“Just wait until you have kids. Then you’ll understand.”
That statement is probably the most annoying thing that parents can say to their childless friends. It’s also true (unfortunately). Before Jacob was born, we heard that statement. A lot. We were told that everything changes, and “just wait, you’ll see”. We thought, “Yeah, whatever. We got this.”
We were wrong.
Everything changed. For those of you who don’t have kids and have friends who do, I’m sure you’ve wondered where the hell they’ve disappeared to. All of a sudden, they have no time for you. They have to go early, get off the phone, can’t come out, etc… (It’s almost like they’re living at home with their ridiculously strict parents again) So, naturally, you start inviting them out less, start calling less. And before you know it, you’re texting them on their birthday instead of calling. They’ve almost become a distant memory, and you have no idea why. Sound familiar?
Well, I’m going to let you know, it’s not because they don’t love you anymore.
It’s because they’re dead.
Don’t feel bad, I don’t mean that literally. I also don’t mean that internally (actually, it’s quite the contrary: on the inside they’re more alive than they’ve ever been)
I mean it in the sense that who they were is now a distant memory. Care-free becomes careFUL. They become more responsible. Literally – they are now completely responsible for another human being. (Who, I might add, can’t even burp on their own, let alone hold their own head up)
If you’re one of those friends (and we have several) who’ve stuck by your friends with kids, I congratulate and applaud you. I know it’s not easy, but believe me, they love and appreciate you more than you will ever know.
If you’re still getting over the “dead” statement, let me explain further.
Before your child comes ripping into your life like a tropical storm followed by an earthquake and tsunami (sounds dramatic, I know, but believe me when I say that the changes to your life are just as monumental) you have freedom – you may not realize just how much – you have freedom to just pick up and go. Anywhere. At any time. You don’t have to bring anything with you or worry about when you will get home. Nada. You can come and go as you please (unless you’re in an abusive/controlling relationship, but that falls outside the scope of this post, and quite frankly, I have no desire to address that, so back to what I was saying…)
After tropical-quake-nami, all of that ends. Everything now revolves around your child. And that’s normal. Anywhere you go, you have to bring food, diapers, wipes, toys and a change of clothes (or several). Anywhere you go you have to be super vigilant of your surroundings because everything can become a hazard to your little toddling (and ever so inquisitive and adventurous) child – you must be ready at all times to catch whatever your child throws/drops (including him/herself sometimes). And, of course, you have to be vigilant about getting home on time to get them to bed so that they can (hopefully) get a good night’s sleep (this aspect is a whole issue of it’s own, so I won’t go into that here)
You still want to hang out with your friends and go places, but bringing baby along makes everything different. What I mean by that is simple: you can be with your friends and your baby/toddler, but your attention is and should be on your child (you’re responsible for them, remember?) This equation is just plain exhausting.
If I just made you feel like kids are the end of life as you know it, don’t worry, they are.
But here’s the wonderful part: Having a child opens your heart in ways you never thought possible. Yes, it’s frustrating and tough at times, but the love you feel for your child
can only can’t be described. You now see everyone as someone’s child and that changes your whole perspective on LIFE. When your child smiles at you, or hugs you tight, or looks at you and says “Dada” (or Mama), you simply don’t care that you can’t just pick up and go as you please anymore. So, yes, new parents have a tendency to fall off the face of the planet, but don’t fret: if you’re patient enough, they’ll be back. With wipes, cat-like reflexes and super awareness of their surroundings.
Don’t believe me?
Just wait until you have kids. Then you’ll understand.