Q: Will it make me fulfilled?
A: Ummm sometimes? Honestly, the first year of her life, I felt less fulfilled than I ever have because I was spending most of my time taking care of a tiny baby that couldn’t talk or interact in a way that was interesting to me, and it meant that I couldn’t do things that really DO make me fulfilled, like writing and creating. Now that she’s almost 3, I have a lot more moments where I feel proud or amused or loving toward her, but to be honest, I don’t feel fulfilled by our relationship. It’s something different.
Q: Will I have to give up my entire life?
A: For me, it took about 1-1.5 years to get my life back. I breastfed my daughter and she wouldn’t drink from a bottle for the first 6 months so I could not get away from her for that entire time. And believe me, I wanted to. We also moved across the country and I am self-employed so I didn’t have a job to go to. It was REALLY HARD.
But then, she became more independent and we started sending her to daycare. We moved closer to my parents and they watched her sometimes before COVID. Now I get time to be creative on a regular basis, I meet friends for coffee every once in awhile, and I even went on a 5 day retreat with some friends back in 2019.
I can’t just do what I want. I have to arrange it or pay for it. But I can do things outside of motherhood. Lots of things.
Also, I saw a post in here where someone wrote that you can’t take a step back for self care when you are a parent. And in my experience that is absolutely NOT TRUE. I take better care of myself than I ever have, at least emotionally. And I think that being a mom has helped me do that, because to step up for my daughter and be a happy, whole human, I need to prioritize taking care of myself. It’s better for both of us. Because I’m always trying to be aware of her needs, I have learned how to pay attention to myself and my own needs and to mother myself.
Q: Will I be a good parent?
A: Sometimes. Sometimes I don’t get frustrated when my daughter screams at me for not reading a book 5 million times. Sometimes I do fun things like making Valentine’s Day cookies with her. Sometimes I give her kisses in her palms for her dreams and I feel like she really knows I love her.
And sometimes I get so frustrated I have to leave the room. Sometimes I realize I’ve been looking at my phone the entire time I’ve been eating lunch with her. Sometimes I cave into her demands more than I know I should and I worry that I’m not setting boundaries and I’m turning her into a spoiled, entitled brat.
You will likely be a good parent sometimes, too. And sometimes, not so much.
Q: Will I regret it?
A: Sometimes. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to start every day getting my daughter out of bed, and convincing her to pee in the toilet, and then convincing her to let me brush her teeth. Sometimes I wish I could just be free to hang out with a friend without arranging someone to watch her first.
But a lot of the time, I just really love hanging out with my daughter. She is smart and fun and positive. She’s not afraid to take risks. She has a good sense of humor. I see a lot of qualities in her that I wish I had as a kid, and that makes me happy.
Then again, that’s this month. Ask me again later. My answer will likely change.
Q: Will I enjoy it?
A: I enjoy some aspects of it. Like teaching her new things and going to the zoo with her and watching how excited she gets over little things.
But other aspects of it, like getting her to do stuff and trying to find food she’ll eat and reading the same book 5 million times and dealing with her when she’s tired just wear me down.
Q: Will I miss out if I don’t have a kid?
A: Yeah. You’ll miss out on diaper blow-outs and tantrums and the mindless boredom of the day to day care of another human. And you’ll miss out on cuddles and watching them walk for the first time and someone who thinks you are the best human in the world.
But you’ll also miss out if you do have a kid. You will miss out on lazy mornings and spontaneous trips and adult conversations and devoting your energy to whatever you want. You will miss out on the loneliness and boredom of NOT having a human to take care of.
You will miss out either way.
Q: Will it make me happy?
A: Based on my own experience, and what I’ve seen from other parents, parenthood does not make you happy. You make you happy. The people I know who were unhappy before they became parents are still unhappy. The people I know who were happy beforehand are still happy. Your set of emotional tools, your level of resilience, your commitment to taking care of yourself, are what will make you happy. Period. Not a kid. Not being child free.
You can make yourself happy regardless.
Q: Why can’t I just make up my mind one way or the other?
A: You can’t make up your mind because you want to know what it’s going to be like, and you just CAN’T. All of the stories you tell yourself, the watercolor images of lovingly holding a newborn (that is keeping you up all night) or dealing with a screaming toddler (who delighted you 5 minutes ago by saying something really hilarious) are just made up.
How YOU will be as a parent, and how your kid will be, is completely different from anything you can imagine. To become a parent, you have to take a leap into the unknown. And once you’ve leapt, you can’t go back. It’s really scary. So maybe you’re supposed to be uncertain.