By Nora Heston Tarte

I write about my kid a lot because he’s my favorite thing that exists in this world, a sentiment I’m sure most mother’s share.

He’s funny, bright, adorably clueless, and profoundly wise all at once. What I don’t write about often is how being a mother has changed me.

It didn’t happen all at once. I remember the afterglow of birth, but the changes to my own personality came gradually as my love and sense of protection for my son grew, too. It was an organic growth that happens in most relationships.

I began to become a better person in all facets of my life. A better wife, friend, and, of course, mother. I learned to be less selfish and have patience—qualities that expanded to every corner of my life. In this weird way, I even became a better employee. Mothers are expected to flail at work post-partum as a new being has taken top spot in their hearts, pushing career down one more prong on the priorities ladder. But that didn’t happen to me.

Being a mother showed me strength I never knew I had. I suddenly felt capable of accomplishing what seemed impossible. Plus, as he grew, I knew a tiny human was watching me always, looking up to me as more than a mother but as a human being, as well. I wanted to show him how to be good, how to persevere, how to have a successful career, and to prioritize education. Most importantly I think I’m showing him that women can do anything men can do, which is important for all little boys to know. In a lot of ways, becoming a mother helped me see my full potential.

I take more chances; I have more fun. I’m busier—no doubt—but I make the time count. I continue to nourish the relationship I have with my husband, to show my son what a good marriage is. And when we take time away from him we ensure it is well spent and meaningful. We take time away with him too. I want to give him everything good I had and everything good that I didn’t.

I learned loyalty, I learned to have faith, I learned to laugh in moments that are hard.

We tend to focus on the hardships of being a mother. The way your body changes, maybe not for the best, the constant haze of sleepiness that even coffee can’t fully erase, the inevitable (yet temporary) loss of self that sneaks up on us occasionally. The truth is we don’t take enough time to look at the growth. The positive changes we’ve all made since becoming mothers. I think if each of us looked deep down inside we’d see that we are better people than we once were, and we have the small people in our life to thank for that.