Before I had children, a girlfriend, who was already a mom, gave me a bit of advice I didn’t understand at ALL: once you’re a mom your life will never be carefree again.
I naively thought I understood that statement. I also arrogantly thought it wouldn’t apply to me.
I was determined the hubby and I would still have date nights at least twice a month, and there was just no way we’d sit and talk about the baby, like so many couples we knew did. We had interests and hobbies that had nothing to do with babies, and that’s what would be discussed during nights out.
I was so determined to make sure our life stayed carefree I booked and planned a romantic weekend away during my third trimester of my first pregnancy for AFTER the baby was born. See? My carefree life was still going to happen.
My 4:45 am alarm clock wake up so I could go to the gym 6 days a week? Of course that would happen once the baby got here. Seriously, I was a morning television news anchor for close to 10 years before I had a kid, I knew sleep deprivation. I had to wake up at 3 am to get to work. So how hard could it really be to deal with a newborn that didn’t sleep much? I could certainly get myself to the gym by 5am and still be able to manage an infant.
On that same note, I was one of 10 kids (Good Catholics, if you’re wondering). I had upwards of 20 nieces and nephews and I changed my first diaper at 6 years old. I grew up with kids all around, so of course, I knew how to raise a baby (you’re laughing at that last statement aren’t you? I know I am!). I’d been watching my parents and siblings doing it my whole life. How hard could it be? (Once again, go ahead and laugh).
Then the baby, better known as Ben, arrived... and then things got REAL.
Those date nights? Yeah, they happened… every few months. The hubs and I did catch up while we tried our best to stay out (I mean awake) past 8pm. We talked about… THE BABY. Those hobbies and interests? They were still there. I loved reading a great novel. If EVERY book about how to get your baby to sleep through the night counted as a novel, I was reading ALL THE TIME!
That weekend away? It happened. Ben caught his first cold two days before we were supposed to leave, so what was supposed to be a carefree (there’s that dreaded word again!) weekend away to reconnect as a couple turned into a constant worry about if my baby was going to survive his first cold, and of course I just knew that somehow my abandoning him in his time of need was going to adversely affect him, which in turn made me the worst mother to ever live.
That 4:45 am wake up 6 days a week? Yeah, I kept exercising… with a baby strapped into a jogging stroller while I ran a couple of miles a week. Ben turns 7 in a couple of months, and I once again wake up at 4:45am to exercise, but I’ve never gotten back to 6 days a week. I’m planning on that happening: likely in the year 2030 when my youngest is set to graduate high school. I know see that as a reasonable and attainable goal.
Sleep Deprivation? Nothing, not even anchoring a morning news program, can prepare you for the sleep deprivation that comes with having a baby. You just have to experience it for yourself.
How hard can raising a baby/toddler/child be? SO HARD!!!! There are absolutely no words that can ever explain to someone who is not a parent just how hard parenting is. I know most people say it’s also the most rewarding thing a person will ever do… yeah, I don't think that’s always the case. I’d say it’s about 50/50.
I will say this: even during those days and weeks (and sometimes months) when parenting is tough, rough, and messy, those little beings have 100% of my heart and soul, and I wouldn’t take my old carefree life back if it meant not having them in it. (Okay, okay, I'd take it for a day a two).