They asked about, oh, two weeks ago. I'm sure the deadline is long since passed. I started the answer a day or two after they'd asked, then, well....
Has parenthood changed you? Was there a moment or incident that sparked the realization?
I'd like so much for the answer to this question to be a glowing endorsement of parenthood, of how it has made me a shining example of dignity and respect, love, tolerance and endless patience. I could shine up my parental halo and wax eloquent about how my children have taught me the true meaning of life.
Parenthood has changed me from an intelligent, articulate human being into someone who is really tired a lot of the time. I'm still intelligent, occasionally articulate, but my time to even sit down and write something like this has been compressed into the brief span after my children have finally gone to sleep and before I collapse into bed for the night. This is not the best time to be an answer to a question you're planning to submit to NPR. Parenthood has reduced my time for critical and creative thinking involving something other than how to get out mystery stains to an hour before bedtime, which is not my best time.
I used to spend my free time playing games (board and computer), or reading books, or doing a wide variety of arts and crafts, all of which involved tiny pieces of something and sharp cutting edges. I did a lot of community theater. After the first baby, most of that went. I still read, but now all too often my reading is reduced to a glance at the cover of the novel I'm trying to start before I turn out the light. Parents of older children tell me that some of these things return as the kids grow. Hobbies that involve sharp tools, small bits or stirring things on a hot stove can eventually be part of my life again.
Parenthood has made me realize what an amazing, versatile, creative (and sometimes quite grumpy) person my husband is, though. He is a better father than I could have hoped for, and I had some high expectations in the first place. I think he could probably say the same about me. Parenthood is a magnifier of the best and worst in us, and sometimes makes us pare life down to the things that are truly important. The one thing that has truly, utterly changed, then is that my list of "Important Things" now permanently has my children in the top slot on the list.
I love them like I have never loved anyone in my entire life, and could not live without them. But sometimes, oh sometimes, I do miss my sleep.