Years ago, I don’t even think I was married yet, I was having lunch with a colleague. The conversation turned to family and children, of which he had both. Of course he was talking how great having kids is and I, always one to get all dreamy about having kids, said something along the lines of…”I’ve heard that a person will have kids and then feel like finally their life has started in earnest.”
My lunch companion looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Well, that’s just sad,” he said. ”That person must not have had much of a life.”
Eek! Taken down a few pegs from my romantic notion that kids will finally make things make sense. Certainly, I don’t want to be that person who didn’t have a life before kids.
Fast forward five years and I have my kid and my family. And guess what – things really do make more sense. Not overnight. I had to get over a month long learning curve first. But after that I woke up to a life that really was different and if I’m to be perfectly honest with myself, much more real than my life before baby.
So am I that loser the guy was talking about? With no life? With no aspirations but to procreate and be a stay-at-home mom? That’s a label that’s particularly cringe inducing to me because I swore all my life that I wouldn’t be one of those women who has nothing in their lives but family, babies, and homemaking. That’s why I waited until I was 31 to have babies. I considered getting pregnant giving up.
Now, I’m kicking myself for not starting sooner, because I finally feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel authentic. I no longer feel like a fraud. In just about every endeavor up to this point I felt I was play acting. Even if I play acted so well no one else knew, it was still an arduous task to put on the mask every day.
I still work. As any mom can tell you, I work harder than ever. However, and this strikes me as really funny and frustrating at the same time, because I enjoy and feel so right doing what I’m doing, I don’t get the gold stars. In fact, I feel guilty. Can I really be allowed to stay home and play with the baby, dab away his spit up, change his adorable cloth diapers, nurse him every hour during his growth spurts? This is now my job? How unglamorous! This is what I went to college for? But I’m so happy, so what can I do?
Nothing. Because I’ve found out there are some nice side effects to having a baby around. I’m forced to focus. When Charlie’s down for a nap I know I have an hour to write, if I’m lucky, so there’s no time to peruse the blogs. No time to putter around the house putting the real work off. No way. If I have some quiet time, I’m in my chair typing away.
Which brings me to the other nice side effect. Eventually, Charlie will reach an age where he’s modeling himself after his parents so I really have to take a good look at what we’re showing him. My entire life I’ve struggled with procrastination and completing things. I’ve started countless novels, brainstormed and written numerous business plans but rarely followed through unless overseen by a boss. On the top of my list of things I want to teach my son is how to follow through and complete what he sets out to do. And there’s no way I’m going to effectively teach him that unless I can do it myself.
So I guess having a child around simply amplifies life. The things that are important become really important. The things that aren’t are discarded. It’s a much nicer way to live. I guess I’m just one of those people who had to have a baby to figure it out.