Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What surprised me about being a parent

I was just reading the top ten surprises of new parents on Babycenter and thought about what surprised me most. Here is what they listed on their site:

Surprise #1: Your relationship with your partner will change
Surprise #2: You'll have no idea where the time goes
Surprise #3: You may look different
Surprise #4: You'll join an exclusive worldwide club
Surprise #5: You'll be stronger than you ever imagined
Surprise #6: You'll make "mistakes" you never anticipated
Surprise #7: Your friendships will change
Surprise #8: There'll be times when you hate parenting
Surprise #9: You'll be overwhelmed by love (and other emotions)
Surprise #10: You'll have to let go sooner than you think

The main ones I agree with are #1, #8, and #9. My relationship with Jean-Louis has changed but that's because most of our energy is now focused on caring for and building our relationship with Tristan. We can't spend much quality time together and are less affectionate towards each other. It seems like we exhaust all of our affection on Tristan. Why? Well, #9! We are overwhelmed with love for Tristan. We shower him with kisses and hugs all the time. He's adorable these days and it's great knowing that he is part of us and that he is ours to keep. We are also overwhelmed by other emotions, as #9 suggests. Some of those emotions were confusion, uncertainty, fear and a bit of everything really. There were many more negative emotions the first few months when he arrived and yes, we hated parenting at times. Every now and then when things get too difficult, we wish we were still living the life we used to.

What else surprised us about being new parents? There are so many sacrifices to make. Say goodbye to pretty much everything unless you are willing to be super tired and hungry. In the early days, we would watch part of a dvd in exchange for sleep. For example, instead of sleeping 4-5 hours that day, we would sleep an hour less. We ate more junk food because there wasn't time to cook healthy meals and the house was always filthy. Since Tristan was born, we have only had 30 minutes of alone time outside of the house without him.

For the first time ever, we really felt like we needed some help. I can see why new parents want to be close to their family and friends and have their parents live with them. We didn't have that and being on our own proved to be one of the most difficult journeys we had to go through. If things had been different, we probably would have been happier parents.

For myself personally, I was surprised at how natural it was for me to fall into the role. Also, I had no idea a crying baby would stress me out so much. It is true, when it is your own baby it is so much more difficult. I can't work 25 hours a week and take care of a baby full time by myself. For some reason, I thought I could. Boy, was I wrong! I can't get myself to run more and I eat a lot of sweets. I thought I would be motivated more but I have excuse after excuse not to exercise now. I didn't see that one coming either. So much for running a half-marathon at the end of the year.

Last but not least, babies are a big investment emotionally, financially etc. It will be the biggest decision you will make when you start a family. I would suggest not rushing into it. Parenting is not for everyone in my opinion. I'm still not certain how my career will be affected. Also, the cost of having a child is equivalent to purchasing a home. You spend 20 years or so paying for it and taking care of it. It really is. But then in the end, it is all worth it (right?).


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