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how motherhood has changed me…

how motherhood has changed me

how motherhood has changed me

I try not to get all "Ma, ma, ma" (that's like "blah, blah, blah" but for mom things) here on this blog. But every so often I do enjoy reflecting on what's hard, nice, or just unexpected about this stage of life I'm in called Motherhood. I recently got to preview the new movie, Mother's Day, that comes out this weekend (do you know how much I love ensemble casts?!?), and both the humor and errors of motherhood in the film made me reflect on how I've changed since welcoming my first nugget 4.5 years ago.

I know that being a mom isn't for everyone, but for me it's made a big difference in how I see myself, how I present myself, and what I care about. Here are a few examples…

I worry less about what I look like and worry more about being a good person. I can't tell you how much time I spent in my 20's obsessing over my soft and squishy not-so-flat stomach. I was so self-conscious about it and envied girls who could wear bikinis and bare their mid-driffs. Now, my mid-section is even softer and squishier and covered in stretch marks. But I don't care at all. It's the product of carrying my children. Ironically, adding to my imperfections made my insecurities about it go away. Now, I try and make sure not to litter on the street. I make sure I am extra polite to people I come across during my day. And I try and give people the benefit of the doubt and hope that driver cut me off because he had a bad day. I worry about other stuff, but my squishy stomach is not one of them.

I focus more on “today” than “one day”. Sure, I set big goals for my career and I have dreams of buying a dream home or going on great trips. But I used to spend way more time thinking about the future than living in the present. Yes, life is short and we don't know how long we'll be here. But also because I've realized that every day is full of magic and simple things, and those are the moments you remember someday when you get old and reflect back on your life. I'll remember our weekly trips to the farmer's market or our picnics in the park. I'm better now at opening my eyes to all the treasures of life happening right now.

I don’t care what strangers think about me, I care what my family thinks about me. I used to spend so much time making sure I came across in just the right way…to COMPLETE STRANGERS. I worried that the guy at the take-out place thought I was "too Asian" because I ordered the Chinese Chicken Salad for my dinner. I used to put on make-up just to open the door for the UPS delivery person. Why did I even care? Now, it only matters to me what the people close to me think. Was I being too short with my husband during that moment of stress? Did I handle the situation with Ruby correctly where I was both firm but loving? Did I remember to tell my parents I love them the last time we FaceTimed?

I appreciate time to myself more than ever. I used to spend a ton of time by myself with endless hours to do whatever I wanted. I didn't realize how precious and rare that time would someday be. I love my kids and their constant energy, but sometimes this Mama just needs some time quiet time to myself. Now, I revel in that trip to Target to buy toothpaste after the kids go to bed, the quick moment when I can get a latte at my local coffee shop all by myself, or even just getting an eyebrow wax where I can lay still in the quiet (even if hair is being yanked off my face). It feels like the most luxurious treat!

Are there ways that motherhood has changed you? I'd love to know…

P.S. If you like feel good comedies, check out Mother's Day which comes out in theaters tomorrow (starring Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts & Jason Sudeikis). I went from cracking up to bawling my eyes out within a matter of an hour.

*This post is in partnership with Open Road Films. All words are my own.  

{Photo by Bob Cho}


  1. Nice piece ! Of good motherhood changes you ! For me it was more about being organized and efficient. But mostly I’m amazed to see that I can be a mom and keeping my own personality. I feared i would need to completely change but it turns out I can remain myself and this is good. Lastly, I’m a bit envious of your carefree attitude towards your body. I would never denigrate my own body out loud in front of my kids because I want them to know that they are beautiful no matter what, but I’m not where you’re at yet. And when people underline how skinny I am, I always feel awkward like they want to tell me something… I think you’re right, I should care a lot less about what people in general think and trust only my people 😉

  2. As a new mom for me the biggest realization is that I need to be present with my baby and enjoy these early months because they are never coming back. I can slow down work because I can do the same things next year too. I can be at that event another time but for now her first smiles, her cooing and trying to talk to me is an experience I’ll never get again. So I should stop worrying about what’s happening out there and start enjoying these little precious moments with her. I’ll have time for everything else 6 months from now too!

  3. This is a great post. I’m not a mother, but I agree with everything you’ve said. Hopefully, I can be this way too as time passes.

  4. While I am not a mother myself, I really liked seeing how you have changed as a person over the years. I can appreciate (and respect) how you have learned to accept yourself and focus more on your family and yourself as a person. I have followed your blog for years and have loved watching you and your family grow over the years!

  5. I totally feel you on all fronts! I hadn’t quite put my finger on it before, but you articulated it perfectly. I’m more confident and have my priorities more in line than my past superficial childless self.

  6. I totally feel you on all fronts! I hadn’t quite put my finger on it before, but you articulated it perfectly. I’m more confident and have my priorities more in line than my past superficial childless self.

  7. Oh sister…that’s THE question…
    Motherhood is all powerful…it’s life altering…more than any other liminal stage I’d say.
    It’s not that friendships are less important to me now, but they used to be my life and I had a bad day or good day based on who was letting me in the circle and who was keeping me out. Now I just don’t have the time to keep score. My friendships have plenty of breathing room and I’m wayyy less needy than I used to be.
    I connect to moms…even elephant moms in a crazy, vulnerable and unnerving way. When a mom is in pain I feel it and it hurts/aches so bad. My heart is so much more open and sensitive now. Sometimes it consumes me.
    The idea of beauty has changed. Now I’m much more sensitive to the idea of pretty and how limiting and problematic that label can be for a young girl. I’m super pro “you’re smart. you’re kind. your spirit is beautiful” my family and friends may roll their eyes, but I care not.
    I obsess over sleep like I never thought I would.
    I suddenly obsess over coffee way more than I ever thought I would.
    I could go on and on…basically I should just change my name because I’m a completely different person. <3

  8. *elephant moms should have been followed by “all moms even animal moms” I also don’t write as well now that I don’t sleep as well ; )

  9. This was good for me to read today. I’m a relatively new mom and been contemplating how I’ve changed as a result. Good reminder to live more in the present. And totally feel the same way about not caring as much what I look like. It is quite freeing. Thanks Joy!

