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 Post subject: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:28 am 
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So, the idea of people (especially women) changing dramatically upon becoming parents came up in the women who choose not to have children thread, with some people citing their fear of that change (being subsumed by motherhood, etc) as a key reason why they're not sure about reproducing or not. I thought that was really interesting-- I don't know that I'd put much thought into how my personality might change upon becoming a parent before I decided to do it-- and wondered if other people were interested in talking about this.

So: did you change much as a person upon having kids? Did your personality change? Did your social life change? Did your priorities change? Did your pastimes and interests change? Etc etc. (And, for statistical curiosity: how old is your kid/are your kids now?)

I'll post a little about my experience in a minute!

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:57 am 
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Probably everyone who knows me knows that I have two kids, the Emperor (3.5) and the Magician (1). I would say that the extent of post-child-acquisition changes I went through with them was vastly different.

With E, I had really not been doing much before he was born. I was just exiting two years in a grad program that turned my life upside down. Here is a non-exhaustive list of things I stopped doing while I was in graduate school the first time, because I didn't have the time/energy/money/friends to do it with/etc: reading for fun, exercising regularly, eating well, going to concerts, socializing pretty much at all, drawing, writing, listening to new music. I had moved across the country and knew literally 1 person in the town I live in (other than my spouse) for the longest time. (Eventually it jumped to 2, and then 3 and 4-- ameyfm and another former PPKer!)

In hindsight, it's not really at all surprising that when I had E, parenting became the absolute focus of my life. There was really nothing else going on, and E (while a sweet and wonderful person at 3.5) was the kind of baby who could uh, really take care of any free time or energy a person might have.

I remember sitting at Christmas when he was 3 months old, holding him and listening to other people have conversations around me and thinking, "so this is it, the rest of my life... I'm going to be outside every single activity other than taking care of children. I'm never going to have a way to interface with other people again." It was awful. It really did take a lot of time (most of the first year probably) to learn how to talk to people about things other than children again. That in and of itself was kind of an enlightening experience. Suddenly I understood why so many new parents can't talk about anything other than their kids: they literally, physically cannot think about anything other than their kids and/or there is nothing else going on in their lives. I wanted desperately to be able to talk about ANYTHING BUT MY KID for the longest time but I couldn't even make conversation about like, television, because god knows I didn't have time to watch television.

It's hard to say how having E changed my social life. I lost a lot of friends when I moved across country to grad school anyway-- not purposefully, but more because we were all pretty busy with our lives and it's hard to keep in touch from across the country if none of you are sitting at computers all day. Having E didn't help with those people though-- not only did we have the awkwardness of being so far apart, now we had the additional awkwardness of me being in a pretty different life state than they (largely single 20somethings moving to NYC!) were going through.

Almost 4 years later, I still haven't really made real life "mom friends". I have one good friend who I met at PPD support group, and that's it. (And a friend I already had who has since had a baby, and a friend I had who had a baby before me.) It turns out that if you're not interested in talking about nothing but children all the time, it can be very hard to make friends with other parents! I have to assume this is going to get easier as my kids get older. Or as maybe some people I know have kids. (Almost no one I know is planning on having kids though.)

One thing that really changed for me were my priorities. They were changing before E was born, and they jumped forward more once he was here. I work in a high pressure field where it's not uncommon for people to work 60 hour work weeks during crunch time. I had started to feel like maybe that was not something I wanted to be involved in before I had kids. After E was born, I thought about that-- about being away from him for 60 hours a week-- and it just tore me apart. 40 is bad enough. You know what? 40 is bad enough even if you don't have kids. People have to have time to do other things sometimes! That seems so clear to me now.

As a result of that, I started looking to see what I could do with my life other than what I got my degree in. (Eventually, I came back around to the same damn thing and I still haven't resolved how I'm going to deal with the time expectations, except try to get into a company where this is not the norm.) That led to landing a non-parenting job...

