What no one tells you about parenthood

A few years ago, I couldn’t imagine my life with a child.

And a few years before that, I was convinced that I never, ever wanted to have kids. Ever.

That changed a bit after my sister had kids. And even though I was so far away, and only got to spend a few weeks a year with them, I slowly realised that if I could adore those little buggers that much, imagine how much I could adore my own child.

And like many people, there comes a time and an age when you start to think, am I going to do this, or not?

Is my life going to include having children, or not?

It’s a major decision that everyone has to make at one point or another in their lives. Because like it or not, if you want to do it, you have to do it while you are young and strong and healthy.

So, not too long ago, my husband and I decided to take the plunge, and procreate.

But, I was skeptical. Very skeptical. And afraid about giving up ‘My Life’, and never getting it back.

When I looked at women who had a gaggle of children following them around, I thought it looked a lot like slavery, or hell. It made me shudder. The constant attention. The endless mouths to feed, to educate, to entertain, to take care of. The giving, and the giving, and giving some more, endlessly.

I wondered, what would happen if I had a child? What would happen to all the things I liked to do? My hobbies? My gym routine? My golf game? My scuba diving license? My fun job? Would it all just end, and would I be doomed to a lifetime of servitude?

People spend a lot of time complaining about the hardships that accompany parenthood. And rightfully so. The responsibility of caring for a tiny, helpless human being is immense. And it involves a hell of a lot of sacrifice, and hard work, and aggravation, and stress.

Sleepless nights with a newborn. Weeks and weeks and weeks of no sleep. It is enough to make you want to die — really — because you feel there is no way you can possibly go any longer without a night’s rest.

The pain of breastfeeding. It is hard, and exhausting, and physically painful.

The change of your lifestyle. Especially if you are a fun-loving expat like me, who has had a lot of exciting new jobs at big international companies surrounded by interesting people, with lunch in yummy restaurants and happy hours in crazy bars downtown, all interspersed by exotic vacations in interesting places.

Was all that going to end?

In a way, yes. But, what no one tells you is that it is just temporary.

You do get ‘your life’ back, after maybe a year or so. You do get to do the things you used to do before. Maybe not as frequently, but you do get to do them again, that is for sure.

You do get to drink a coffee and read a book in bed again. You do get to go to the gym again. You do get to go out and drink and party again. You do have a sex life again. You do get to travel again. Not right away, of course. And not quite in the same way. After all, you do have a tiny human being to take care of. But it is just temporary, and things do get back to a normal. It’s just a new normal.

But, the really important thing that no one tells you is that one day you’ll just be at home with this teeny, tiny person — this perfect, wonderful little human being who somehow grew in your body and who you suffered the worst pain of your life to bring into the world — that one day you’ll just be sitting there on the couch chilling with your tiny little companion, doing nothing in particular, and you’ll look at them and suddenly burst into tears at how wonderful and sweet and amazing and incredible they are, and how lucky you are to have them in your life.

Sickening, isn’t it?

People bitch a lot about how hard it is to raise kids. Because it is.

But no one ever tells you that the love, the pure, absolute, unending, boundless, powerful love that you feel for your child will be stronger than any emotion that you have ever felt, and it will overwhelm you from head to toe and make you wonder what you have done to deserve such a glorious little child in your life.

No one tells you that you will love your child so completely, way more than you love your spouse, way more than you love your husband, way more than you love your own parents, or your siblings, or your friends, or yourself.

No one tells you that every single day you will wake up with a smile on your face, with love in your heart, with joy at the new day dawning, looking forward to all the things that are waiting for you and your little child that day. I’ve always considered myself a career woman, but let me tell you that no job has ever made me wake up with joy in my heart every single day.

No one tells you that having a child makes you strong, and makes you conquer your fears. For example, I’ve always been absolutely terrified of dogs since I was a child. But now, when I am out walking, if I see a menacing looking dog coming towards me, I narrow my eyes and send them a signal that if they only dare to screw with me and my child, I will f***ng kill them. Literally. Because I will kill anything that threatens my child. And this new-found sense of strength and duty will surprise and delight you, because you know you can, and will, do anything — ANYTHING — to protect your child, even if it is the thing you fear the most.

No one tells you that all of the ‘loss’ that you may associate with having a baby — lack of sleep, lack of free time — is just for a short time. You do get your life back once you stick out the initial adjustment period.

Just because you have a child does not mean your life is over.

In fact it is quite the opposite. Life has just begun. Because every day will be new, and fun, and exciting. You will get to explore life all over again through the eyes of your child. You will get to read more books, and play games, and draw, and try new things.

Sometimes it will be incredibly boring. Sometimes you will want to run out of the house and down the road to escape from your child. But, thankfully, those days are the exception, not the norm, and you are not a bad person for feeling that way.

Because more often than not, you’ll have those moments out of the blue where your love for your child will overwhelm you and turn you into a blubbering idiot out of the blue. And I don’t know about you, but having a heart full of love and joy cannot ever be a bad thing.

So, here’s my advice to people who are sitting on the fence, trying to decide if to have kids.

If you don’t have kids, you may perhaps wonder if you made the right choice later on in life.

If you do have kids, there with be absolutely no space in your heart for any doubt that you made the right choice, because this little person will bring so much joy to your life, and make you smile ten thousand times a day, despite the hardships and the challenges and the sacrifices and compromises. You won’t be able to imagine your life without them because every day they will make you happy. And the thought of losing them will crush your soul, because you love them so damn much.

And what on this planet could be better than pure love?

I guess no one ever really talks about that side of it.

But, maybe they should.






5 Replies to “What no one tells you about parenthood”

  1. you do get your life back and i can tell you one thing, as much as you loving going out and partying and all the good stuff, when you get the feeling of how appreciative you are when you reach home to see that little one or in my case ones welcoming you home you will not want to go out at all…trust me when i say this. having kids is temporary enjoyment in life where you only get a small percentage of their life to enjoy them because as soon as they get older and start having friends…they don’t know you anymore:).enjoy them now because they will just like yourself leaving you family behind will eventually leave you.

  2. So beautiful, Emily. Well said and read. Can’t wait to meet your little one and we’re so happy you can all come to visit.

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