Do You Really Think You’re Ready for Kids?
By Tina Trikha
Think long and hard before you decide to have children.
Given that you’re reading a site that’s targeted towards parents, chances are that this advice is already too late. But in the off chance that you’ve just landed here and are thinking of having children, please take a pause. And think again.
Kids will test you, exhaust you, pester you, unnerve you and push you to the brink of insanity. They will empty your reservoirs of patience and much of your savings as well. They will transform you from normal human beings with lives and interests of your own into zombies that gurgle and talk in baby language.
I know your parents, in-laws, extended friends and family are all advising you to have children. They are telling you how wonderful it will be to have a baby, how it will complete your family, and how it will make you and your spouse connect on another level.
They are lying. Or at least, only telling you half the truth.
What they aren’t telling you is how difficult things will be in the first several months of parenthood. They aren’t telling you about the months of sleep deprivation, the painful process of adjusting to breastfeeding, the inability to plan anything for fear of disrupting the baby’s schedule, and the complete lack of time for yourself. They also are likely not sharing with you how much harder you and your spouse will have to work on your own relationship, even as the baby consumes every moment of your being.
Of course, you will be thinking through a lot of factors as part of your decision. You will be debating timing, career choices, financial situation, and caregiver options – all of which are undeniably, extremely important parameters to think through as a couple before you decide to have a child.
But rarely, does anyone ask you to think through the emotional and physiological rollercoaster that comes as part of being a parent. Having a baby consumes your life, particularly for mothers. You will be on call 24/7 – feeding, burping, calming, cleaning, and bathing the baby. In the early months, when the baby doesn’t respond to your affections and you don’t feel overwhelmed with the motherly emotions that everyone had exalted to convince you to grow the clan, you will wonder, albeit belatedly, if you made the right choice. And you will feel horribly guilty about even pondering that question.
It will be on those days that you will wish that someone had told you the whole truth. You will wish that you had realized that while you wanted to have kids, you also loved the way your life used to be. You may still have made the same choice, but at least you wouldn’t have been blindsided by the complete change in all aspects of your life.
You will glance towards one of the many parenting magazines that have replaced your pre-baby reading material. Staring back at you from the cover page is a new mother, resplendent in perfectly applied makeup. Her perfectly coiffed curls fall gracefully on her shoulders while her young baby sleeps peacefully in her arms. There are no dark circles under her eyes, her skin looks remarkably fresh and her hair looks nothing like your matted and tangled one. Her serene smile suggests that she has complete control over her life. In frustration you fling the magazine across the room and wonder how she manages to look so happy, while you are struggling to remain sane (Answer: She’s a model without kids and she’s about to hand that baby back to his disheveled mother).
And then one day, when you’re covered in spit up, sore from nursing and groggy from being up all night, you will hear a gurgle from your little one. She will be looking at you, reaching out towards you with her little fingers and smiling. Much to your surprise, it will be a genuine smile, not just one of those facial grimaces that looks like a smile when she’s actually passing gas.
And in that moment, you will realize that you have fallen completely, undeniably and irrevocably in love with this tiny little creature that you have created. And you will know that despite the exhaustion on multiple levels, you did make the right choice.
So if you are thinking of having children, do think again. They will pester you, trouble you, annoy you and exhaust you. But they will also change you. They will make you experience emotions of love and caring that you never felt before and they will – in time – make you incredibly happy.