I will be the first to admit that my life has changed tremendously since having kids. Not that I was a party animal before kids, or that J and I regularly took spontaneous trips to Paris, but that I go out A LOT less, and practically every decision I make includes the question “What about the baby?”
And I guess I’m a bit of a wimp in this regard, because ever since Claire was born I have never spent a night away from home (aside from hospital stays), never traveled more than a hour’s radius from home, and much rather prefer the safety of my home to places where I — and perhaps others — will need to make special accommodations for the baby.
But I know that motherhood doesn’t have to be this way. And to present this case is guest author Heather, who recently had a baby of her own and has already done so much with him, fully incorporating him into her life rather than the other way around. As is the case with most parenting decisions, I am sure that there is no “right” way, but I can’t help but wonder how my readers have, or plan to, handle this aspect of parenthood?
Early on in my pregnancy, after the initial excitement and flurry of news-spreading settled down a bit, my husband and I started talking about the enormity of how our lives were going to change. I think it’s a common discussion for new parents who have no idea what to expect when a baby enters their lives. It’s hard not to think that the lifestyle you have grown accustomed to is about to become non-existent and that your days will be filled with nothing but diaper changes and Barney re-runs.
You know why we all think this? Because we are told so from the moment those two little lines show up.
“Enjoy time with your husband now because you’ll never get time alone again.”
“Go out with your friends now because your social life just became non-existent.”
“Never again will you be able to be spontaneous. Kiss last-minute vacations goodbye.”
“Your life is over for the next 18years!”
I’m sure people think it’s helpful to impart their wisdom on new parents, but all this ‘advice’ just scares them more than they already are and in my opinion is sort of a bunch of baloney. You life does not have to be over when you bring a child into the world. Will your life change? Of course. But it doesn’t have to change for the worse!
So many new parents give up everything they love because they think they have to, that it’s what is expected. They revolve their life around their new bundle of joy instead of incorporating their child into the life they have created. From my perspective, this only leads to resentment and alienation from the partner you created this life with.
My husband and I talked about this a lot during my pregnancy, constantly reminding ourselves that we wanted to raise this child as part of our family, not as the ONLY valid member of our family.
I admit, it’s been hard since our little boy arrived to stick to that plan. He is a fussy baby and nurses a lot, so I’ve been scared to venture out into the world with him. It seems so much easier and safer to just stay at home. But when I do get out, it reminds me that our plan was a good one. It’s fun and refreshing to get out — both for the social aspect and simply for the fresh air. If the baby gets fussy or needs to nurse, we find a place to calm and feed him. We have to roll with the punches a little bit more and be much more flexible (schedules are sort of a joke), but we make it work.
In the six weeks our baby has been with us we have taken him shopping, out to eat, on walks with the dog, and even on an overnight trip to a tourist town a couple hours away. And we plan to keep it up —taking him with us when we want to go out, saying ‘yes’ to trips away from home, and continuing our hobbies and activities. We know it will make us stronger as a couple and stronger as a family.
What are your thoughts? Do you make sure to keep your life as close to ‘normal’ as possible or do you think your life must change drastically when you add a member to the family?
Heather Kalinowski is a new mom to an 11 week old baby boy. When she is not changing diapers and cleaning spit-up, she is helping pet owners protect their pets with Trupanion pet insurance. You can also find her at her personal blog at http://familyandfur.com.