Recently I’ve been having the same conversation with a number of people in my life. People who have been on the fence about whether they should have kids or not. With everyone in my life, I like to be perfectly candid about what it means to be a parent. I don’t sugarcoat the bad stuff. When it comes down to it, deciding whether or not to be a parent is the biggest decision of your life. It is one decision that is irreversible and will stay with you until the end of your life. I always have and always will believe that having a kid is a choice, and it’s not for everybody. Anybody who says others otherwise be damned!
So, I’m gonna get really real about the cons of having a kid, and I’m gonna get really real about the pros of having a kid. Mind you, I have only one kid, and she’s in the toddler stage at the time of writing this post, so there are things to consider about older kids that I haven’t experienced yet. Before you read this, know that I’ve been going through postpartum depression, so my thoughts on the cons might be different than others. I feel that it is necessary to see things from this point of view though.
Goodbye Old Life
No matter what you think, you will not have the freedom that your past life afforded you. You can’t become a parent and have life stay as it was. Many parents have a period of mourning because they feel like their old-self has died. Yeah, no joke. Your new-self becomes a slave to schedule, and predictable unpredictability. You can’t do anything when you want because you are on your baby’s time. You don’t necessarily get to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom when you want.
The Rise of Fear
Being a parent means thinking of your kid. I mean like, ALL the time. You think about now, you think about years from now. Will they be happy, will they be successful, will they be depressed, will they become a drug addict? OH SHIT! WHAT IF THEY GET IN WITH THE WRONG CROWD AND BECOME A HORRIBLE CRIMINAL!? What if they hate you, or blame you for their flaws? That kind of stuff. No one thinks they’re raising their kid to be a monster, but there are still monstrous people in this world, and oh my god, what if your kid gets hurt by one of these monsters?! These kinds of things. If you have a daughter, will she be okay walking the street at night, if you have a son, will he be afraid to express his feelings? All the what ifs that clutter your brain… You become so fearful of what could be, or of anything that could ever happen to your precious kid.
So right off the bat, I wanna say that though postpartum depression is most common in the parent that birthed the child, it can also occur in their partner or even adoptive parents. PPD is no joke. 1 in 5 birthing parents get it, and it becomes 1 in 2 if they’ve had depression before. The depression can make it really hard to be the parent you were expecting yourself to be, not to mention feeling like everyone is watching and criticizing everything that you do. All this in addition to the fact that you’ve lost your old life adds up to a lot of misery. It is not unheard of for parents to commit suicide or harm their babies because of postpartum depression.
There is help out there, you just need to have the courage to seek it out. Some hospitals offer support to those less than twelve months postpartum, there are group therapy’s (you are not alone!), and anti-depressants. If you are or you think someone you know might have PPD please open a dialogue about it. Talk to your doctor about it. Things do get better.
Some people experience really traumatic births. Although this isn’t necessarily the norm, sometimes things go wrong. That happens, but it’s scary. When your life, the baby’s life or both are in danger it is overwhelming and terrifying. People who experience a traumatic birth are much more likely to get postpartum depression and can even experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Once again, if you or someone you know suspect there is PPD or PTSD please talk to someone, seek help.
Not everybody experiences this, but if you live in a new city, you don’t have a lot of friends, or all of your friends are childless, things can get pretty lonely. Everybody is working all the time, people have different schedules, and friendship kind of gets lost by the wayside. This is especially difficult for stay at home parents who don’t have any other adults to talk to in the day. You can begin to feel resentful because of this. Usually, the stay at home parent is envious of the working parent for getting time away from the kid, and the working parent is envious of the stay at home parent for getting to spend so much time with the kid.
Hello New Life
Although you might grieve your old life, there are so many new things on the horizon. You become a teacher. Every time your child learns something new it’s something you’ve taught them. You’re teaching someone to be a whole human being and that’s pretty amazing. Though it might put a strain on some relationships, you’ll find the ones that matter most are strengthened.
Inspired to be Better
Since having my kid, I know I’ve been inspired to better myself and try to make myself someone that my kid can be proud of. That isn’t necessarily by having an amazing career or anything, because sometimes food just needs to be put on the table, nothing you can do about that. It’s about becoming a role model, and working to better yourself so that your kid can see someone they want to be just like. You can be driven, have a healthy relationship with food, love yourself, love others, show compassion and empathy. My Cog inspired her dad and I to pursue our dream of making a comic, it’s in the works right now, and to be honest, I don’t know if we ever would have gotten the drive to start it if it wasn’t for her.
Rise of Hope
A child can really make you see the light in the world. You see things through new eyes. Everything is an exciting new adventure, anything is a game if you look at it a certain way. When they say hi to everyone, it reminds you that there can be good in the world. And when they hug you you feel like nothing could ever be wrong. You get to be a kid again.
Love Like You’ve Never Known
My sister the other day said she felt bad for people that might never know they could love this much. The love you feel for your child is stronger than any love you’ve ever felt. In addition to having a family love, there’s a need to protect them, that you will never let anyone hurt this tiny thing that has changed your world.
When you are a parent there are so many times that you just stare at your kid. Like, woah. I made that. Awesome! To you, your kid will always be the cutest thing in all of existence… until they are a little turd, and you get mad, but OH THEY FLASH YOU THAT SMILE! You just can’t stay mad at that sweet little thing you call your baby.
Cuddles That Make The World Feel Good
Sometimes you feel crummy, and then your kid comes up and gives you the best hug you’ve ever had in your life. Suddenly the world that’s been sitting on your shoulders becomes a lot lighter. The warmth in your heart becomes a lot warmer.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is if becoming a parent is a decision you are going to make, you have a lot to think about. You need to consider your lifestyle and the things you value in life. For me family has always been at the top of my priority list but it isn’t for everybody. Think about the things you might lose in your life and if you are okay putting those things on the back-burner. If you are okay with sacrificing those things, congratulations, you have come to a decision. If not, you might need to think about this a little more.
Do you have anything to add on the list of pros and cons? Let us know in the comments!