Wow. When I wrote my last post on finding contentment with staying at home with the kids, I had not realized how much it would resonate with ALL mothers, and not just mothers who are with their kids all day long. I wrote this post together with the last post. Both were in response to prompts from other parents.
Children. Such blessings who bring so much joy to your life, yet having children is at times so chaotic and so consuming that it feels as if they really take over your life completely, like some kind of alien invasion. A classic example is many mothers can’t even go to the toilet for 5 minute of peace without getting interrupted.
I had my first child in my early 30s, which is by no means “young”, but most of my friends were only about to have theirs, or were not even considering it. For the first three years after starting a family, we were still living with my in laws, so it was relatively easy to pop out to hang out with friends on occasion. But before we knew it, we were up to our necks with 3 kids, not living with the in laws, and going out spontaneously became a thing of the past.
When the kids are young, there are no ends to the 24/7 care taking, and even to leave them for a few short hours you might have to make a zillion arrangements for each child, or you leave and come back to a child having a breakdown, or…. Sometimes I felt guilty for being away, or the short time away wasn’t all quite worth it. Many times it was exhausting, and frustrating. How I missed those carefree days, or envied those who were still carefree. And if marriage is tying someone down, what was having children? House arrest?
If that’s how you are feeling now, take heart. It’s a common phase that every parent goes through, and this too will pass. Now that my youngest is turning 4, I’m enjoying their independence. I finally have at least three short hours when everyone is in school, and I’m not lugging around a baby anymore. Now that I have a bit of breathing space, I finally having the time to do my own things and to catch up with friends. Of course it isn’t the carefree days of the before kids era, but when they are teens, I’m sure I will be missing those days of needing me.
I also feel so blessed and thankful for the friends who have been understanding through the years. The ones whom I didn’t have as much time for before, the ones whom I was only able to see rarely, or didn’t see for years. I feel blessed that they’ll (mostly) still be around to hang out with in years to come. Many friends have also been busy with their own kids, and I’m pretty sure as all our children grow older, we’ll be back to some of our old shenanigans. As seniors we will probably need an earlier bedtime. Ha!
So for anyone feeling suffocated by their young kids, or thinking that having one or even having more children will cramp their style, all I have to say is: you bet it will.
In their early years it might be tough and tiring. You might lose your sanity, your body, and half your salary to feeding and clothing those little monkeys. You might not get that promotion at work. You might never get to do all those things on your bucket lists. There are many things you will never get to see/do/etc.
However I promise, in return, you will discover a peace and joy that is unparalleled in any hobby or material good. Your world will change. Your kids will be the glue in your marriage. And in a crazy world that is increasingly difficult to navigate with social media and technology, you will not regret spending all that time with them while they are still willing.
Here is what I’ve learnt from observing friends and acquaintances: Don’t wait until you are “ready”, then find that it doesn’t come easily. Don’t wait until you get bored of your career and restless in life. Don’t wait until you lose meaning in your life and have to quit your job or roam the world to find the meaning. Don’t wait until you reach 40 and start to wonder what is the purpose of life. Don’t wait until you’re too old to have that second or third child.
Don’t wait until you regret it.