Parenthood just overwhelms you with its intensity. Before I had my son, my life often seemed like something was missing. The minute I became a parent, all of a sudden my life was way, way too much (but in a good way). Let’s just say that parenthood is an abundance of riches.
I’ll never forget the evening I realized that I was now experiencing life as a parent. My son was about two years old and asleep in bed. My husband and I were watching the movie “Whatever,” about a high school teenage girl dealing with family dysfunction, social pressures and applying for college. We were watching the scene with the backyard teen party and beer bong. Normally I would have thought, “oh, no big deal. Just a bunch of kids getting loaded.” But not this time. I became extremely agitated and thought, “where are those kids’ parents?” To this day I still wonder, at what point did I cross the magical line from “oh, no big deal” to “where are their parents?” My guess is it was the moment our son joined us.
Parenthood is a state of mind. Empathy is a skill that is not easily taught, but kids are very patient teachers. In fact, they may be the most valuable teachers we’ll ever have. This is the biggest way, perhaps, that parenthood has changed my life.
Another life-changer when you have kids is that you learn to separate tasks into two categories – those you have time for and those you don’t. And invariably, the tasks you have time for turn out to be the most important ones. So kids teach you what’s important in life; where your time is most wisely spent. This is not an easy thing to teach, but children are persistent (as I mentioned before).
Parenthood can also change your life by inspiring you to get your financial act together, and fast. Children are very expensive. And we parents want the best for our children, so there’s that extra surcharge, that compelling carrot dangling in front of us. I don’t think I really learned to manage money until I became a parent. Before I had a child, money managed me. Things are very different now. I not only budget, but I plan well into the future. I doubt I would ever have learned to do this, had I not become someone’s mom. It’s just not in my nature. Thus, I can say that my son is the best financial planning teacher I have ever had.
Parenthood has raised my social consciousness as well. I’m not just my son’s mom. I’m everyone’s mom! I not only look out for other people’s children, but I think about how I want the world to be for all children, and try to find ways to bring it about. One of my goals for the future is to sign up with an organization that betters the lives of children, and give it a solid boost, in whichever way I can.
Another thing parenthood has taught me is how to accomplish a whole lot more, in less time and with less effort. I have become much more resourceful. And I have supernatural powers! I have eyes in the back of my head. I not only have a sixth sense, but a seventh and eighth as well. I guess most people would call this multi-tasking. Maybe, but on a 4-D level. It’s like playing a video game, but instead you’re actually running around inside the game, like in the movie “Spy Kids 3D.” I would like to propose a new Olympic event just for parents. It’s called “Getting Your Kids Ready for School in the Morning.” Can you pack a lunch, sign a permission slip and get a kid ready for school inside of a half-hour? Try it. (I should warn you, though, that I intend to take gold in this event. You’ll have stiff competition.)
These are the ways that parenthood has changed my life. We parents don’t expect this, going into the deal. And when you’re actively involved in the early a.m. feedings, toilet training, the endless games of Candyland, and explaining to your all-too-fascinated child where the birds and the bees come from, it’s sometimes hard to see what an enormous blessing (and gift) parenthood is. But consider this – each and every milestone your child achieves will both thrill you and break your heart. Because you will never pass exactly that way with your child again. So enjoy it as much as you can. And take lots of photos!
“Whatever” , Dir. Susan Skoog. Sony Pictures Classics, 1998.