  10. thanks for sharing. it’s always good to hear about motherhood from another mom so i feel a little bit more normal 🙂 I too feel motherhood has helped me be more understanding and patient with others (most of the time haha)

  11. I loved reading this – its all so very true. I too have been thinking recently on how motherhood has changed me. While I think that at my core I am still the same person, but at the same time I know I am so very different. Motherhood is such a wild ride – and like you, I have been working so hard to stop and cherish the little everyday moments. Its funny how motherhood makes you do that! Thanks for your honesty and this post!

  12. This is a terrific post! I agree on all aspects!
    I found a dish towel that says “Great moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens, and happy kids.” Of course I bought it for myself when kiddo was only a few months old! It serves as a reminder to what really is important. Some Saturdays, I find myself cleaning for longer than I should and I will stop a task and rally everyone to the park. That would have NEVER happened before motherhood! My mindset used to be “gotta finish these next 12 tasks before we go enjoy our weekend.”
    I also find that my brain and memory don’t work as sharply as they used to so I have to be much more Johnny-On-The-Spot with doing things as they come up. (“Oh I will pay bills later” doesn’t work anymore! I have pay it as soon as I go through the mail/email comes in.)

  13. You are so spot on and I would have never guessed you had those insecurities you mentioned….chinese chicken salad, makeup for UPS guy etc 🙂 I agree that I care more about my actions but my mini-me’s are watching. They pick up on ALL of it don’t they! Its ok to be ma ma mama too, I never thought I would totally into being a mom and turn into that girl, but it happened and its allllllll good 😉

  14. I always say my life was like watching a black and white tv before and all of a sudden it’s in screaming color. It was great before but now everything is new and more vibrant because my lense is different. The same content in the world around me but now I see it so differently. Watching the news is just too painful.

  15. I love that analogy. And yes, I feel out of tuned sometimes but the news can be too hard for me to keep up with most times…

  16. haha, yeah, it’s like you don’t want to be talking about it all the time but it really is a different set of things you start to think about!

  17. Love this post! You seem so genuine – love it! Yes, to all those things, but especially the alone time – eek. 🙂
    I used to remember being bored in the evenings with nothing to do – BORED! I have a 3.5 year old and a 7-month old, so am definitely in it right now. Also, love your top? Would you mind sharing where it is from?

  18. Hi Joy! I’m a long time reader, and I’m also Asian (taiwanese) and 24. Your line about being “too asian” ordering chinese chicken salad cracked me up because I’ve always avoided foods with “oriental” and “chinese” or “asian” in them because I just reinforce ideas when I order things like that (or in extreme cases, have a non-asian friend order for me if it sounds really good). Have you ever done any posts about growing up asian in the states? It’s something I’m trying to navigate every day, and now that I’ve started working in a very relaxed, but still corporate setting, it’s gotten all the more complicated (the gender ratios where I work are spot on, the ethnic diversity ones…not so much). I feel like I’m walking around as a HR bomb just waiting to happen. How have you dealt with this? I’m sorry to throw to much at you, but that line really stuck out to me, and powerful women in charge of their own businesses/careers are my idols 🙂

  19. Hello Joy.
    What a sweet and wonderful post. Thank you for sharing. It is always good to reflect and recognize where you are in Motherhood. I am 10 years in and am realizing how fast it all goes by, but I love every minute of it.
    Have a beautiful day,

  20. It’s these posts that make me feel like I’m sitting across the table from you over brunch. Thank you for your candor and genuine take on motherhood.
    Becoming a mom at 35 has certainly been a challenge for me. I had NO idea the sacrifice it would be (both physically and mentally). And oh how I miss the alone time. But, like other readers have mentioned, become a parent has made me hyper-aware of how I react to certain situations; minding my manners and really working on being kind to strangers. Also, I now enunciate much better.

  21. Well said Joy! I wish I had taken the time to reflect when my kids were young. Your girls are so adorable. Enjoy them to the fullest! xo

  22. Aww. I could not agree more with what you’ve said in this post, Joy – I feel like getting older as well along with having Teddy has changed me for sure … being a good person, a strong mom and a good example to him, and spending time with family and friends who I love, are the most important things for me now. It’s nice to admire my stretch marks and remember why I got them, and to know that lil party paunch tummy will happily jiggle it’s way through life … hehe. (I have also worried about that “seeming too Asian” thing in the past!! Now I embrace my love for all things Asian (BUBBLE TEA ANYONE?) and I love being Asian and having my son share that with me!!) I absolutely agree that there is magic in the every day and the seemingly mundane! I often just soak in the hilarious things Teddy will say and just kiss him and tell him I love him. You’re awesome Joy!! xo

  23. Like I always say: you are a truly inspiring woman. Couldn’t agree more with your philosophy in living in the now. There are so many precious moments that we must appreciate while it’s taking place.


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