It’s been said that when you have kids, everything changes. Before I had kids, this statement didn’t fully register with me. I mean, of course, things will change, they always do. What I didn’t realize was that having kids wouldn’t just change my circumstances and environment, it would change my entire being, forever. The person I thought I was, was about to completely transform. This may sound dramatic, but let me explain. Looking back, these are the words of wisdom I’d give myself before I had kids.
You Will Find Your Own Normal
It’s easy to look at the glossy images of happy families with children and assume there is a norm when it comes to raising a family. The truth is: There is no normal. There are so many variations of what normal looks like family to family. I got a first-hand introduction to this when we found out our first daughter would be born with a life-threatening birth defect. We knew early on in our pregnancy, and our idea of a normal was immediately flipped in an instant. Every experience I expected to have during birth went very different in reality. The truth is that you can prepare for what you think is the norm, but it’s not really normal. It’s just the ideal. The good news is that you will find your own normal in your own time, and you don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed if it doesn’t look anything like what you thought it would. There is beauty in every experience, and each child will come with their own unique experience, believe me.
You Will Find Friends in Unexpected Places
I have come to acknowledge the truth that parenting is the great equalizer. Think you are a real winner at life? Have kids. There is nothing like a child to show you your weaknesses. I have consistently been in awe of how kids can take an overachiever and conquer them, and an unmotivated person and motivate them. They level the playing field, unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed. When you finally discover that, you look around and see that we are more alike than we are different. It’s here you will begin to make friends in the most unexpected places. Parenting is no place for isolation. You are going to need your friends more than you know. Parenting also has a way of inviting you to reach out. For me, I’ve done things I’ve never been brave enough to do before because I did them for my kids. In this way, friendships are built because we need other parents to show us the way and lift us up when we are spent. It sounds cliché, but it really does take a village. Maybe you’ll meet them at the grocery store like I did, or at orientation for preschool. Keep your eyes open though, you might just meet your next best mom-friend, the person that will help you get through some of the largest challenges of your life.
Parenting Will Remake You
Just when I thought I knew myself, I become a parent. All of a sudden I thought, “I need to be a mom now and do mom things.” I even thought I had to dress like a mom. For some reason I had it in my head I’d be judged as a poor mother if I was just myself. As if wearing cardigans and aprons would somehow make me a better mom. It didn’t take long for me to cast off the box I’d put myself in and return to who I felt I really was. The makeover I ultimately underwent had a lot less to do with my attire, and a whole lot more to do with my mind. It didn’t happen all at once, no the transition was subtle. At first, it’s the sobering knowledge that you suddenly have a human life to care for. Then it’s the toughening of your resolve as you learn to navigate your toddler’s tantrums. Slowly but surely though, you make the transition into this new person that looks at life entirely different. Sometimes this comes with soaring highs when you conquer a personal challenge, sometimes it comes with depths of despair when you realize you are going to fail and fail drastically. Find encouragement in knowing that all these new layers are exactly what you need to be the best parent you can possibly be. Is it easy or natural? No, it’s extraordinarily challenging, but it also has its moments of extraordinary fulfillment.
It’s a Humbling Experience
They say that the best parents are folks without kids. Meaning, that it’s always easier to judge what good parenting looks like when you don’t actually have to do it yourself. I confess, before kids, I was a total pro at how people should parent. I couldn’t understand why some parents just couldn’t keep control of their ill-behaved kids. I mean, why would you even bring them out in public if they were so wild? Some places just aren’t suitable for small children right? Or so I thought back then. Having your own children will serve you a large slice of humble pie, and boy have I been noshing on mine for a while. We all have our own path to parenthood, and it looks uniquely different for everyone. It’s full of extreme highs and lows, much laughter and plenty of tears. It is truly the greatest adventure. One I wouldn’t trade for the world.