There are many ways that having a baby changes you.
For example, it makes you look like a bag lady. This was an actual term that one of my colleagues used, as I wandered into work one chilly morning, bundled up in my Mum Parka and my Mum Trainers. The old me would not have done that. The old me had a chic, work-appropriate camel coat from Reiss.
The old me considered trainers to be permissible only when doing vigorous exercise. Walking to and from work is not vigorous exercise. Wearing trainers on the daily commute was a Crime of the utmost severity, especially if one had paired those trainers with a work outfit, with which they inevitably clashed. The new me positively revels in such an offence. The new me is thinking about how nice those trainers feel on my feet, as though they were encased in a lovely snuggly blanket with a joyful bounce, and is wondering why didn’t she discover the joys of wearing trainers until so late in life?
The old me wouldn’t countenance buying cheap make up. Cheap make up was the source of all life’s ills. Far better to spend £40 on face powder and assume that all cheaper substitutes were made of powdered lead and arsenic, if you knew it wasn’t likely to be thrown across the kitchen by a toddler. The new me recently bought a foundation for £3.99. It probably is made of powdered lead and arsenic, but, well, £3.99.
The old me was proud of her matching underwear, even if she rarely found an occasion to wear it together. The new me has discovered the joys of Giant Mummy Pants. Once you’ve worn a giant mummy pant, you can simply never go back.
However, amid all these other, arguably negative, changes, and the fact that I will now leave the house make up free without even giving it a second thought, and wellington boots have taken over from Jeffrey Campbell mega-platforms as the accessory du jour, there are other changes too, changes that go far beneath the surface.
And I’m not talking about being, as my mother points out euphemistically, a little bit more “womanly” in the stomach area. Although that, ladies and gentlemen, is also a thing.
I’m talking about the changes that you cannot see. The changes that are inside my head.
Yes, I have become, strange as it is to admit, a NICER PERSON.
This is not something that comes naturally to me. I am not a naturally positive person. I am a bit judgemental and have a tendency to look upon the proverbial glass as half empty.
However, suddenly I seem to find myself thinking that everyone is on their own journey, and perhaps I should walk a mile in their shoes before I judge. Even if those shoes are trainers, with a work outfit.
Suddenly I seem to be able to talk to people-any people-without secretly wondering if they know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” and hence can prove themselves worthy of my time and conversation.
Suddenly, I no longer stress over trivialities, or let other people’s opinions irritate me.
So, I recommend to you all my secret plan for self-improvement. The Secret, if you will. And it doesn’t involve writing positive affirmations on post-it notes and sticking them to the bathroom mirror, or reading terrible books with lengthy subtitles exclaiming things like Reclaim Your Inner Zen Goddess of Mindfulness and Reap the Rewards of Your Success by Influencing People to Love You as You Love Yourself.
The Secret is this: have a baby, and be a nicer person.*
You’re welcome (note I said YOU’RE).
*Or don’t. I’m sure you can be nice without having a baby. I can think of plenty of people who are. And like I said, I’m totally non-judgemental now, so who am I to make any kind of suggestion about how anyone should be living their life?