I know that I’m supposed to whip out photos of my daughter and tell strangers that she’s smart for her age and to reminisce about the days when she was so tiny that she could fit in my hands. I’m expected to cry out because time is moving too quickly. I’m supposed to convince my childless friends that they’re “missing out” on the “best experience” of their lives. I’m supposed to say that I learned to be less selfish and I’ve learned the true meaning of unconditional love. I’m basically supposed to be a walking billboard for motherhood. But, you know what? I’m not.
Of course most of what I said is true—-motherhood has taught me a lot and has made me less selfish. I have experienced unconditional love. I have a completely different view on life and the world that would not be possible had I not become a mother. But I don’t think that means I should twist the narrative of parenthood into a sales pitch. Because, truthfully, parenthood isn’t for everyone. There are lesser known truths about parenthood that have turned into watered-down memes or jokes.
People on Twitter sum up parenthood by complaining in short sarcastic quips. And on Instagram, it seems beautiful. Overall it’s advertised as funny and a bit crazy but overall it’s great. But that’s not even the tip of the iceberg that is parenthood. Honestly, if you think parenthood will be anything like the descriptions seen on social media or the way it’s depicted in movies or sensationalize by the latest celeb pregnancy, you’re so wrong. And so, since I’ve become a mom, I never ever ask other people when they’re having kids. First of all, it’s none of my business but also, I don’t want to make someone feel like it’s something they have to do. I don’t want to make someone feel pressured or to invite them into this “club” when they have no idea what they’re in for.
In truth, none of us really know what we’re in for before we have children but I remember feeling pressured to rush the whole process. First of all, the minute you’re married the questions start rolling in “When are you having a baby?” And then I was hit with the news that getting pregnant might not be as easy as I had thought and so, instead of taking my time, I started to speed things up.
I didn’t know it then, but I was far from ready to have a baby. And if I’m honest I feel so betrayed by those who sold me this image of what motherhood would be like—cute outfits, cuddling, sweet smells and baby talk. It wasn’t until I was pregnant that the warnings came—-the sleep deprivation, the cost, the end of my social life. Yet no one warned me about postpartum depression or anxiety. No one warned me that being finically stable and in a committed relationship just was’t enough to combat the battles ahead. I’m here to tell you, becoming a parent means you’re bringing home an additional member of the family yet it feels incredibly lonely at times. Also, becoming a parent will test your relationships, all of them. You’ll be bombarded with unsolicited advice and shamed for decisions you do or do not make. You’ll lose yourself. You’ll realize your weaknesses and they’ll seem amplified. You’ll feel vulnerable. You’ll come out on the other side but I can’t promise you’ll be the same.
It may seem like overall I’m saying “run as fast as you can.” Or that I’m trying to convince people to not have children. No. I want all of my friends and family members without children to know, it’s not the solution to feeling lonely or depressed. Having a child will not fix your marriage. And even if you have a great job and are in a happy relationship, it will flip your world upside down. Having a child “at the right age” or “at the right time” is a joke. No one says this enough, but it’s not enough to have all of “your ducks in order.”
The decision is yours. And should be done on your own time. But there are some things you should know. You will need a ton of time to heal both physically and emotionally. You will need months not weeks to adjust, maybe even more. You will need a lot of emotional support. You’ll need a reliable and trustworthy village to support and help. You might feel sad when everyone else is happy. You’ll miss your old life sometimes, or maybe often. You’ll battle guilt. You’ll doubt yourself. A lot of the things you said you’ll never do when you have kids, you’ll do. You cannot and should not attempt this crazy ride without help, and even with, it’s hard AF.