Before I had kids, I would always declare, “Having kids isn’t going to change me.”
I guess back then I thought I didn’t need changing… or more likely that I was afraid of it. I mean, I’d seen what parenthood did to other people. How it made them more forgetful, how they seemed to not care that their bratty kids were affecting my peaceful dinner, how they couldn’t get out of the house without some sort of dried food or spit or snot on them, how they had the most boring weekends and nightlife.
No, having kids wasn’t going to change ME. I was going to remain my same put-together, hip, happy-hour-indulging self. That’s what babysitters and dry cleaning are for, right?
Flash forward to nearly 5 years after being baptized by explosive diapers into this realm of parenthood, and I don’t know what I was thinking. OF COURSE it would change me. Just like any major life event, it would change me. And thank goodness for that because I simply can’t envision 25-year-old childless me SURVIVING this.
If you’re on the cusp of this major life change, if you’re halfway through your first pregnancy, or you’re contemplating getting pregnant sometime in the near future, take my advice. Don’t resist the change. Don’t delude yourself into thinking you’ll be the same person 1 year, 1 month, or even 1 day into parenthood.
Life is going to change. YOU are going to change. Your priorities, your tolerance, your understanding, your views… they’re all going to change.
For one, the amount of time your life is going to revolve around poop is a life-changing experience in and of itself. It makes leaving the house a challenge in so many ways. So your priorities really shift from arriving somewhere on time, wrinkle and other crusty-substance-on-shirt free, to just getting there before they stop serving dinner, without any remnants on your person of the epic diaper you just cleaned up on your 4th attempt to leave the house.
So your kids aren’t sitting silently, perfectly still at the dinner booth. So you see the couple next to you rolling their eyes at your brood (while they, let me add, laugh loudly over their 3rd beer, causing the same level of noise your crowd is… but you’re still the one who feels like a burden). But you know what? The kids aren’t jumping off the table, and so far the only food they’ve thrown has landed on YOUR plate, and nobody else’s. You, my dear, will call that a win.
And by the time the weekend rolls around, the last thing you want to do is hunt down a babysitter you’re confident could keep your child alive long enough for an ambulance to get there in the case of an emergency. Then pay more for them to come and sit at your house, use your wi-fi, and eat your food than you will spend on dinner.
Take the kids with you? HA! Hahahahahahahaha! You thought you’d be that couple that takes the kids everywhere, never missing out on a “fun” grown-up event, exposes them to cultural experiences, like concerts on the lawn and wine tastings while you push them in their expensive stroller and they sweetly coo at you, as you smile lovingly at them over your glass of riesling?
These are the ideas that CHILDLESS people have before they have children. Before they realize that a Saturday night at home with Chinese takeout and a bottle of red from the Target wine aisle is a million times better (and cheaper) than the hassle of a night out. That Redbox sure does have a swell collection of movies these days, too, golly gee.
Listen, this isn’t to say you won’t ever get out and do fun things after you have kids (with or without them), just that it takes about a month to plan for and pack the diaper bag for it, and 2 paychecks to cover the costs.
Now, this is probably freaking you the F out because, I get it, you don’t WANT to change. Nobody wants to. But I’m here to tell you that once you cross to the other side, it’s really not all that bad. You’ll survive. There will be an adjustment phase, but you’ll find your balance. One day soon, you’ll be making funnies on Facebook about your hot date with the Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond on a Saturday, and you’ll be okay seeing that come up right on top of your childless friends’ pictures from that concert and bar crawl you missed the night before.
It’s not that your life is better than your childless friends’ now. I certainly don’t mean to imply that people who have children change for the better, thus meaning those without children aren’t living as good a life. It’s just a different life, with a whole different set of perks and challenges. A life you can’t live and experience fully if you don’t change. So don’t fight the change children bring. If having kids is what you want, the change is worth it.