How being a parent changes you (the good and the not-so-good)
This post isn’t about trying to talk anyone out of having a kid or trying to convince you that you should have a kid. It’s also not about what happens to your body, your sex life or your social life. You probably already knew about all that, anyway! As far as that goes, everyone’s life is different and parenthood effects people in varying degrees. These are all things from my own experience and from my friends who have navigated their way through the diaper years, preschool and beyond.
It seems like everyone I know is getting married and having babies right now. A lot of my friends from school have already had more than one kid. Some were planned and others were surprises. One unique situation, though, is someone close to me. She hasn’t had any children of her own yet, but has become a full-fledged step-mom to her fiance’s daughter. People are usually surprised when they find out how young she is, and she’s taken on the responsibility of helping to raise a child who isn’t biologically hers.
Kids are a huge responsibility and I don’t think you can really comprehend it until you’ve done it. “Well duh, you have to take care of another little person, of course it’s a big responsibility. A lot of young people know this, but does it make them stop and put on a condom, or march themselves down to the nearest planned parenthood to get the pill? I’m not trying to criticize anyone, but I think some people don’t completely understand the gravity of the situation. You have to take some time and a long look at yourself before you make that decision. It’s more of a commitment than getting married and going out to buy a puppy is not a good “trial run”. Sometimes a pet (or two or five) is all you need anyway, if you decide you don’t want kids!
Once you decide to have a kid, you’re going into a tunnel and the landscape will look completely different on the other side.
The Not-so-good (I always like to start with the bad news first.)
Beware of hyper-critical parent/person syndrome. I’ve noticed something scary around other parents with their kids out in public. They make judgements on other parents for how they’re handling their kid’s tantrum, make a comment on something you say to your kid, etc. They think they’re licensed to offer parenting advice to people who don’t ask for it. Here’s a word advice to those people: Stay out of it. Unless someone is causing real harm to a child, it’s none of their business.
Beware of overly-pushy parent syndrome. We all want our kids to excel at things and some nudging is good. The prime examples are the overzealous Dad yelling mean things at his son at a baseball game, or a mom guilt-tripping her daughter because she didn’t win a prize in a beauty pageant.
Your life isn’t all about you anymore. That sounds scary and in a way it is, but it can also be a good thing. You’re not so self-conscious anymore. You get bolder or more willing to stand up and speak out on something you don’t think is right, because you have to look out for somebody else now. Suddenly, the future is way more important.
Sometimes people are spurred to get their lives together. They get a job and work harder than before or start to get even more serious about their career. While a kid does complicate things a little, it can be done. I worked a full time job, went to school full time and had a baby under 1-year-old to take care of. Life was a little hectic but exciting and I feel proud that I could do all that at once. Which leads to my next point…
You get more resourceful. Once you find possibilities where you thought they didn’t exist, you start to feel like even more things are possible. When I lost my childcare and had to stop working, I started working online as a copywriter. I probably wouldn’t have even tried to do that otherwise. Other moms have started home-based businesses because it worked better for their lives. Even if the business isn’t home-based, they might still be able to make their own hours.
You get more imaginative and playful. Little kids aren’t burdened by the world yet and being around them can make you see the world a little differently. That stick and rock over there? Those are toys. That cardboard box is a dollhouse waiting to be decorated.
These things depend on the person. If you’re up to the challenge and really want it, then you can make it work.
Can you think of some more good and not-so-good changes that come along with being a parent? What are your experiences?