I can’t tell you how many people told me prior to my daughter’s birth that becoming a parent will change your life. They were a little generous. Parenting is glorious and terrifying at turns. It’s a growing experience, in more ways than one.
1) You Stop Thinking of Yourself. . .Literally:
Food, clothing, personal time. All things that people want and need fly out the window with the first infant cry. I skipped meals and often didn’t shower that first month because of constant feedings. At one point, I found myself sitting on the floor in the late afternoon, hungry, crying and still in my pajamas because my daughter was ready to feed and wouldn’t be consoled.
The feeling that you’ve failed your child or simply don’t know enough may be the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never been able to maintain enough of a milk supply for my daughter to breastfeed exclusively. To top that off, she soon became impatient with the lack of milk and one day began to scream every time I put her to breast. No rejection from a boy, job or friend has ever been as painful.
3) Relationships Get Harder:
Every relationship goes through rocky times. And even though having a child together is a joyous experience you’ll both share, it’s also one of the toughest. Basic things like having a meal together and spending time alone become cherished treasures to be snuck in. Sleep is lacking, patience runs thin and it’s far easier to snap than to speak rationally about problems.
4) The Meaning of Love Changes:
Pre-baby, love may mean time alone, intellectual conversations, shared dreams. Parenting brings out a whole different aspect of love. As a parent, nothing says love more than a partner who rises early for morning diaper changes and feedings. The little things are even more precious, like picking up last-minute groceries and becoming the official changer of poopy diapers.
5) It Doesn’t Matter in the End:
Being a parent is downright difficult at times, emotionally and physically. But you look at what you have to show for it and you can’t help but feel nothing but joyous satisfaction. Even when I’m at my lowest, sobbing because of any number of problems, I’ll look at my daughter. She’ll look back at me, eyes wide and nonjudgmental, and she’ll smile. That’s all I need.