And just after I found out I had secured the job, I found out I was pregnant again. Mother forker. Literally. I laid on the floor and cried about it for like two weeks straight, then decided I wanted to continue the pregnancy and the job. I worked throughout that whole pregnancy and while I absolutely hated the job, working out of the home was a revelation. Suddenly I had things to talk about other than my kid! (Like how much I hated my job!) I also think it went a long way to my partner and I figuring out a better parenting balance, because I left so early in the morning that he HAD to be responsible for getting E up and through his morning routine. I started doing things I liked doing again by cleverly finding little slices of time to jam them into my schedule... I started biking to/from work (excuse to exercise! yay!), started knitting during my lunch hour, started food blogging and PPKing again with a vengeance.

When M was born, I ditched the job (because my priorities shifted again and made me realize that a 40 hour a week job ain't worth it if it makes me hate humanity that greatly) and charted yet another career course. I took a class at a local community college that started when he was 4 weeks old, and that led me to returning to grad school the following semester.

With him, I made a serious concerted effort to commit to some things that weren't parenting (like the class I mentioned). I was terrified of going back to being just-a-parent. Being a parent is great, but I'm a multi-faceted person and I wanted to maintain that. And the amazing thing is: it worked. I've continued doing things with friends whenever I can. I keep going to the farmer's market weekly even though it means hauling two little bodies with me instead of one. I'm still knitting, and cooking, and getting out for exercise, and demanding that I have some time and space for things that aren't just parenting.

So there are my experiences. I had one kid that totally changed everything about my life and made me feel like I was "just a mom" and one kid who didn't really change many of the details of my life.

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:01 am 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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Such a good idea for a thread! I really enjoyed reading your journey!

My story is similar.. I was really in the midst of some tremendous changes when I became a parent. I had moved to Canada in the fall of what should have been my second year at a university near Chicago. I realized going to a ridiculously expensive private liberal arts school was a terrible idea, so I dropped out, moved in with my partner in BC (we had dated, kept in contact for a few years after, and then re-united), and planned to go to UBC.

However, I got pregnant almost immediately, which put my education on the back-burner. Even though I was only 19 and had previously planned never to have children, I decided to keep the baby. My plans of university, traveling, enjoying life with my partner - all horribly muddled up. While I was happy to have a sweet little boy and was absolutely delighted living in the city, I didn't know anyone there other than my partner. My support system... was him. (My family and I are not close, nor do we live in the same country.) I had PPD pretty bad, not helped by the fact that he was a fairly difficult baby.

At that time, I really struggled a lot with regret for having let this happen at such an inappropriate time in my life. I needed to grieve for the person I could no longer be - I couldn't be a full-time student, working away to achieve all my hopes and dreams, unhindered by the total and complete responsibility for a child. I couldn't even go out for a coffee and some time to myself without planning it in advance and arranging to have milk ready for the little one (who, by the way, abhorred bottles). Fortunately, at the same time, I became more responsible, matured more quickly than I ever could have imagined, and fell in love with my son - which, unlike media led me to believe, actually took a while and didn't happen at the moment he was born.

The birth itself went smoothly, for a birth, but I was traumatized by the pain. (I tore enough to need a few stitches, but at the moment I tore, I thought my body was being ripped in half.) For the next few years, I refused to consider having any more children. But time passed, and I came to be at peace with birth, being a mother, and focusing on having a family.

I surprised and delighted my partner when I told him I was ready to try for a second child. I was pregnant within a couple of months, and now we've got two wonderful boys. Both my partner and I have decided to work less in favour of spending time together, rather than accumulating money and things and worldly success.

Pre-child me was searching for happiness, filled with wanderlust and hope for an adventurous future. Now that I'm a parent, I have discovered that happiness is here, any time I'm ready to allow it. My adventure is my family, and I am content (usually!) to enjoy life more slowly, less extravagantly, and I'm more apt to stay home and savour the short-lived beauty of childhood while I can. I cherish watching my boys grow up - I love them as little tiny cuties, but I'm genuinely excited to see who they become. So I guess I didn't expect to change much, but I really did. I changed so much, and only for the better.

ETA: Like C&S, my life changed most after having my first kid. After the second one, everything was already different and attuned to having a child tagging along. Another child didn't make as dramatic a change.

(Also, I cry at everything now. Ever since I first became pregnant. Commercial with a sad child? Tears. Movie or news story about a death of a child? I have to turn it off or I will weep. Hormones!)

