"Last night Harlow [her dog] had a bit of an upset stomach so I had to let him outside five different times from 2 a.m.- 4 a.m and the only thing I could think about was how my friends with babies do this every. single. night. How do they function the next day? I just don't get it. Being a parent looks exhausting. Rewarding, yes. But so so exhausting."
It was an awesome post and got lots of great comments from people all over blog land who agreed with her. People commented that they like sleeping in, going to brunch, and going on vacations too much to dive into baby-hood just quite yet. One commenter even joked "do you even get to go to happy hour or watch tv when you have kids?"
I was going to leave a big fat comment in response to all this, and then realized I had too much to say for one comment and so I texted Tay and told her I wanted to write a blog response to her blog post (oh, bloggers) and she replied go for it ya weirdo and here we are!
I really really liked Taylor's post because I think it echoes so clearly what so many people feel before they have kids. It was definitely how I felt! I was terrified. Scared pantless. I wrote this post after I got pregnant- basically a "what have I done, there's no turning back and what if I hate this?!?" post. I thought everything that most people who commented on Tay's post thought. No more brunch! No vacations! No sleep til
Well, with a 20 month old baby/toddler I am happy to report some news about having kids. I've learned some things. And it's not nearly as scary/ hellish/ life stopping as some may have you believe. I am here to bust the myths and clear the record!
13 Things That May Not Be True About Having Children
June at one month old. I never thought I could keep a baby alive for a whole month!
1. You never get to sleep! Yes, the first few months while the baby is learning how to sleep is a little wild. But you don't get up five or six times a night! That's a myth. Maybe it happens for some extremely difficult babies. But it's not the norm! When June was a newborn I was up twice a night with her. I pulled her into bed while she nursed in the middle of the night, and I drowsily read my book and then I put her back in the bassinet beside me and we both fell back asleep. Those middle of the night feedings now are some of my favorite happy memories with teeny tiny baby June. By four months old, June was sleeping through the night. It took a little training, but really it wasn't bad. She almost always sleeps through the night now. She usually does a good old fashioned 7 pm- 8 am sleep session. THIRTEEN HOURS! Up until a few months ago June took two long naps during the day and I got all my shiz done. Now she takes one long nap and it is equally awesome. Now, I know June is a really good sleeper and that not all kids sleep like this. But guess what? A lot of people have kids who are really good sleepers. We just don't talk a lot about it because we feel like it's insensitive to the people who have kids who are bad sleepers. But not all babies sleep like crap! In fact, I would even venture to say that most sleep really well. And if your baby is up in the night, you have an amazing excuse to take a nap the next day. Nap when the baby naps! You don't have to be sleep deprived all the time!
2 You can't ever leave your baby! Your baby is not an appendage to your body. There are lots of people who are very capable of making sure the baby doesn't die in a three or four hour period. Especially the father of that child! It always blows my mind how little some moms will leave their babies with the husbands. Yep, they're perfectly capable! A few months ago I was shopping with a friend and I saw a former student of mine and Greg's. "WHERE'S YOUR BABY!?" she accosted me. Uh... the baby is with her father! She's with her dad a lot of the time! The baby who has two parents who are both perfectly capable of taking care of her needs. And when Greg and I want to go out together we are lucky enough to have grandparents close by who are excited to watch June so we can catch a movie or dinner. And when grandparents aren't available WE PAY FOR A BABYSITTER. IT'S A NOVEL IDEA. I get so frustrated when women have babies and then act like they can never go anywhere or do anything without that baby. It involves a little more planning ahead, yes, but by no means are you now banished to your home forever and ever with your child never to appear in public with people ever again.
3. You no longer have the same interests. I remember when I was pregnant with June and told people of my plans to continue to work that some people hinted to me that once I had a baby I would no longer want to teach. They told my all my priorities would shift. Well. My priorities did shift. June is definitely priority #1. But I still like to teach. In fact, I still NEED to teach. I need the social interaction, I need to get out of the house, I need to have an identity that is not mom. I get so much joy and satisfaction from my job. I understand that not everyone wants to continue to work after they have children, and I totally respect that. But if you like doing stand up comedy on Monday nights (like Tay!) then you can still do stand up comedy on Monday nights! Almost all of my college besties with kids still work in some capacity. They are nurses, entrepreneurs, lawyers, occupational therapists, etc. We don't all work full time, but we all have kids and we all *SHOCK* still enjoy the same interests we did before we had kids.
4. You never get to go to brunch again! When your baby is six months or younger it is super easy to bring the baby along with you. She (or he) will mostly sleep in their car seat all the time. And once they are older you put them in a high chair and give them little bits of food and it is awesome. I love taking June out with Greg and me. I mean, we're not idiots, so we don't take her to dinner late at night when she's crazy tired and screams her head off, but a lunch date with June and Greg is one of my all time favorite things.
5. You will never sleep in again! Such a lie! You still get to sleep in after you have a baby! This one shocked me! I remember in the hospital when June was 2 days old Greg and I slept in until 10 am one morning because June just kept snoozing! And I thought, sheesh, I better not tell anyone that we weren't up all night with June or they'll think we're the worst parents ever. Now on weekends Greg and I switch off who gets to sleep in. One of us gets to sleep in until 9 or 10 while the other gets up at 8 with June to watch cartoons. I mean, really, it's a tough gig either way!
6. You can't travel anymore. Yes, you can still go on vacations! And they're even more fun with a kid! I love taking June places with us. Everything is more fun with a kid to show the world to. I loved going to Mexico with June last summer and our road trip to Arizona was a blast with June in tow and nothing is better than a sunny beach day with a baby. I just love bringing June on all of our adventures. Because we have such willing grandparents, Greg and I get to take vacations without June too. Which I highly encourage! Take advantage of grandparents! Just last weekend we got to go to southern Utah for three days and we left June at home. We slept in, went hiking, enjoyed the sun, ate out, sat in hot tubs. It was great. But the best part was when it was over we got to come home and smother June with kisses. Nothing beats coming home to see your babe after you haven't seen her for a day or two.
