It's true, what they say. Becoming a parent changes you.
I have become smarter, better, more organized. I have had to be, as I also become more tired and forgetful. I am now permanently tired and forgetful. I go to the store with a grocery list of military precision, written in the order of our journey through Atlantic SuperStore, because if I don't keep moving constantly my toddler will abandon cart and make for the hardware aisle with unerring speed and accuracy. (Why go for toys when there are adult tools available? Especially those exciting sharp blades!)
The way that I experience consciousness has changed. 3 years into a nursing relationship and going strong, the way that I experience sleep--and wakefulness--may be forever altered. Time will tell.
More than anything, I find that I have adopted a way of being in the world that is distinctly parental. At any time and in any situation, the idea that my thoughts, behaviours, and actions affect my child is omnipresent. Even when he isn't.
In many ways it is similar to the pastoral presence I learned to cultivate in seminary and especially during my work as a hospital chaplain. There are many important differences, as well--but the main similarity is this: Whatever is going on, it's not about me. No matter how much it seems to be in the moment, no matter how involved and emotionally attached I am--Not. About. Me. Quite freeing, actually.
It is instead about being witness to my child's journey, to help him with emotions too big for his small experience--to support, to listen, to help... and mostly to back off as needed.
Into maternal presence, I breathe. Support me, Air. Support me, Earth. Support me, Mars bars.