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:13 am 
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I was 22 when Mr Crabby and I got married and didn't want to have kids until I was in my 30s, so when I did turn 30, I felt like I was ready to move on. I had already quit my job as a hipster barista in PDX (because we moved to Scotland) and we didn't go to as many gigs and I wasn't hitting the pub every week like I had in PDX (Kelly's Olympian on Thursday night was our thing for a few years). Our social lives were also seemed less important and we didn't hang out with other people all the time like we used to.

So then I was 31 and pregnant and the ceiling collapsed in our flat in Glasgow and the letting agency didn't fix it after 4 months and our lease had run out, so we started looking for another place to live...except everywhere in Glasgow in our budget and the areas we wanted to live was furnished and we didn't want that (because it's never just furnished, all the places seemed packed to the gills with furniture and nobody would take the bed out of the second bedroom or ditch a couch), so we started looking further afield and found this place way out in the middle of nowhere. It's huge and the view is gorgeous. And it only costs as much as the wee flats we were viewing in Glasgow because nobody wants to live in the middle of nowhere, except us apparently (none of the other tenants in this house have lasted more than a year and about a third of the time we've lived here, the other 2 flats were empty).

So, moving to the country was nearly as big of a change for me as having Beetroot. I feel like because I waited so long to have kids, I was pretty ready and my life didn't seem to change as much suddenly because it had been evolving to that point slowly over the past few years. There were a few glitches I had to get over (like my fear of being berated for breastfeeding in public -- that never happened, although I did get a few surprised looks nursing a toddler in public), but I feel like I had an easy time getting into the swing of having a kid.

But then when I was pregnant with Raygold, the shiitake seemed to hit the fan. That was when everybody (my parents, my in-laws, and our local health centre, after my MIL phoned them to tip them off that we were harbouring a wonky-legged boy and not telling them) flipped their shiitake over Beetroot's then-wonky legs (which, as I'd always insisted, turned out to be no big deal, something he grew out of, and not because we were vegan -- but it took about 2 years before the matter was 100% dropped). My grandmother died. My sister and I had a huge falling out (due to something horrifyingly creepy I found out about my mom after my grandmother died), my sister got a divorce and I got dragged into the drama for not cutting ties with her ex-husband (I only met him once after they got married, but we were pretty good internet buddies and used to send each other funny custom demotivational posters; anyway, 9 months later he died, so more drama there). I cut ties with my parents (they started phoning us in the middle of the night -- like 4am -- just a day or two after I had Raygold to yell at us for a bunch of random shiitake and to threaten us over random shiitake ("you mentioned us in your myspace blog, we are going to sue you for libel now,") and finally, we told them to stop calling us). We were in the middle of a vegen witch hunt with our local health centre. Etc.

It was a rough time for me and I felt like there was so much negativity going on. I made a huge effort to get rid of all the drama and negativity and negative people in my life (not just our families, but the people I was in touch with who were the sort who are negative and kind of bring people down but I'd felt guilty about the idea of not hanging out with them anymore, etc.) AND I made the effort to become a more positive person myself (not that I was a negative person before, but there was still room for improvement).

And then, since I had 2 kids, I couldn't follow the same lax schedule I did when there was just Beetroot. I felt like I needed more time to myself. I did parenting stuff (like putting the kids to bed at a specific time every night) that I thought I'd never do (I was kind of laid back and not really the scheduling sort) and that made me realise I should be less judgmental of other parenting choices. I discovered minimalism and while I'm by no means a minimalist, it helped me get rid of a lot of my junk and I'm not attached to 'stuff' anymore. I'm also more organised, somehow I went from being a slob into someone who really likes cleaning and having a tidy house (or as tidy as I can have with two wild kids). I started homeschooling, too. And exercising (something I always wanted to get into the habit of doing, but really didn't enjoy...until I realised there were more exercise options than lifting weights, exercycling, and jogging).

