In this society, there are things that we are allowed to say, and then there are things that we are forbidden from saying.
I am about to say one of those forbidden things, and I am going to defend my opinion and, hopefully, make you feel better about agreeing with me.
Here it is:
Having a baby ruined my life.
Now, if you are a mother, you are probably feeling a bit conflicted right now. On one hand, you know I am right. On the other hand, we aren’t allowed to say that.
We can only talk about how much better our lives are since our perfect little angels came into this world.
The truth is, of course I love my children. I love them so much that I don’t even hold it against them that they took away all my hobbies, my free time, my indulgences, and let’s not forget my sleep. I love them more than I loved being able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
Before my son came along, I used to live in a small loft apartment. Even as a college student, I had enough money to do what I wanted. I was perusing my dreams and I had plans to become a writer, move to NYC and live the fast-paced party life that I had always seen on TV.
When I found out that I was pregnant, I had to move into an apartment that cost 4 times as much money per month. I finished out by semester at college, earning an Associate’s degree. I eventually gave up my budding career as a journalist for a more lucrative career in Marketing, and ultimately went back to my roots as an IT support person.
Fast forward 10 years.
am living in a nice house, reasonable monthly payments. My hobbies include Obstacle Course Racing, rock climbing, cross-fit, running, and martial arts. My husband and I spend our nights and weekends doing what we want. We attend so many concerts over the spring, summer, and fall that we have a favorite lot to park in at every local venue.
That is when we find out that we are having a baby.
We break our lease, losing 3 months of rent payments, and move into a new, more expensive, house with an additional bedroom. OCR, cross-fit, martial arts, rock climbing, running, and concerts are all a thing of the past.
My husband and I, now in our late 30s, spend our nights and weekends chasing a tiny tornado around our new home. Bed time has gone from 10PM, 11PM, 12AM, to 8PM. Sometimes, when we are feeling wild, we push it to 9PM. That is not to say that we get any sleep, of course. See, we have one of those babies who despises sleep and fights it with every fiber of her tiny, beautiful, little being.
Trips to the nail salon for mani/pedis are reserved for birthdays or other special occasions. My clothes are generally covered in crusted baby food. My hair is greasy and unruly. My skin is blotchy and unloved. My toned muscles are neglected and saggy.
You see, the life that I had before my kids came along was completely and utterly destroyed by their arrival. It is OK to acknowledge that. It is even OK to miss that life sometimes.
We make so many sacrifices for our children, and society puts so much pressure on us to ignore the fact that we basically give up who we are and what we love to take care of these tiny, helpless, little strangers.
Perhaps, if we stopped pretending that giving birth is some magical exercise that wipes away any negative thoughts or emotions, we can start being honest about the real life struggles that both new and renewed parents face. Maybe, just maybe, we can chip away at the stigma associated with post-partum depression. Possibly, we can even shed light on the emotional hardships that fathers deal with post baby.
We can’t face reality while being afraid of the truth.