When LP was about four months old, some of our friends (who shall remain nameless), told us they were considering having their own child and asked if it was really true if having a child changed your life forever. I’m going to assume that they meant beyond the obvious that there is someone who is now living in your house that you did not specifically pick out for their attractive qualities and that you are now responsible for. I can understand them asking because it always irked me a little when people told the very pregnant me that my life would never be the same. I would always think something along the lines of “no duh” but a bit more profane because let’s face it, pregnancy hormones can turn you into someone you would barely recognize in your non-pregnant form.
The truth is, there are a lot of ways having a child changed me that I did not expect. There’s the obvious overwhelming sense of responsibility – thrown in your face the moment you bring your child home from the hospital and they do something you were not prepared for. The thoughts of “I have no idea how to do this” pinging through your head as you’re trying to get your child to stop crying, or you clean poop out of your hair for the third time in one day, or you realize you’re out of diapers/wipes/energy/food/clean underwear and haven’t showered in a week. There’s also the obvious worrying for your child. About sickness and SIDS, and people with ugly dangerous motives coming into contact with your children.
And there are the lifestyle changes. You can’t play rock band at full volume until 3 am anymore. Mariokart is a dangerous game to play because it inevitably causes me to break out in profuse profanity.
Your pets barking/meowing loudly for your attention is a nuisance during naptime. You can’t pee alone (at least for a while). If you’re going to a friend’s house, you can take the baby, but what if said visit falls during naptime or at bedtime. Commercials about making memories can bring tears to my eyes. Stupid Tollhouse Cookie commercials. I can’t watch movies or games where children are threatened (I had trouble with it before, now it’s impossible). I’m even struggling with shows that are crime dramas or comedies because in the beginning, someone usually is murdered, and that somebody is some Mama’s baby.
There’s the change in how I treat my own parents. There have often been times when I realize if Lu had said the same things I did to my parents, I would be dreadfully, terribly hurt. And then I AM dreadfully, terribly hurt because of the crushing guilt. I’m a pessimist (or as I like to call it, realist) a lot of the time, and when I see my kiddo lunging to be held by me, a huge toothless grin on her face, a tiny little voice says to me “and someday she will be a teenager and possibly be screaming that she hates me.” It’s that same pinging that tells you that you’re unequipped to take care of another human being – just a little smidgen of truth to make an illogical statement painful. We try now to see our parents much more regularly because we want to be good children now. We hope that LP would/will do the same to us. And also because we want to convince ourselves that they still want to see us, and not just the baby.
There’s the changes that mothers don’t talk about often. Or often enough, in my opinion. The fact that there comes a point in those fresh new days of motherhood (or before), when you realize that if this little person ever disappeared from your life that you would forget how to breathe, how to blink, how to function. That, as the quote goes, a portion of your heart is walking around separately, will make its own decisions, will disobey you, and will always be bound to you. That’s why that voice of doubt can hurt a mother so easily and deeply. It is hard taking care of another person, especially a helpless little person – which is how the majority of children come bundled into your family. It is hard and rewarding and the greatest tool of teaching God has put into my life so far. The amount of daily sacrifice is incredible and I would not change a bit of it. You cannot go back from having a child, and that is probably the most life-changing portion of it all. That you cannot go back and if you are the right type of parent, the idea of going back is inconceivable.