It’s 4am and I can hear my 8 month old stirring in his cot, talking (or rather babbling and gurgling) to himself. I ignore him and the talking becomes louder, more incessant, as if to say, ‘Mom, I am awake….Mom, can you hear me?….MOM!’ I realise that I can forget about my hope of him going back to sleep, he is awake and he wants to start his day, regardless of how tired his parents are. I throw the blanket back, groggily climb out of bed and walk over to the nursery. As I lean over the cot to look at my little monster, he beams at me. His little arms start flailing around excitedly, his legs are kicking furiously and his face has turned into one big smile. Suddenly, I am not tired anymore, I am overcome with love and I am happy that I am awake to spend another special moment with my son.
As I pick him up and he throws his arms around me, holding on so tight, I laugh and realise that I have changed. For example, I love my sleep and if anybody had dared to wake me up at 4am pre baby, I would have been very rude and grumpy to say the least – my husband in warning, would probably have told you that you are about to unleash the Beast. Now, I of course have to distinguish a random person waking me up from my baby doing the same. Yet, I now no longer wake up angry if my sleep gets interrupted (regardless of who wakes me up). I seem to have accepted that not sleeping is simply a part of life.
This made me think about all the other, more significant changes I have gone through since becoming a Mom. Not the typical changes like household routines or the lack of a social life, but the really important ones – changes which affect my view of life and the world.
I now strongly and convincingly believe in a Higher Power. I have to mention here that I have always believed to a certain degree, but faith or spirituality has never really been a cornerstone of my existence. Yet, nothing quite makes you believe in the miracle of life like a little human growing inside your belly. The mere thought of having created life with life is mind boggling and although it can so easily be explained by science, my heart simply will not let go of the idea that a divine power has to somehow have a hand in creating something as profound as a living human bean, with his own personality, heart and soul.
It is as if having a baby has made my sense of empathy grow. I now really feel for others (even people I do not know) and the difficulty they might be facing instead of merely feigning sympathy because it is the right thing to do. I care, really care, about the well-being of others, about the future of our society and about the fate of our world.
You will remember the picture of the drowned Syrian boy which was circulating in the press and social media in an attempt to show the world the plight of the Syrian refugees, their country ravaged by war, seeking greener pastures. Although a photo like this would have previously pulled at my heart strings, sparking a brief thought or conversation about how terrible this world has become, it would not have affected my daily life in any real way. Now, however, I could not even look at this photo without crying, without sending a prayer to this poor family and for the little boy. The photo and the corresponding thought that a situation so horrific and unthinkable is even possible, still haunts me. It really makes me worry about the countless horrible events which could affect my little family.
Because of this increased sense of empathy, I now am also much more susceptible to negativity, be it negative people, negative emotions or a negative environment. Where I could previously merely shrug off this negativity as something that did not affect me personally, it now disturbs me and it affects my sense of inner happiness and peace. I am therefore now much more conscientious of surrounding myself, and by default my son, with positive energy and people only.
It is important to note however that although I am a lot more sympathetic, I have also become a lot harder in certain aspects. I remember once when I was a teenager arguing with my mother about the existence of a grey area. I was trying to convince her that in life, most things fall within a grey area as most things (people’s actions specifically) are dependent on the framework within which they occur. More specifically people’s actions are clouded by their circumstances, i.e. a thief for example steals food not because he wants to be a criminal, but merely because he is hungry. When therefore judging a person or a situation, one should look at the whole picture and judge accordingly. In a grey world (instead of the black and white world we currently live in), the thief in my example would thus not be sent to prison, but rather be rehabilitated through education, helping him with a job etc.
My mother did not agree with me and she was of course right (as mothers usually are). The world is black and white and there is only right or wrong, there is no in-between. So even though I have more empathy for others, having Bean (who I am so fiercely trying to protect) has made me realise this: a society in which we can function freely and safely (the type of society I want my son to grow up in) cannot be established based on a grey area. Invading a person’s privacy, or stealing food from someone, food which was going to feed their family, is wrong, regardless of how hungry the thief is. I of course still feel for the plight of the hungry thief and would try and help through various charities, but my son’s individual freedom and safety is of utmost importance.
Becoming a mom has caused the shortfalls of our world and our society to come into stark perspective for me. I am now responsible for a life, a life outside of my own – a life which I, in fact, love more than my own. I want my son to grow up in a better world, in a world filled with goodness, a world where people help each other, a world devoid of negativity.
As Ghandi said, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’. By living this, we not only affect our direct environment with a positive change, we set the example for our children.
Picture Credit: http://www.canva.com