10 December 2013


from Cleveland Heights, OH, USA

Welcome to the December 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Change . . .
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about life changes.

Life changes constantly. Sometimes minutely; sometimes in grandiose ways.

Having children changes things in profound ways.

Let me show you some pictures.

This was me at fresh-faced twenty-one years of age.

Yeah. That's my then-best friend, totally casually sitting on my face. You know.. the usual.

Here's another one of my favorites. This was actually at work. This is what we did when we had to close down the cute little coffeeshop I worked at.

Again, totally normal.

At 21, I was sure that children would never, ever, not in a million (or about, twenty-ish) years, be in my future. I did not want to get married; I did not want to reproduce.

This is me now.

Properly-clothed. Naturally-colored hair. Down-right conservative. I'll admit, it just took me a little while to find a picture with me actually in it, also. My cache of photos is filled with someone else.

Having a bebe changed everything.

Having a bebe, especially as a single mother, means you are solely responsible for the well-being and development of another human being. There is little that carries more profound weight.

Priorities change. Money is no longer relegated for things like partying, whatever your poison may be. Having good quality food in the house takes precedence. Paying that gas or light bill moves up the list. Making sure that rent or the mortgage is met becomes even more important. Instead of buying baubles and designer clothes for yourself, you find yourself buying brightly-colored toys that provide sensory stimulation and tiny articles of clothing you know you'll never get those stains out of.

Your vocabulary begins to be filled with things like "sensory stimulation," and some of those words you loved to utter before, "free time," "expendable income," "me-time," slowly disappear from everyday use. Instead of picking up that novel you've been dying to read (I honestly, right now, cannot name one book on the New York Times Bestseller list), you're scoping out reading material in the parenting and self-help sections of the bookstore.

You begin to lose touch with friends who don't have children. It gets more difficult all the time to make it out for birthdays or when someone makes it into town for this or that. It becomes impossible at times to even have a phone conversation.

All of the changes seem to be negatives at times. You feel like you are losing yourself.

Instead, you are gaining another large piece of yourself. There is nothing wrong with identifying as a parent, and without that child, without those changes, it is difficult to make that transition and find comfort in the changes.

With a child, you wake up everyday wondering what they will learn or do today. You look forward to creating memories with them and enriching their life. You look forward to loving them and, on most days, having that loved returned in obvious ways, through little hugs and tiny kisses and the sweet, sweet utterance of "Mommy, I love you." As much as you enrich their young lives, they enrich yours and help you to learn more about yourself. They help you become a better person.

You learn to love the changes, and you come to terms with and learn to love the person you become.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon December 10 with all the carnival links.)
  • Mature StudentAmber Strocel is embarking on a new adventure in 2014, by returning to a space in her life she thought she'd left behind - that of being a university student.
  • And then there were four — Jillian at Mommyhood learned how quickly love can grow when welcoming a second child to the family.
  • Handling Change As A Mother (And Why That Takes Things To A Different Level) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she helps her young daughter navigate change and why it is so important, as a mother, to gauge her own reactions to change.
  • Without Dad-One Year Later — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how her life has changed one year after losing her husband suddenly.
  • Family Ties — Lori at TEACH through Love realized that her most significant, most painful wound paved the way for her to share her greatest gift.
  • Rootless — After Dionna @ Code Name: Mama's parents packed up their home and moved to Florida this fall, she is feeling rootless and restless.
  • A Letter to My Mama Self in the Swirl of Change — Sheila Pai of A Living Family shares a letter she wrote to herself to capture and remember the incredible changes from the year, and invites you to do the same and share!
  • Junctionssustainablemum explains how her family has dealt with a complete change of direction this year.
  • Planning, Parenting, and Perfection — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how most of the plans she made for her adult life have worked out differently than she planned, but she's ended up getting a lot of what she really wanted.
  • Why First Grade Means Growing Up... for Both Me and My Daughter — Donna at Eco-Mothering discovers that her daughter's transition into first grade is harder as a parent.
  • First Year of Mothering — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot reflects on the quiet change that took her by surprise this year.
  • Building the Community YOu Desire — A recent move has Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children working toward setting up a new support network.
  • Slowing down in 2013 — A car fire and a surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome made 2013 a very different year than the one Crunchy Con Mommy and family were expecting!
  • The Seven Year Cycle — After 7 intense years of baking, birthing and breastfeeding 6 kids, Zoie at TouchstoneZ wonders, "Will I be enough for what comes next?"
  • Rebirth — Kellie of Our Mindful Life has found that each of her births leaves her a different person.
  • When a Hobby Becomes a Business — This year, new doors opened for That Mama Gretchen's hobby of writing and blogging - it has turned into a side business. She's sharing a bit about her journey and some helpful tips in case you're interested in following the same path.
  • 5 Tips for Embracing a Big Change in Your Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about a big change in her family and shares tips that have always helped her family embrace changes.
  • Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes — Ana at Panda & Ananaso ruminates on how having a child changed her priorities.
  • Homeostasis — Lauren at Hobo Mama is finding that even as elements shift in her life — in cosleeping, homeschooling, breastfeeding, & more — they mostly remain very familiar.
  • Sally go round the sun — A new baby brings joy and unexpected sadness for Douglas at Friendly Encounters, as she is diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.
  • Embrace it — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen muses about the changes in her family this year and how she can embrace them . . . as best she can anyway.
  • Big Change; Seamless but Big — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how one of the biggest changes of her life was also a seamless transition.


  1. "Instead, you are gaining another large piece of yourself." - ah, this line made me a little weepy. re: your past pictures - I think you and I could have been besties in our previous lives ;) We need to get together!

  2. Mmmm.... I love these changes you've listed. I also love that social events end by 9pm because of little ones' bedtimes! Such a homebody, I know :)

  3. I love your description of the positives of being a parent, Ana ... so true! :)

  4. This is a beautiful post, thank you for sharing. The pictures from your past, if I didn't spend my twenties in Atlanta I would be pretty certain that our paths had crossed!

  5. This is a beautiful post, Ana. I laughed, and then I teared up. You win. :)

    I agree that there comes a time when you embrace being a parent and you realize it's ok. It's ok to be a wee bit obsessed with the little ones while they're little, even as it changes you. It took me awhile to accept that, but I'm glad I have!

    I love your pictures, too!