Sunday, March 22, 2015

I Don't Miss My Life Before Children

From time to time I read blog posts about missing the woman you were before you had children: when you had free time, more money, and could sleep in on the weekends.

I read them sort of like I'd read the memoir of a Navy SEAL. Interesting, and I don't discount any woman's experience, but I can't relate at all.

Why I Don't Miss My Pre-Kid Life -- what it really really means to lose your childfree life and pick up a new one as a mom {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
photo by Lance Shields

Sure, I can sympathize. I know kids change everything.

I have 5 of them and understand pretty well that once you're a mother, you need to pack like a nomad traveling through the desert every time you go anywhere. Date nights suddenly require a Herculean effort, me-time is as rare as a Bigfoot sighting, and most of the time you're just really tired.

But still, I can't say that I miss my pre-kid life.

Part of it is that I married and had kids young: I got married a month after my 21st birthday and had my first baby just before turning 22. 

So it's not like I was giving up a fabulous lifestyle to become a scullery maid. When you're 21 years old, you don't have a lifestyle. You have a basement apartment with furniture from your parents' garage and Ramen noodles for dinner.

Basically all of my adult life, I've been a wife and a mom. I've never really seen my kids as additions to my life or changes to my life  they're simply an integral part of it and always have been.

Why I Don't Miss My Pre-Kid Life -- what it really really means to lose your childfree life and pick up a new one as a mom {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Me, Phillip, and our first baby graduating from college together.
Next stop: world domination.

I know having children involves a level of losing yourself that's incomprehensible to most people without kids. Sometimes when Phillip has a hard day at work I joke, "Well, at least your boss lets you decide when to go to the bathroom!"

I'm only half-kidding when I say this.

When you have kids, nothing is just yours anymore. Enjoy the first few sips of your drink because after that it'll be filled with graham cracker backwash. You have to hide in the garage to eat a cookie, and forget about privacy when using the restroom.

They even take over your thoughts, so that you're constantly worrying about them and thinking about them, even when they aren't there.

Becoming a mom, whether you stay at home full-time or work or a combination of the two, changes you. It does involve losing yourself.

I think that's okay, though. Motherhood is one of the things I think of when I read: "He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 10: 39.)

Losing your pre-child life might involve some honest-to-goodness grief, and I can imagine that the longer you've lived it the more intense the sorrow might be.

But in losing my life to pick up the life of a mom, I've found myself. Throughout my 10-year journey as a mom, my character has changed for the better. I'm more responsible, less lazy, more willing to help, more understanding. (I'm still working on "more patient.") 

Had I not laid aside whatever childfree life I could've pursued, who knows: I may have developed those same characteristics, but all I know is that in my present life, motherhood has been the crucible where my best qualities are developed and the roughest parts of me are continually sanded and polished.

Heck yes, I would love to take an an uninterrupted shower once in a while. But still, I don't miss the woman I was before kids because in mothering, I've truly found my life. 

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Unremarkable Files

19 comments:

Megan said...

So well put. I completely agree!

Peggy said...

I don't remember the woman I was before kids! but there is nothing I would change, they are my world.

Samantha P said...

I love this Jenny - I had some times when I had my firstborn and was struggling where I really needed to read someone tell me that choosing parenthood was the right thing to do. However - as you say, it is very different for me as I had my first child at 38. Twenty years of pre child adulthood allows you to explore many avenues and makes the life of a mother that much more of a shock to the system. But I agree that the experience is humbling and helps you to become a better, more responsible person. X

Rachel said...

This sounds like the kind of thing my own mom would have written. I've heard her laugh at the very idea of missing life before children--she's always made it clear that having the 7 of us kids has been a huge 'awesome factor' in her life. Her attitude toward us really impacted me when I was growing up--I think it's a great treasure to be able to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that your mom enjoys you. I asked mom recently about how she thinks she's going to handle the quickly-approaching life without children (referencing the fact that as of this fall, only 3 children will be left at home, and those will be quickly grown) and she just laughed, "I will never NOT have children."
I get the impression that the stage of crying babies, difficult shopping trips, and interrupted showers is one that passes remarkably quickly, in a way...

Lisa Jorgensen said...

I love this. My thoughts are so similar to this. Motherhood is a gift and it changes us for the better and I have never felt like a scullery maid.

The Golden Rule Kids said...

Agree! I do not miss my pre-kid life! I just feel like this has always been my purpose and for the most part love it!

Louise said...

Such a beautiful post. I don't think I exactly miss my pre-kid life - I wouldn't be without my children for the world - but I do sometimes long for a little more sleep! I think it did take me a while to accept losing myself and becoming 'Mummy' though.

Jenny Evans said...

I don't either, but I thought that was a memory issue more than anything.

Jenny Evans said...

I love the perspective you bring to me, Sam.

Jenny Evans said...

Thank you for putting that into words. I sympathize with it but have trouble articulating it.

Pam@mommacan.com said...

I completely agree, I am in the same boat only add 16 years to your 10 and make it a whopping 26 almost 27 years. I have a grade school student still, huge gap that God must have intended for some reason and then surprise a new baby with tons more experience which I found out I would need. Massive blessing and my oldest is getting married in two months.

Pam

Lux Ganzon said...

I like your graduation photo so much. It's so cute. And the caption too. Gooo dominate!

Jenny Evans said...

Oh, we plan to!

Jenny Evans said...

You are such a lucky lady. I don't know what God has planned for us, but I'd be thrilled if it was raising babies until grandbabies came along.

Jennifer Humphries said...

Well said! My husband and I always laugh and say we cannot even remember our few pre- kid years together. We know it happened, we just don't remember it. Just like you, my husband and I married early and started off our family as soon as we could and never looked back. Although some day I would like to go to the bathroom alone again.....

Maria from Collecting Moments said...

I absolutely agree! I admit some days are tough, and there are even days where I yearn for peace and quiet, but I wouldn't change a thing, and definitely don't miss my pre-kid days. I think you're right in saying that having a child makes a mother find herself. It's absolutely true in my part, and I'm glad you share your experience with that as well.

sharon rowe said...

This is so true! Thanks for sharing on Monday Madness link party! Hope to see you there next week :)

Anonymous said...

Having children allows a person to take the focus off of themselves and care about the world. A person having children changes them in ways that cannot be explained in words and in ways that childless people will never truly know.

PurpleSlob InRecovery said...

Now that you're pregnant with blessing number 6, world domination plan is set to employ in 8,7,6,5....