I am 28. I have been with my husband for 11 years, married for two. We have a cute little golden retriever dog, a lovely new house, and great friends and family. We both have good jobs, hobbies that we enjoy, and we are currently working on some basement renovations. While winters can be tough, I love my summers, I love my life, and I love my friends. I am not yet a parent. But I’m 28, and we want kids one day and to have a family – so I might be a parent, soon.
So I am grieving. I am grieving the loss of my current life before I have kids. And I think you should, too.
I have done a LOT of reading about becoming a parent. I frequent the likes of Scary Mommy, The Bump and many others – basically to scare the crap out of myself so that when I get to the ACTUAL “being a parent” thing, maybe I can handle it.
Here’s what I’ve heard a lot about. Poop. Vomit. More poop. More vomit. No sleep. Everything changing. Significant and somewhat alarming body changes. Huge life changes. No freedom. Painful breast feeding. A LOT of controversy. A lot of advice. Health scares. Autism. Being so busy your head spins. Money problems. Huge changes in your sex life. No sex life. The list literally goes on.
I’m banking on the one thing that every article written seems to end with: That it’s all worth it.
Good lord I hope it’s worth it. I hope everyone is right. I’m excited to feel that way one day with my own children. But I can’t forget all the rest of the information out there about everything changing, since I haven’t yet read an article where someone has said, “So I popped him/her out, and jumped right back into my life with no problem at all!”
So I have a theory. I am a mental health counsellor – I even have a book coming out with New Harbinger Publications in Spring 2016 called How to Like Yourself. I help people deal with significant life changes, traumas, disappointments, and transitions every day. I work with college and university students, so I’m extrapolating a little bit here, because I’ve never personally worked with very many new moms. But I think I’m really on to something here, and I think everyone else should be doing this, too.
Here’s the extrapolation: A lot of the emotions and changes involved in becoming a parent sound very similar to going through job losses, failures, breakups, conflicts, and other significant life transitions. I have a lot of experience working with people who are experiencing these things. The same strategies that are helpful in coping with those transitions sound like they would be hugely helpful for exactly something like this. And that is: you have to grieve the loss of something that you once had that you enjoyed before you can move positively and whole-heartedly into the next stage of your life.
So I’m just starting ahead of time. I am grieving. And I don’t think it should be something to feel guilty about. I know there’s a huge taboo around being sad, especially around being sad about becoming a parent, because it’s all supposed to be beautiful, magical, and the greatest time of your life.
But I love my life – the good, bad, and the ugly. Part of me wishes that I could keep going as I am now and just never change. But I have always wanted a family, and time is not infinite. I have years yet to decide for sure, but I do not have forever. So I’m trying to wrap my head around what a life as a new mom might look like.
It will look like adorable Facebook photos, cute little outfits, and more love and cuddles than I could ever ask for. But it will also look like is little to no sleep, frustration, lots of bodily fluids, anxiety, and possibly post-partum depression. Fewer nights out, if any. Loss of friends who aren’t in the same life stage. Loss of free time and the ability to do a lot of my hobbies.
I will have to give up a lot of things. So I am grieving. I am sad about giving those things I think it is fair and healthy to be sad about those losses. To think that my life will be exactly as it was before having a child is to just lie to myself.
I’m really hoping I like the changes that becoming a parent will bring. I will be stepping into a huge unknown, which is permanent, so I’m really, really, really hoping that I like it. I’m lucky that I have tons of support, a great husband, and that I am at a fairly stable point in my life should I choose to go forward into parenthood. But it will still be hard to say goodbye to this current stage of my life.
So until I’m ready, I will grieve. And I think you should, too. So that when you finally do have that little person looking up at you, that you are ready to step whole-heartedly into that new life with them, as best as you can.