Attention New Parents: Your Life Is NOT Over Now that You Have Kids

by Kristen King

Screenshot from the Facebook page for Reasons Mommy Drinks. Love the blog, hate this pic.

Why do other parents say so much discouraging crap to new moms and dads? I thought the misery-disguised-as-advice was rampant when I was still pregnant, but I had no idea what was to come once I popped those suckers out. These Debbie Downers were oh-so-uplifting when I was busy attempting to gestate while puking so much I thought I would upchuck major organs at any moment.

Ten months ago, I wrote:

“Give up on the idea of ever leaving the house,” they tell me. “Sleep now, because you’ll never sleep again,” they warn. “Forget time alone with [Daddy in Training] for the next 18 years,” they say. I’ve learned to smile and keep my mouth shut, but what I really want to say is, “Just because you’ve chosen not to make any of those things a priority in your life and therefore resent your children doesn’t mean I have to do it that way.” I know plenty of well-rested, socially (and sexually!) active parents who have successfully incorporated children into their lives, and I fully intend to become one of them.

I’m happy to report that, with the exception of a few rough days here and there, my life with twinfants is pretty darned awesome. I sleep. I eat real food. I leave the house. I bathe. I get my eyebrows waxed. I meet friends for coffee. I go to the gym. I have dates with my husband. I have a sex life. I do normal human things. And yet, I have twins. Two children under the age of one. Both of whom happen to be teething right now (more on that in another post). It’s a freaking miracle, according to these depressed, miserable parents who apparently hate having children and are protesting normal adult existence as a result. 

I don’t get it. Why would you choose to be so unhappy? Why would you choose to isolate yourself? Why would you fill your internal dialogue with Woe is Me! rants about how you can’t do anything now that you have kids? Or perhaps worse, to surround yourself with people who share the opinion that once you have kids you might as well give up because, as we all know, ha ha ha, babies ruin all your fun.

My life is different, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s more or less universal that your priorities change when you have kids. (If your priorities don’t change when you become a parent, either you led a really bizarre life for a child-free adult or you may need to consider whether you’re doing it wrong.) I don’t zip out to DQ at 11 p.m. when I’m home alone watching Lifetime movies because seriously, who wants to wake two sleeping babies for a late-night field trip to the truck stop? It’s more important to me that my kids be well-rested than I never miss a Zumba class when Daddy-in-Training gets home late from work.

And my life is hard, too. Right now, there is a lot of screaming and not a lot of sleeping because the boys are cutting 9 teeth at once between them. Frankly, this week sucks. But it’s temporary. Miles’ top four broke through, and he’s already feeling better today. We’re almost back to normal. And in the 6 days or so of teething hell, I still managed to work, keep my house looking more or less presentable, cook, bathe, run errands, and a host of other normal people things — despite the fact that I had no workday childcare for a day and a half.

It’s fun to trade war stories with other moms, to get the assurance that you’re not insane for being convinced that that last time the baby bit while nursing was totally on purpose because he thinks it’s funny when you screech, to have someone to call when the baby poops in the bathtub and you don’t know how to clean the tub toys. We’re a community of people who are all going through something challenging and surprising and exhausting and completely amazing, and not all of it is sunshine and lollipops.

But even amid commiseration, even despite the hard parts and the days that make you wonder if you’re really cut out for this mom thing, I’m not interested in perpetuating the mindset that your life is over when you have kids. It’s not. That’s a choice parents make and in my opinion it’s a poor one. I’m not an idealist by any means. (Ask me about the first 6 weeks after the boys came home from the hospital, for instance. It. Sucked. I’m still processing it.) But I don’t buy into the collective delusion that parents can’t be normal people. Does it require some effort on your part? Of course. But it’s doable. And it’s worth it.

Stop telling other parents that it’s all over when they have kids. Stop quashing other parents’ delight over their kiddos’ milestones by pointing out how much more their life will suck now that the baby can XYZ. Stop telling us it only gets harder. Stop telling us that we won’t enjoy it much when fill-in-the-blank depressing thing happens. Let us enjoy being parents, enjoy our children, enjoy our lives.

For those of you who think I’m nuts, that it’s only a matter of time before I get real, I have this to say:

I totally agree with you that motherhood is the hardest thing I have ever done, and each stage brings new challenges, but I love it. I’m sorry you haven’t had as good an experience as I have so far. I hope it turns around for you. In the meantime, stop raining on my parade.

