It can sometimes be easy to wonder what my life might have been like without kids. Watching Chelsea Handler videos on Instagram makes me think I’d be sleeping till noon, day drinking and booking trips to Europe every month. Maybe. Maybe if I had Chelsea Handler’s money.
But the truth of the matter is that for me, working and being single wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I was a workaholic. If I drank Red Bull all day and didn’t eat until swinging by the Taco Bell drive-thru after work at 9 p.m., there was no one there to say otherwise.
I met my husband when I had just turned 30. Not to romanticize things too much, but when we started dating, I began to want to pull away from work more so that I could be with him. I started to think that maybe I could be married and have children. Maybe I could slow down and care about something other than work. A few short years later, we tied the knot and not long after, I became pregnant with my first child.
I chose to be a stay-at-home mom because financially, it doesn’t make much sense to work so that you can pay for childcare just to work. As you can imagine, without work, my world began to unravel a bit. What is a homemaker and how do you do it? Depression and anxiety began to sneak in. I found a local mom’s group and with the support from other women who had been in my shoes, my world began to slowly open up.
Motherhood forced me to dig deeper.
It gave me a reason to try things that I had all but given up on ever doing in my life. When the baby napped, I listened to audiobooks. I started to try to cook more things because I wanted to feed my family. As my son grew, we spent more time outside. Not since childhood had I walked trails in the woods or stopped to look at a bug or been curious about plants that I saw. I started to see things through my son’s eyes. Everything had a renewed excitement to it because it wasn’t just a snow day, it was his first-time sledding. And I went sledding, too.
For me, one of the most wonderful things about having kids is doing all the kid things again that you either didn’t get to do as a kid or did and then stopped doing when you grew up. Trick or treating in costumes on Halloween, going to the zoo, riding on hayrides at the farm, going to the pool, picking apples and strawberries, and so on.
There were other changes, too. Self-care became more of a priority in my life. I started running regularly. I rediscovered my creative side. I started painting and writing stuff like this. I take better care of my health because I want to model that for my kids and because I can.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Parenting is so hard. Marriage is work, too. The hard days are what fuel my daydreams of sleeping until noon and taking vacations to Europe. It’s a hard day that made me write this.
Sometimes it just helps to take an inventory of all the positive ways that motherhood has impacted my life. The truth is, those first few weeks felt like being thrown into an ice-cold swimming pool, but now that I’ve been in for a while, the water feels good and I’m glad that I’m swimming.