“Your life will never be the same again’’
Do any of us really understand how true this is, before we become parents?
It is impossible for anybody to explain that at the moment your child comes into this world, life as you know it will cease to exist. I naively thought that nothing would change, except that we would have a mini version of ourselves in our home to share our lives with. After all, how difficult could it be to change a few nappies and feed a baby?
I knew I would not be trekking deep in the heart of the Costa Rican rainforest or white water rafting with a baby in tow, but I sincerely thought that I could do everything else quite easily. After all, a stay-at-home parent’s job is a piece of cake compared to a full-time job and returning home after a long day to do chores around the house. Or so I thought.
I discovered that parenthood is hard. The hardest thing is that there are no off days. If you are sick, you still have to get up and be a parent because there is a tiny being who depends on you. There suddenly are not enough hours in the day to do half of the things you set out to do.
So, I wish I could write these things to the pre-parent me.
You know that with most new babies come sleepless nights. But sometimes, weeks of frequent night waking turn into months or even years of torture. Yes, it does happen and it happened to me. So, sleep like you have no care in the world. Everything can wait. Put your legs up, close your eyes and drift into a deep, uninterrupted snooze. Actually, enjoy the sensation of floating to sleep with no worries about when you would be woken up. Sleep is high in the list of precious experiences in this world. You will learn this the hard way and you will miss it terribly. Wake up slowly, whenever you can. Open your eyes and stay in bed. Appreciate how comfortable it is in your bed. Take a nap whenever you feel like it and wherever you want to.
Your house is clean
Stop obsessing. Once you have kids, it will never be as clean or organised as it is now, so just relax. You can survive a thin layer of dust on the furniture. You will soon get used to clutter, basins of laundry which need to be ironed and food hidden in the strangest of places. You will also experience mysterious and faint smells of urine in your plush carpet and sofa as an after effect of the wonderful adventures of potty training. So, enjoy your impeccably clean and incredibly organised home while you can. It will not last.
Enjoy your free time.
Take a long shower – so long that you use up all the hot water. Take your time on the toilet. You will never get that numb feeling in your leg from sitting on the toilet for too long again. Enjoy your privacy. Use the bathroom with the door open or closed or however you like because you are free to do so. You have no audience – yet. Be selfish. Do nothing and don’t feel guilty about it. Read a book with no disturbances. Watch your favourite TV programme in peace. Exercise.
Dine like a human being. You will soon have to master the skill of cutting your food and eating it with just one hand because your other hand will be too busy feeding somebody else. Go out whenever you feel like going out, and stay out late. Camp out on a beach at night and lie down on the cool, moist sand. Don’t go back home until you have enjoyed the vision of sunrise. Never take anything for granted and savour life. Travel to faraway places and experience adventures that will fuel your memories for the years to come. Most important of all, appreciate your partner and the time you have alone together.
Know how beautiful you truly are.
Never look in the mirror in despair. You look great. If you ever feel less than beautiful, remember that you have the luxury of time to make yourself look amazing. So do it!
Listen to advice
Don’t just hear it, listen to it. When the time comes, everyone from your mother, to your neighbour, to the old man you have just met at the bus stop will all have an opinion about how to raise a child. They will irritate you and will make you want to bury your head under a pillow. But listen to them. Sift through that information because some advice is worth listening to. You do not know it all, even though you think you do.
I say all this because when you become a parent you will be worn out, frazzled and at the end of the day, you will sometimes feel like you cannot possibly wake up and do it all over again. But you can and you will because when you become a parent, everything that was important before, will now be less so to make room for a greater love. A love that will break you, elate you and fill your world.
But nothing will ever be the same again. They were ever so right on that one!