I sat at my daughter's gymnastics class the other day and overheard a few other mommies talking (no, I wasn't eavesdropping, these women are LOUD!) One of the mommies is expecting her second. Both of the other mommies already have two and started throwing every cliché response you can image: You'll never sleep again! Two is twice as hard as one! Be ready for the rivalry and acting out from your daughter! You'll have your hands full!
You hear it a lot, all of the negative things about being a mommy. About how your life will never be the same and often it's made to seem like your life is about to END.
But I'm here tell you, no PROMISE you, that in fact, becoming a mommy is not the end of your life. And I won't even be cliché and say that it is really the beginning of your life. It's an extension of your life. Really.
There are a lot of changes that happen when you become a mommy (whether for the first, second, third or more times) but the truth is, you're still YOU. And it's still YOUR life. Any life changes (apart from having a tiny little human to take care of), are your choice.
A baby is not a life sentence, house arrest or 18 years without the chance of parole. Really, it's what you make of it. If you choose to be stuck at home, you will be. If you choose to let your little ones run your life, they will.
But you can also choose to continue your life as it was, just with a squishy little sidekick. This is the choice my husband and I made and I could never even imagine it being different.
We took our eldest out to dinner when she was 6 days old. I was out and about with her on my own within a few weeks (much to the appaul of the well-meaning old ladies at the post office who insisted NO baby should be out of the house before 6 weeks old as they poked and prodded her in my sling). I started three new jobs when she was just 6 weeks old. And she was 10 weeks old when she accompanied my husband and I to The Melting Pot for our one year anniversary dinner.
Our second daughter was a mere 5 weeks old when we hopped on a plane with her and returned to Dublin where we were living at the time and only 7 weeks when we took a ferry to Liverpool. She visited 25 different countries before her 2nd birthday. (We had also continued to travel throughout my pregnancy.)
Our first son accompanied me when I returned to teaching ballet when he was 3 weeks old, attended his first dance performance at a month old and drove across the state with us at only 2 months old.
And our second son attended our neighborhood block party at less than 24 hours old (he was born at home), accompanied me to my daughter's dance class at less than a week old and went with us to Disney at only 4 weeks old (possibly making him the youngest person at Disney that day).
Our children have never stopped us from living the life we wanted or even the life we lived before. Either we take them with us when we do the things we want to our we find someone we trust to take care of them (usually the former). But they have never really stopped us from doing things we wanted to do.
Becoming a mommy is not the end of your life, it's just an expansion of it. Having children opens your eyes to a whole new world. You get to see things from a new perspective, their perspective. You get to experience things as if for the first time again. Having children should expand your world, not narrow it.
It's your life, make what you want of it...and bring the kids along for the ride!
This was previously published on Beyond Mommying.