June bug at the beach in California.
7. You no longer get out with friends. Not true! In fact, I think it's easier to make friends with a kid because the kids serve as a little buffer. Like, "hey... let's take the kids to the park this week." I feel like I get out to do stuff with girlfriends more than ever because we both want to take the kids out to do something. I have more social interaction than I've had since college.
8. You never get time to yourself. We put June down in between 7 and 7:30 every night. It's a dream! I have my whole night to do what I want uninterrupted. I blog, I work on our business, I read books, I watch Jazz games and Netflix. I make cookies. Sometimes I just sit on my phone and do nothing. The trick to sanity when you have children is to make sure that there is still some independence. You gotta keep your sense of self. For me that means putting June down early and getting to do my own thing at night. Oh, and sometimes we call a babysitter to come watch Netflix at our house while June sleeps so we can get out together.
9. You will be so busy with your new baby you will literally never have time to shower or get dressed. I had it in my mind that after I had a baby I would never look presentable. A shower was just out of the question. It's not out of the question at all! I get dressed every day. I take a shower. Even my days when I don't go to work! On my days at home, June and I usually have some activity that we are going to in the morning so we get up and get going. If I wanted to stay in my sweats all day I could, but just because I had a baby doesn't mean I'm wearing pajamas all day every day from here on out.
10. Nothing is as fun anymore. It is always crazy to me when people say they don't want to have kids because they want to have more "fun" first. Everything is more fun with a kid! You think you like Christmas now, wait until you have a kid! And Halloween with a kid is the total bomb. I love having June as my companion even on every day, mundane things. I love taking her to go grocery shopping, to make a deposit at the bank, to go to Target. We get our popcorn and our soda and we just dominate Target. Yes, it takes longer to buckle her up and get her out of the car seat, but it's not that big of a deal. I love having a little friend to go on all my errands with me.
11. Having a baby is soooooo expensive. People love to talk about how much money it is to have a kid. Babies are not expensive. Tons of unnecessary baby crap is expensive. There is SO much stuff you could buy for a kid, but the truth is you don't need that much of it. You need a car seat, a stroller, a crib, diapers and clothes. The other stuff you can take as it comes and there are always places to buy used stuff. Yes, the kid will obviously be expensive over time, but it's not like you just throw ten grand down the second you have a baby. I bought almost everything used for June. And people are often really generous, especially with your first baby. If you have a baby shower you will be covered for so many of the basic things. I promise, the endless baby gear thing is just to scare you! There's not that much you really need. (I saw the other day a contraption that warms up baby wipes for you... I mean, come on people!)
12. Having a baby is the most exhausting in the world. Yes, you will be tired some days, but love trumps exhaustion every time. Okay I know it's cheesy but I just wish that moms talked more about how much we love being moms instead of how "exhausting" being a mom is. I'll be honest, it is work. But everything in my life that has ever meant anything to me has been work. I'm not afraid of work. So when someone says, "Oh having a kid is a lot of work" I don't think that should scare us off. And it's my favorite kind of work! Which would I rather do.... clean the kitchen, put up some new listings on our etsy shop, write a blog post, grade papers, or give June a bath, read her stories and put her to sleep. June! June wins every time! Yes it's work but it the best work ever. Nothing in this world that I have ever done has brought me so much satisfaction or joy or fulfillment as being June's mom.
13. Your love life/ romantic connection with your partner goes down the tube. Not true! In fact, you feel close to your spouse/ significant other in an entirely new way. No one in the world understands how much I love June like Greg does. He is the only person on Earth who gets it. Having that bond has really really helped us during the tough times and the good times. I love connecting with Greg over June. Only he truly understands how cute she looks in her strawberry jammies.
Alright, I think I've gone off long enough. All I'm saying is to everyone who wants to delay having kids as long as possible because you don't want your life to be over, YOUR LIFE WILL NOT BE OVER. It is totally okay that you want to delay having kids, but when do bite the bullet know that it will be totally awesome. You can still enjoy all the things you did before, it will just be a little different. And more fun! I promise. Having kids is the coolest thing ever. I wish I had known this before I had June. I wish I could have understood how much I would enjoy it. I had a student interview me for a health/marriage/family class the other day and one of the questions he was required to ask was, "Do you wish you would have waited longer to have kids?" and I thought about it and said confidently, "No. Not at all. If I had known how much I enjoyed being a mom, I would have had kids earlier, actually." And I mean it. Nothing in this world has brought me the kind of joy that being June's mom has. I'd do it again a million times.
(addendum: I know that some moms experience many of the things that I said are not always true, and I don't want to take away from the experience of anyone. I know some moms are totally validated in feeling exhausted, like they can never leave their child, like they have no friends, etc, etc, etc. But I don't think that's the norm of motherhood and I don't think we should allow those difficult experiences of some to define what motherhood looks like for everyone. To me, motherhood is a much more fun and joy filled experience than that. Women are allowed to give their difficult experiences of motherhood without apology, and I think mothers who don't struggle with those issues should be allowed to give their easy, fun, joyous experiences without apology as well. And I can say confidently that no matter how much one person has struggled being a mom if I asked her, "Is it worth it?" she would say resolutely YES. So to me, that's how we should be portraying motherhood. As totally absolutely worth it.)
P.S. It's Leap Year! We're having a one day sale for 25% off everything in the store at Hey June because this day only comes once every four years! Use code LEAPYEAR for 25% off your order. Good February 29, 2016 only.