To my non-parent friends: A word of warning.

Being a mom is the greatest thing I’ve done. It’s better than graduating college or getting my CKD or anything else I can think of. It’s a demanding job but infinitely rewarding. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Well, technically I am doing it all again soon but you know what I mean.

But the thing about being a parent is that you have to make sacrifices. Forever. Because once you have children they never really go away. Just ask my parents. All three of us left and then moved back in at one point or another. And because they love us, they didn’t laugh at us hysterically when we asked if our old rooms were still available.

But the first few years probably come with the most concessions and changes to your once child-free existence. So I’m giving you a list of things to cherish now, while you can.

1) Sleep
I know that might sound like a no brainer but I’m serious. Those all-nighters and late nights/early mornings because you went out and partied? You will wish you had slept. Because once you have kids you will be in a sleep deficit for years to come. And for us ladies it starts roughly 6 months before the baby even shows up in your house. Yippee. Now I’m not saying you’ll never get a good night’s sleep, I’m just saying your definition of a good night’s sleep will change.

2) Hot Food
What witchcraft these children use to deduce the exact second you’re about to sit down and eat anything I cannot fathom. I cannot tell you how many times G has woken up crying the literal second the microwave beeps or I set my plate down and pick up my fork. It’s uncanny. And even if you’re fast about going to get said crying child the original heat of your food will have dissipated and you’ll be stuck with eating lukewarm or rewarmed chicken or pasta. Fun times.

3) Not Sharing
Have a cookie? A chip? A piece of candy? Anything remotely delicious? Well, hope you have more than one. Because once they start eating, they want what you have. As long as it’s not broccoli. You can keep that. Oh, and if they have one of their own? Too bad, they still want yours too.

4) Nice Things
Now, I’ve been in houses where this is not true. Maybe they lock up their children. Or don’t let them into the living room. Or maybe they have children who don’t choose to use the couch as a chalkboard. But more than likely they just spend their time cleaning up after the small tornadoes that spend most of their waking hours making a hellacious mess. Most of the time I make the decision to limit my energy in that area as I know the next day will bring the same mess. So my house looks like a disaster zone 97% of the time. The other 3% is when company is coming over and I’ve jammed everything in a closet and swiped a dustrag across a few surfaces. If we ever move again, our new house WILL have a playroom. A room dedicated solely to the massive accumulation of junk that comes with children. If it’s a two-story, then it will require two. One for each level. Don’t laugh. I’m serious.

5) Constant Terror
Depending on your significant other’s profession you might suffer from this now, even before small people take over your life. But having children amplifies this worry and anxiety and may cause you to want to develop agoraphobia. Having children makes you worry about everything. Everything in the news freaks you out, because it WILL happen to you and your family! You worry about something happening to you, to your spouse, and worse, to your child. I worried before (I’m a professional worrier) but it was nothing compared to now.

6) Sitting for any length of time
Whatever knack children have for knowing when you are planning to sit down and eat is apparently the same one they employ to know the exact moment you become comfortable when sitting and relaxing. Then they will need a drink. Or a snack. Or want “up.” Or they will be getting into something they are not supposed to be getting into. When they are teeny tiny you can at least have them with you so the getting up is less frequent. But when they become walkers and talkers? Well, make sure you don’t expect to get comfortable for long.

 

Now, please understand, even if I have to get up 42 times in an hour to get a cup or help him get unstuck or keep him out of the trash or pantry or cabinets, it’s all worth it. Because his little face lights up when he climbs up on my lap. And hearing his sweet voice say “mommy” through the monitor as he calls for me melts my heart. And in the middle of the night, when I’m dead tired and really want to stay asleep, his little warm body melding to mine as I comfort his cries and he falls asleep in my arms… well, those moments are so precious and gone so quickly. He may be my son forever but he’ll only be my baby for a very short time. I can’t believe 2 years have passed since he showed up so unexpectedly. I can’t believe that he will grow more and more independent and won’t want to kiss and hug mommy anymore. He won’t care about having mommy reach back in the car and “hug” him in his seat. He won’t want “up” all the time and be so content to sit on my hip. So if I have to make dinner one handed or rewarm my dinner a few (dozen) times, then oh well. Because cold chicken is nothing compared to these days flying by so quickly. So while you should be prepared for the sacrifices and compromises you will have to make, understand that the reward for those sacrifices far outweighs a few sleepless nights and crayon on your couch.

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