Having children can rock your world. It turns everything upside down and flips your life right on its nose. To new parents, it’s a freight train you didn’t see coming. The noise is loud and the light is blinding.
First you’re dropped into a pit of sleep loss to the point of near insanity. Days and nights are interchangeable. Remembering to brush your teeth is a thing of the past and the memory of your last shower is a question. And when you do shower, you find yourself wondering if actual hair washing occurred (and with what).
During the next phase, hopefully the non-sleep schedule has released its grip and full sentences are making their way back into your speech. Bonus if your teeth are brushed. Getting rid of that gawd-awful infant carrier is so liberating. You may consider having a party. But that feeling is quickly replaced with the terror and scramble of trying to prevent your kid from splitting their head open on every object imaginable.
Raising kids can be the most difficult, gut-wrenching experience – there’s a reason I refer to it as “Parenting from the Trenches.” It’s a battle and having a partner in crime makes things easier but in no way does that make it easy. Kids are experts in wearing parents down. As babies, we may strap them to our chest and wear them around town but they are the ones who wear us.
If you’re a reader who doesn’t have kids and you want to, don’t go tearing down the street screaming just yet.
Having children may be the hardest job you will ever encounter but it will also be the most rewarding, fulfilling ride around. Really. Some people would buy tickets for this ride. Nothing compares.
In the beginning, sleep loss is just a small part of the total package. Time moves at its own pace and that’s OK because every moment is savored. Cuddling at 3AM wouldn’t be traded for the most luxurious hotel room in Italy. (Um, right?) After some time, you find your groove and you never thought you’d be so excited watching someone smash food in their face.
Your partner in crime is also your teammate. If you’re doing it right, you will not only have someone to vent to but someone who understands when you desperately say, “your turn! I’m leaving!” But, truly the best part is when your teammate can share in those exciting snapshots – like when junior babbles something incomprehensible or pokes the family dog in the eye.
Anyway, the reason I’m talking about all this is because spending every waking moment caring for another human-being changes you. You have no choice about it.
As far as I’m concerned there are two ways to lose yourself after having kids. First, if you’re not careful, you could lose yourself totally. You could forget who you are, what you love to do, and the things you enjoy. This doesn’t make you a better or worse parent but it does keep your children from learning about who YOU are (outside of being their parent).
The second way to lose yourself after kids, is in the moments of raising them. This includes everything; from being totally wrapped up in a messy project to holding hands while balancing on a log. It’s totally worth ditching your watch. Investing in a pair of rain boots with the sole intention of puddle hopping is absolutely the way to go.
Since this is a how-to article, I would say the best way to lose yourself after having children is to maintain your identity but lean into every crushingly-hard-sweet-simple moment there is. And don’t let a single one of them get away.