The Many Animals I’ve Been as a Mother


The old adage that motherhood changes you is certainly true. Your desires, goals, and relationships change – the very way you see the world will never be the same.

Obviously, your body is also different once you have a child, but for me, the transformation was extreme. Not only did I not feel like myself anymore, sometimes I hardly felt human.

In fact, over the last few years, I’ve felt like instead of merely becoming a mother, I’ve become a whole zoo of different animals. This menagerie includes:

Sheep: When I had my first baby, I had no clue what I needed to purchase to begin my new mom adventure. I blindly followed the masses and bought what my friends and neighbors bought. I chose my stroller because two friends already owned the same one. Books? Baby food? Toys? I figured if other people liked something enough to recommend it, I might as well try it.

Snake: When he was younger, my son went through a variety of terrible sleep phases. For a long time, he would only fall asleep after my husband or I had been laying on his floor, by his bed, for hours. I had to channel my inner serpent to make my escape. I would press against the floor, my head turned, listening to him. When his breathing slowed, I wiggled toward the door, slithering like a snake, hoping my movement wouldn’t wake him, or else be doomed to repeat the whole process.

Dog: Before I had his brother, I doted on my first son. Oh, how I doted on him. I followed him everywhere, stuck to his side, never leaving him alone. I just wanted to love on him and adore him — he was mine and I was his loyal companion.

Cow: Ok, nursing mothers — this one is self-explanatory, amiright?

Porcupine: My husband and I didn’t fight before we had kids — what was there to fight about? Now, when I’m mad at him, I lay in bed, curled in on myself with my back toward him. I feel my anger like spikes, shooting out from every spot on my skin.

Octopus: Holding my toddler on my hip with my left arm, I crack eggs into the pan, and stir with my right hand. Need salt? I grab it with my left hand and sprinkle it in. Cooking while holding a child or really, doing anything while holding a child is a full-body endeavor. What I wouldn’t give for an extra arm or two (or six?).

Pig: I absentmindedly eat what my children leave on their plates, a carrot or two there, a spoonful of macaroni here. I finish their meals and snacks not because I’m hungry, but because the food is there. I am a pig, or worse — a human garbage disposal.

Bear: Ugh. Winter. Winter is torture with two active boys who just want to run and play and jump and why is it SO cold for SO long? I want to hibernate for months, sleep through the cold and the snow and wake up when we can all go to the playground again.

Duck: You know those nonsensical noises the off-screen parents made in Charlie Brown cartoons? It always sounded like muted quacking to me. Silly, jibber-jabbering background noise. Which is basically all I am to my kids. Put on your shoes! Quack, quack, quack. Eat your dinner! Quack, quack, quack. It would be nice if they spoke my language.

Kangaroo: I love my toddler. I love being close to my toddler. But he is a clingy, mama’s boy who wants to be held constantly. Scratch that — he wants to be held by me constantly. I feel like a kangaroo, like he’s a part of my body now, attached to me. Wherever I go, he goes.

Monkey: Is it gross to admit that I’m a groomer? There’s something so satisfying about extricating a hunk of ear wax or a stubborn booger from my sons. And don’t get me started on Cradle Cap. My older son was born with hair, so I could ignore it fairly easily, but with my younger son, I had to make a conscious effort to stop my roaming hands.

Horse: “Up, up, UUUUUUUUPPPPP,” my toddler yells, realizing he’s not currently being held. He wants to ride on my back, using my hair as his reins. I give in and we gallop around the kitchen. His peels of laughter follow us, making the discomfort worth it.

Chameleon: Sometimes it’s hard to put all the disparate pieces of myself together. I often feel like Mom Jen or Friend Jen or Writer Jen instead of just Jen. I change my personality, my color, when the need arises, but there are times when I’d really just like to feel like me again.

What animals have you been, over the course of raising kids?

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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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