Someone asked me recently if there was anything I wish I knew before I had kids. It’s pretty hard these days to NOT be aware of all that awaits you during pregnancy, birth and what comes after: It’s all chronicled for us in the tabloids, blogs and Instagram, right? But there WERE a few things about having a baby that I didn’t see coming. I narrowed it down to three:
1. The non-stop cleaning. I had no idea how much time and energy I would spend cleaning up after my children. And we’re not just talking about changing diapers and picking up toys. Oh, no. The day might bring a sweet-potato explosion in the kitchen, a diaper blowout in the baby’s room and an unfortunate incident with a Sharpie in the family room. Not to mention the laundry. My second child was a spitter-upper, and we could go through a stack of bibs and burp cloths in a single morning.
2. The end of freedom as you know it. OK, maybe you had a clue that a baby was a big responsibility. But did you really think through EXACTLY what this meant? That from here on out you’d be restricted to drive-thrus, unless you want to schlep the baby carrier in and out of the car just to grab your coffee and dry-cleaning? That unless you’re lucky enough to live near family you will have to pay someone to watch your child EVERY SINGLE TIME you want to go out with your spouse, go to a yoga class or even re-paint the dining room without interruption? That you don't get sick days or vacation time off parenting? That you may never again sleep in on weekends? (At least 'til your kids are teenagers.) Even seven years into parenthood, I’m still disappointed when 5 p.m. on Friday comes, and I realize it means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Happy hour is a distant memory. (Unless you look at nap time as the new happy hour!)
3. The unparalleled joy. I’ve always loved kids. I babysat from the time I was 12. And yet I still hadn’t the faintest clue what it was going to be like to meet a tiny, brand-new person that was half me and half my husband. How I would feel when he reached for MY finger and would only be soothed by ME. How my heart would soar when he slept peacefully, ate well, burped, gained weight and had poopy diapers, even. (He’s not constipated–yay!) How all the messes and stresses are SO worth it, for a million, trillion tiny little reasons, from baby chuckles to sticky kisses.
But I don't really wish I knew all this before I had kids. Because you really have to experience it for yourself.