Today’s topic is: “What advice do you wish you would have received before having kids?”
Boy, oh boy. That’s a big one! I’ve thought a lot about this over the last three years (my girls are now three and two), so much so that I’ve actually considered writing a book about what they don’t tell you before you have children. Who knows, maybe someday I will write that book, but in the meantime, I will try to organize my thoughts enough to answer this seemingly simple, yet monumentally complex, question. Now, where to begin?
Before I launch into lamenting about the trials and tribulations of parenting, I must go on record as saying that I am very happy I have my children. I love them immensely and I am reminded every day of how they enrich my life.
That said, parenting is hard. Really hard sometimes. And unlike my smartphone, children don’t come with a user’s manual and live tech support. In fact, after my children were already here, I’ve had several major revelations (which I probably should have had before they arrived). The biggest of which is…
BEING A MOM MEANS NEVER BEING ABLE TO QUIT YOUR JOB.
Remember that terrible boss you had once? Remember how you realized you weren’t cut out for food service? Remember how you worked long hours on a project and someone else took the credit (and the promotion)? When I was faced with these situations, I quit and found a better job. After all, my mantra is “life’s too short to be unhappy!”
But, when you’re a parent, your boss, at least for the first several years, is your child. (You can be one of those women who says you won’t let having a baby change your life. You’ll still go out with your friends, you’ll still do your hair and makeup every morning, you’ll still go to the gym… Maybe, but chances are, you’ll be wrong.)
When that little wiggly bundle arrives, you quickly realize that your only goal for the next day, week, month, year, decade… is to do everything you can to *keep it alive*. So when she cries in the middle of the night, you drag your sleep-deprived keister out of bed and feed her, again. When she gets cranky and fussy, you rock her to sleep. When she insists on reading the same idiotic book for the fifth time in a row, you sit down, take a deep breath, and dang it, you read it again! Because that’s your job (and even if you want to, you can’t quit now).
So while I am eagerly looking forward to the day when I can pee with the bathroom door closed again or sit with a cup of tea and read a good book from cover-to-cover, I try to remind myself every day that this period in their lives is fleeting. Someday soon they will be off at college and the old farmhouse will once again be silent. There will be plenty of time for reading then.
~ Phoebe DeCook
(P.S. If you missed the introduction to my “Musings”, you can read it here.)