To have or not have a baby?
I know I got your attention with that headline, but this isn't about me. I'm not asking if we should have a second child.
We have the one, and we're good with that. One and done.
This is inspired by a conversation with two friends in their late 30's wondering if they should have a child. They're on a fence: they like their yuppie lifestyle, but they also like the idea of a family.
I get that. We asked ourselves that same question before we took the plunge.
Claus and I shared our thoughts on what can be a very difficult question to answer, and it just got me thinking about this nearly decade-long journey of parenthood.
Our short answer is: yes, have a kid or three (if it's just a lifestyle question, money notwithstanding.) They're fun, and they change your life for the better.
Very hard work. Very big reward.
I don't think I would have known what I was missing if we didn't have a baby, but I'm glad I did. I feel I'm a better person for it because it's changed me on the inside.
I don't think I was not good before, and I'd have been perfectly happy to have lived my carefree lifestyle centered around my husband and our whims. I would have stayed caught up on all the current trends, events, movies, music, and restaurants.
We would have been to another 10 countries by now if we continued on our previous travel track. My world would have stayed a tidy, orderly place where I never forgot to pay bills or put money in the account before the check got overdrawn.
I would have always had the time to see my esthetician and hair stylist every six weeks. No roots. No messy brows.
I cannot tell you how many various layers of stress having a baby has brought us. Maybe you think about some of the obvious: having to use your sick day if your child is sick. School applications and tuition. Vacations only in developed nations now. Weekends dedicated to their activities and playdates.
I'll be honest. It can get monotonous.
Every school day is the same thing because only routine can tame the chaos. There are periods in which I just want my time for myself, and it's frustrating.
Some people say "You can keep living your life. You make the kids adjust to yours." I respect that everyone's attitude, situation, finances, and experience is unique, but I totally disagree. It may work for some, but it didn't for us.
For instance, I found that forcing Olivia to stay out late because it suited my travel schedule, or forcing her to sightsee for eight hours in Paris simply ended up backfiring on me. She slept in the stroller and when we returned to the hotel dog-tired, she was wide awake and wanted attention.
I could go on and on about the ways I've adjusted my life around mothering. Work schedules. Priorities. Travel plans. Hobbies. Everything. This whole blog is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.
On the other hand, I really like being a mom. I'm in love with her, and more every day. I had no idea that was even possible.
I look at her sleeping and love to nuzzle in her hair and whisper that I love her. I love how she puts her arm around me and tells me how much she loves me.
Romantic love is great, and you could say all that about your spouse. But, in ways I found tremendous, overwhelming, beautiful, and inexplicable, it's so different with my child.
It's softer, it's deeper, it's bottomless. Even if you think your spouse walks on water, it's still just... more with your child. She's my favorite human in the world.
I get excited to see her after school. I love to talk to her and share her world. I love to make her happy with little gestures and gifts.
I take her to a movie date for Girls' Night Out and she's so happy. It never gets old. Then she brags about it at school, which I think is cute.
I love marking her change and growth, and watching her blossoming intellect and personality. I love when she finally gets a concept we've been working on.
I see the world differently. I'm much more patient, compassionate, forgiving, and nurturing. She reminds me to appreciate what really matters: the connection.
She told me recently she didn't care what we did for our next Girls' Day, as long as we are together. She said we can just take a walk or play at the beach, and that it doesn't need to involve anything fancy or expensive. She's so cool.
I love her, and I love being her mother. I'm grateful that I took a leap of faith and had a kid, because it's been a good journey so far, and I like who I've become, simply because I am learning more each day to see the world through my heart.
So that's my opinion... what advice would you give to someone unsure about having a baby?