I attended a bridal shower last weekend for an old friend of mine. Seated around me were some familiar faces, along with some unfamiliar faces. The conversation quickly moved from small talk to the topic of children, as it often does in a group of young women. I was the only one in the conversation with a child already, whereas the other girls were talking about when/if they're ready for their lives to be changed by having children. My quick response was, "You have no idea how much your life will change." As soon as it came out of my mouth, I immediately wished I could've pulled the words back in. I hate coming off as a know-it-all, and I certainly didn't want to appear condescending, especially considering I am a first-time-mom and my daughter is only 2.
But the truth is, these young women truly have NO idea how drastically your life changes when you have kids. All of them explained that they have adorable nieces and/or nephews that they frequently spend time with, and they how they had seen how their sibling's lives changed after having kids. It was all I could do to bite my tongue from saying, "You've seen how their lives have changed on the outside, but you surely can't see how their lives have changed on the inside." I have found myself being too honest (if there is a such thing) in the past when it comes to raising children, and I've made a vow to myself not to scare anyone in regards to having their own. However, it is impossible to know how much your life will change when you have children. The sleepless nights, the long days, the endless diapers and the constant worrying are to be expected, I can agree with that. But to have someone, an extension of you, walking this earth is a feeling you cannot prepare for until you experience it on your own. To have someone else's needs on the forefront of your mind 24/7 is a feeling you cannot even begin to grasp the gravity of until your children are the reason behind every decision you make. I don't know what it's like anymore to make decisions based solely on my husband's and my needs anymore.
In fact, in a few short weeks, my husband will be taking my daughter out of the country for two weeks to visit his relatives overseas. The initial onslaught of worrying I experienced centered on her level of comfort over there, how she will adapt, whether or not she'll be happy and how her overall adjustment will be. Now that I've convinced myself that I know she will adapt (this isn't the first time she has taken this trip), and that she will be well-taken care of (God bless my mother-in-law and husband), I have started to have an immeasurable amount of anxiety about how I will handle her absence. I don't know how to go about my day without her. I don't know how to think about what I want to do, not what I need to do for her. I don't know how to spend my time without first concentrating on what would best fill her time, and I certainly don't know how wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night without planning out her days. Just the thought of having to focus on me and my needs is absolutely terrifying. I know in the end this will be good for all parties involved. My husband will get the chance to bond with her in a way that he never has, my daughter will learn to adapt in new situations, and I'll have the chance to reflect and focus on myself.
It won't be easy, though. It will take lots of deep breaths, a lot of time spent with good friends, and, undoubtedly, a lot of FaceTiming.
So, in an attempt not to sound condescending, I just want to urge those who have not yet had kids to trust those of us who have. You think you know, but you have no idea.