I’ used to think that everyone should have children. Naturally, it’s an expected part of life. You’re born, you go to school, graduate from college, get married, start a career, have kids, retire, and then die, right? Maybe I’m simplifying and stereotyping, but this does seem to be the path most folks choose for themselves. My belief that every woman should be a Mom was temporarily solidified once I had kids of my own. Who wouldn’t love to snuggle with a newborn babe or become overwhelmed with pride when her kid ties his shoes for the first time? But as I got older, my opinion changed on this issue and I truly think some women would justifiably choose not to be a Mom. Well if you are considering Motherhood, let me try to shed some light on whether it’s for you or not.
First you need to decipher how important your career outside of the home is to you. Yes, you can still have kids and a career, but it’s a balancing act I found to be impossible. So much did I dislike putting my kids in daycare while I went out to work, that my family made a radical move. We sold our house and relocated 400 miles away to another state with a much lower cost of living so I could afford to stay home with my children. Not everyone is flexible (or perhaps crazy) enough to make such a bold change. If you would love to continue working, consider doing so from home or outside of the home when your husband isn’t at work if possible.
Which brings us to the subject of money. Money is something you may not have as much of when you embark on the Motherhood journey. Staying at home and living on one income can force you to exist on a shoestring budget. Even if you do go out to work, you’ll probably spend a huge amount of money on childcare. Some lucky few have a family member who will watch their kids for free; but know that you’ll probably owe them a lot of favors in return. Make sure it’s someone you trust who is in good financial standing to not have to go out to work themselves or you may be left in a lurch. Just like when you make plans to purchase a house, save your pennies before trying to conceive your first child as well. Budget for all the expenses that come along with having kids, like clothing, shoes, food, and education.
If you’re a spontaneous world-traveler, you may want to sow your wild oats before having kids. It’s not impossible to travel when you have children, but it is not always fun either. I often laugh at my friends who decide to take their very young kids on a week-long trip to Disney World only because I’ve done it before myself. Nothing kills the magic like a whiny, overtired toddler who runs out of gas after one hour of touring the Epcot Center. My child was so deliriously exhausted after a mere three days at Disney that she had an out-of-body experience during which she kept telling me to shut up’. I couldn’t even get angry with her because I knew she was not being her usual sweet self. Shelf the high-activity vacation idea until your child is at the least potty trained and no longer takes daily naps or pick a relaxing place like the beach to visit.
If you have OCD, you may want to reconsider having children as they are incredibly messy creatures. You could always cover every surface of your house with those retro plastic slipcovers if your biological clock is really ticking. Kids spill a lot of stuff and are quick to use any upholstered surface in your house as a napkin. You also have to deal with a lot of bodily fluids so either buy stock in rubber gloves or get over yourself. As far as kids and cleanliness are concerned, you’re going to need to lower your standards. Significantly. And if you dislike clutter? Kids are famous for that too. Set some strict guidelines about having one room in your house designated specifically for toys and baby gear.
Sleep is a wonderful thing. I remember. Lately I’ve missed it more and more and pine for the days that I could sleep in on Saturday mornings and wake up to snuggle with my husband before a leisurely breakfast. There are seriously people who ‘need their sleep’. They get depressed and can’t function on a day-to-day basis without it. Luckily, I’m not one of those people. Kids are energy vampires. You are so busy with them throughout the day that when they’re finally asleep at night, you spend all of your time catching up on chores or indulging in some time to yourself. I’m cursed with feeling at my peak after dinnertime, having dragged myself through the morning and afternoon exhausted, and never want to go to bed. It’s usually already tomorrow before I turn in at night, starting the vicious cycle all over again. If you’re wondering if Motherhood is for you…sleep on it. Literally.
If you’re a big fan of free time, you may have to take a hiatus from it when your kids are young. I used to love to go out to the movies or hiking at the park and while I still get to do those things, it’s not very often. Thankfully, they don’t really make good movies anymore and my kids are getting old enough to hike with my husband and me. Get your fill of leisure activities before you become a Mom and know that you may have to put some of your favorite things on hold for a while after you do. The wonderful thing about having kids is helping them to discover all the activities you love and having them introduce you to ones you never thought you’d enjoy before becoming a Mom.
I think being a Mother is the most special, challenging, fulfilling, and frustrating job a woman can have. With good preparation and a lot of thought, you too can occupy the most important role on the planet.