 

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Kristen King (aka, Mommy-in-Training) is a red-headed, glasses-wearing, wine-drinking, perpetually undercaffeinated twin mom who lives at 10,200 feet in Leadville Colorado, and founder of AmateurParenting.com. She and her husband, Jesse (aka, Daddy-in-Training) have fraternal boys born in December 2011, two dogs, and two cats. They are both endurance athletes. She works full-time from home in virtual training, and he drives the local school bus. Learn more and meet the rest of the AmateurParenting.com team on our About page.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Suzanna Brown October 16, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Yahoo! Amen! & Hallejuher! (<<in Madea's voice) Sing it sister! That is all. ;)

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2 Mommy-in-Training October 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm

And another thing! Parents should smile at their kids more. Because kids shouldn’t see only surly complaining parents all the time. Your joyful praise made me think of that. :)

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3 Suzanna Brown October 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Make that *hallelujer =]

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4 Mo December 12, 2012 at 4:40 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you! My husband and I are trying and we already hear the horrible comments. When people complain and complain about their kids, then ask “are we scaring you?” I want to say, ” yes, not the part about kids. Your constant complaining and attitude scares me.”

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5 Krista October 31, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Oh God, thank you so much for this! Newly pregnant and good to know my dream of retaining some semblance of who I am is not an impossible goal. I don’t get the negativity either, especially by parents who never shut up about how bad it sucks and then go on to have more than one. Something does not add up.

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6 Kristen King, Mommy-in-Training October 31, 2013 at 12:44 pm

You are so welcome! I’m not gonna lie. I have bad days. Sometimes I want to shrink them and stick them back in because giving birth again sounds better (and easier) than surviving until bedtime. BUT at the end of every day, THEY ARE WORTH IT. The way they look at me when I tell them I love them, the way they run to me when I come back in the room even if I was gone for only 30 seconds, the unexpected hugs and smiles and giggles, the fun we have together — it MORE than makes up for the hard days. These kids are the best thing I ever did. They have made me a better person. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It will not always be EASY but it will be AMAZING and you will love it. I promise. Good luck!!! Stick around and keep us posted, would you?

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7 christina segura November 8, 2015 at 7:06 pm

thank you for this ! I’m expecting our first son in 5 weeks and I cannot stand the negativity around child rearing. If it’s so awful, why do people continue to have children? I’m sure you’ve gotten some hate over this post, but those people are the same ones who probably say things like “Oh marriage is such HARD work!”. thank you thank you thank you for your positivity.

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8 Mel February 15, 2017 at 10:17 am

THANK YOU I needed this article I have heard that talk and it’s actually discouraged me from having a child but this makes me feel heaps better thank you so much really from the bottom of my ♥…

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9 Kristen King November 21, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Hang in there, mama! It can be really hard, but there is so much beauty. <3 -kk

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10 Erica September 18, 2017 at 7:34 pm

You mentioned all the “normal” adult things you still do…… how?! Do you have lots of money to pay for daycare? I don’t and I definitely am unable to do most of the things you mentioned….. So please do tell how you go to the gym, have a happy marriage WITH a sex life, etc. My son is 13 months and life seems to get harder and harder…. What am I doing wrong? Why am I not enjoying him? Thanks.

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11 Kristen King November 21, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Hey, Erica, apologies for the long delay in my response. You got hung up in my spam filter for some reason. Anyway, I’m sorry you are having a hard time! The first couple of years are rough. Sometimes they are REALLY rough. My kids will be 6 in a few weeks and I still occasionally contemplate running away from home. ;) But generally speaking we’ve found a groove and it really does get easier!

What are some of the things you would like to be able to do but feel you can’t right now? Maybe we can figure out some strategies to get you over roadblocks so you can get more YOU back into your life. -kk

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12 Kathleen January 17, 2016 at 10:15 am

For god sake please don’t dump crap on new parents give them a break do you hate your kids so much that you give this information to other people what do you should do is just sit down shut up and stop picking on these people if you do I will come to each one of your houses and kick the living shit out of you this is a promise

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13 Kristen King January 17, 2016 at 5:41 pm

Kathleen, I’m a little confused. I think you may be too. Did you comment on the wrong article perhaps?

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