There is a distinct difference between the way people are before they start a family and afterwards. Before kids arrive on the scene you hear of people say how they’ve transformed their life and things will never be the same and you nod and smile as if completely understanding what they mean but actually have no clue at all.
How can a little human bundle be so all encompassing? How can it change what was once a fun loving, sometimes a bit reckless, always up for a laugh / night out / party / gossip (delete as appropriate) into a walking zombie who has no other conversation apart from nappies, sleep or lack of, growth spurts or whether their child can smile, sit, stand, walk etc?
How too can someone so small have and need so much paraphernalia? Everything from a baby gro to a Babystyle Oyster is required by these little human beings. However, it isn’t just about clothing and buggies, babies need lots of attention, love and nurturing.
Try as you might you cannot help but become completely absorbed by a child. All the things you said you would never do just happen like not caring about your appearance, talking in a baby voice, hosting a 1st birthday party, photographing and filming everything like a Japanese tourist in a capital city.
Resistance is futile
The more you try to resist the harder it becomes – like trying not to chew a Fruit Pastille or trying to find clothes in the sale when you’ve already seen something perfect in the full price section. Becoming a parent gives you a green light to become all the things you previously hated! Also being THAT parent on an aeroplane or in a supermarket queue are just rites of passage you have to go through. Whilst the non parents look on and tut and parents look but try not to look because they know they’ve been that soldier with a screaming child before.
Aside from the lack of sleep and public humiliation there is a unique joy to being a parent. Watching a child grow day by day and seeing them take everything in like a sponge is fantastic. Watching learn a new skill, something which we just take for granted and yet in the early stages they are so amazed by and giggle to themselves not quite believing what they’ve just done.
Past, present, future
It is the oddest thing to sit and wonder about their future – to feel fear for them about what is to come before they have even taken their first steps. It is also strange to think about what they have missed – how they will never be taught using a blackboard and chalk at school, they will never know a world without computers or mobile phones. They will take apps and downloading and the internet for granted and yet it is today’s elderly generation who are completely bamboozled by the technology driven, world shrinking age we are now in. One could question whether their lives will be as rich for not growing up the way we did or if they will grow up too fast, although the latter is almost a guarantee.
Babies are not babies for long and this is what makes them so precious but at the same time they will always be your baby even as an adult.
The love for a child is instinctive and that is why non parents can only nod and smile as if they understand. Parenting isn’t for everyone though and some live vicariously through nephews or nieces watching their siblings transform into responsible beings.
The passing of time
Time just goes so fast as parent. When they are first born and home from hospital it takes all day sometimes just to get dressed. So much happens with a stream of visitors and health professionals checking in and yet at the same time so little happens as the baby just wants feed after feed after feed. As they grow so fast parents should capture the changes thinking one day that their child is the most beautiful and then looking back at pictures and seeing how much they have grown over such a short space of time. Every second counts.
This article is written by Imogen Reed, a freelance writer and a researcher for five years. This is a guest post.