard trying to be right allllllll the time.

4. If I’m going to make her eat broccoli and asparagus, I guess I have to eat them, too. I lived on ramen noodles and cherry Kool-Aid in college, but being a mother has forced me to eat healthier (though I am not above spitting stuff into my napkin when she’s not looking).

5. If I can make my own personal peace with — and even pray for — her father despite our tumultuous past, I feel like I should be up for some kind of foreign embassy ambassador-to-somewhere.  

6. Being a mama pushes me to be a role model, which means I have to watch how I react to certain situations. I can be ... shall we say a bit of a pistol? But I’ve curbed my sharp tongue and blossomed into a more diplomatic person for her sake. And, I guess, mine.

7. I’m a bigger student of life. I love to learn anyway, but I feel like if she sees me going to school and reading books and watching stuff on TV besides those dried up Kardashians, she’ll develop her own thirst for knowledge. Hasn’t quite kicked in yet but we’re working on it. And hey, it’s making me smarter in the process.

8. I’m funnier, and she’s definitely got my sense of humor. I was cooking dinner once when she was about 3, maybe 4, and I said, “Oops! I forgot to put the onions in” and like the little whippersnapper she is, she said, “Oops! I forgot to say ‘yuck.’” She’s a constant source of material in my day-to-day comedy routines.

9. I’m a better listener. But I still have a bad habit of formulating my counterpoint the entire time another person is talking so I’m ready as soon as it’s my turn again.

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10. I’m more spiritual. As soon as I became responsible for this little, tiny, impressionable person’s life, I got even deeper into prayer for the guidance and advisement to guide and advise her. And Lord knows I’ve leaned on it when she was going through teething, bad report cards, and her sassy-mouth tweens.

11. I’m more interested in what’s going on in the world around me so I can talk to her about it and answer any questions (in case she ever comes up with some).

12. I’m much more willing to compromise. I mean, there are times when the “my way or the highway” mantra is in full effect. Everything under the sun is not open for negotiation, that’s for sure. But there are areas where I’m willing to be more flexible and entertain suggestions, even from my mini-me.

How has motherhood made you better/faster/stronger/cooler?


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