I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be one of those people who never wanted to have kids. Not that I’d want to take back having my children because I love them and my life dearly. I just don’t think I fully appreciated all the time that you have when you’re single or in a relationship without children. How you can run out of the door to go somewhere at the drop of a hat, clean your house in an hour, and sit around all day long reading a book. When you have children, things just become more hectic. You’re not given as much time to yourself and it takes a billion times longer to accomplish anything. This is just a fact.
But to be someone who never wanted kids, that means that you’d be always in that state of having your time be your own. I don’t think that having children is a need you can suppress if you have it because it is such a deep and urgent need, but if you just didn’t have that need, you could live your life happily having your time continue to stay your own. There are definitely days when I wish that I could knit for five hours straight. There are days where I wish I could even get five minutes to myself to just breathe.
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that’s not what I want for myself. Having children has changed me for the better. If you’re one of those people who reads my blog because you knew me in high school, you may not realize how different of a person I am today. Even in the last three years I feel like I’m changed a lot. I don’t know if those around me see the change as drastically as I do, but for me it’s the difference between night and day.
Having children has given me my voice. Not only through this blog, but in person too. I have become a person who not only cares, but gets vocal about it. Throughout my teenage years I was always finding causes. It started with panda bears, went through a year of being vegan, and I know I spent a great deal of hours volunteering with Planned Parenthood. The difference between these causes and the ones I fight for now, like breastfeeding and co-sleeping and babywearing and gentle parenting, is that these causes I fight for now are a step above passionate. They touch me to my core. They are part of who I am and so I fight with all of my being for them. Because they are not just a cause, they are for my children. Having this intense of a passion gives me the voice I never had. No longer am I the girl hiding in the back of the room at a meeting, I am the one sitting up front and giving opinions and advice. I am the one who will accidentally talk your ear off because you told me that you wanted to breastfeeding, but couldn’t. I am the one who will do everything in my power to give you the knowledge I have so that you can make an informed decision.
Having children has given me patience. I have never been a patience person and I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those people who has endless patience, but I’m making headway. Whenever I was asked in a job interview or class what one of my weaknesses was, I would always say that I don’t work well in groups. I just don’t have the patience to let other people do their jobs and I don’t like delegating something I feel I can do better. With children, you have to let them do it. It actually helps Peanut if I let her help me. Yes, it takes 5x as long to fold the laundry or do the dishes, and often they’re not done up to my standards, but she’s learning. It’s important for her to be able to learn. It’s also important for me to be able to take that step back. Letting go of that control has helped me grow as a person.
Having children has helped me to prioritize. When you don’t have as many hours in the day, you have to choose what is really important to you. I remember being young and sitting around all day watching The Girls Next Door, even though it made me frustrated half the time and I was bored. When you have kids, you just eliminate the things that aren’t at the top of the list. Scary movies? I just don’t do them. It’s a waste of my time to be scared. Watching TV mindlessly? No thanks. I get so little TV time that I’d prefer to keep it to things I actually want to watch. I also don’t get every necessary task done immediately. It used to be that when I cleaned the house, I cleaned the house. Did everything I could find until I was too exhausted to even think of cleaning. Now I need to clean more and have less time to do it. Rather than making up for the extra mess by cleaning to exhaustion all the time, I have to prioritize. My cleaning chart helps me to realize that, yes the living room needs to be picked up, but it can wait until Saturday.
Having children has made me responsible. Growing up, I was never very good at attending school. I love to learn and I always did well, but actually getting up in the morning and going was always an issue. This translated to working and I was far from the most reliable of employee. I have multiple jobs in my history that I accepted a position and then something better came along a few days later, so I quit. Now that I have kids, I appreciate the things I need to do more. I go to my classes (which thank goodness are online at the moment, so I don’t have to worry about actually being on campus much) because I don’t want to waste my money. I make it to my appointments because I realize I don’t want to waste other people’s time. I feel that when I start working again that I’ll be more responsible there too.
Having children is helping me learn delayed gratification. According to Dave Ramsey, the difference between an adult and a child is delayed gratification. This is still one I’m definitely working on, but I’m miles ahead of where I was just five years ago. Some could say that this would have happened with age anyway, but I believe that having children has been essential to developing this. When I tell Peanut to be patient and I’ll put on her Dinosaur Train after I’m done changing Twig, it’s more than just talk. I need to model this behavior.
Having children has taught me to be selfless. There’s so much talk of mothers being too selfless, but there’s something to be said about selflessness. To care about someone else more than you care about yourself is life changing. To actually feel someone’s pain deep within your heart because they are so a part of you. To actually wish you could take the place of your puking child and puke for them. Yes, it can be difficult to find the balance between selfless and having self care, but there’s nothing bad about truly caring for others.
Having children has taught me to let go. It’s something I was never able to do before having children, so I see it as a gift. Let go of schedules. Let go of relationships that aren’t working. Let go of control. Let of myself. Just let go.
What has having children taught you?