Anyway, boring story even more boring, after having 2 kids, there have been 2 big changes -- I feel like I am a LOT less judgmental of other people's parenting choices and I have become a more positive person in general. (I feel much happier and more emotionally healthy after cutting the negative people and the negativity out of my life. Life without drama! Amazing!) And 2 smaller (but still important to me) changes -- being more organised (with stuff and with my time -- I get so much more done!) and exercising regularly.

bodhi wrote:
(Also, I cry at everything now. Ever since I first became pregnant. Commercial with a sad child? Tears. Movie or news story about a death of a child? I have to turn it off or I will weep. Hormones!)

Oh, god, me, too!!! Not just about child-related stuff, although that is the worst.

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Last edited by TheCrabbyCrafter on Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:21 am 
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i am glad you posted this. i was going to last night, because the other thread was so interesting and i didn't feel right posting anything there.

i am not sure i have changed. i don't mean to sound all zen-y but i have really just become more me, and at the same time less me- i become my mother, the women in my family, my father, and my own kid. i can see myself putting my own self into the child sometimes, for better or for worse.
if there is one way i can say i've changed is that i've been able to empathize with many more people than i was able to before. i can really feel for the woman with PPD, for the anti-vax activist, for the teenage mom who abandons her baby, for the guy who accidentally locks his baby in the car- as well as the proud and happy parents (and non-parents) that children make happy.

i suppose i probably could also say i have become significantly stronger since being a parent. Spiritually stronger, because i need to stand up for what i believe in [to teach my kid to stand up for what she believes in]. Mentally stronger, as some years ago i didn't think i could survive the loss of the life we had dreamed about having with our twin girls. Time did that more than anything I did, i think, although i still am a ball of tears often (and nary a hormone in the house).

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:42 am 
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I really want to say that this thread should be open to everyone, even though the title addresses parents. I'd be interested in hearing other people's thoughts on how parents they know have changed as well and what childfree people are concerned about changing/losing.

I don't think having Leela changed me. It taught me things, the most important of which is that you cannot make anyone do anything. Even if that person weighs 7lbs. And yes, yes, yes about learning that you have absolutely no idea what another person is dealing with, so to try and approach with kindness and empathy instead of judgment. It also taught me that I am kinder and more patient than I ever knew and I can extend that to others around me. I also really see how my energy affects those around me and that I can shift things by shifting perspective. Leela and I have been at loggerheads with her screaming and me feeling like I am overwhelmed and angry and then in a second I remember who she is and why I love her, and in that moment I soften and she stops.

My pregnancy taught me that you can research everything until your brain is about to explode, but you can't anticipate everything - it is better to find sources you trust, gather information and then trust your instincts. From that, I am much clearer in establishing boundaries and communication.

I do think that veganism changed me, and perhaps many of those changes are ones I would have had on becoming a parent if I weren't vegan, if that makes sense. I went vegan in my early 30s and since then I am so much more mindful in world and aware to things that are in our food, environment etc. I notice that among the new mothers I interact with that is a big discovery - that there are lots of foods and drugs have negative effect on your kid that you try and learn about them and make good choices for your kids. Veganism changed my approach to the world, and made me a lot more reflective and also at peace in the face of conflict. Veganism gave me a voice. But that is another thread. :)

I also lost things and am dealing with a loss of my IRL childfree vegan community. I used to do so much with other people who didn't have kids and it can feel really isolating to be a stay at home parent. And I do have less time, money and attention for things besides Leela, so I completely hear the childfree folks on that.

I'm definitely shifting, but I don't think the essential me: the things I care about, the ways I react and feel etc have changed.

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:16 am 
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Im really enjoying reading this thread and everyone’s experiences because im finding it really empowering. My kid is still in utero so I cant really add to the “how I changed” theme but im struggling so hard with basically feeling like my identity has been stolen. Ever since I told people I was pregnant somehow I became “baby holding vessel” and there is no longer me. I feel like there is this expectation that every woman feel exactly the same when she is pregnant. I haven’t changed since becoming pregnant other than being even more grumpy than normal cause I haven’t really felt good for the past 6 months (though way better now than before!) so the fact that people treat me so differently is kind of weird to me and honestly it grates on my nerves. Some people love being pregnant. I don’t and I don’t feel that im a bad person/bad parent because of it. I cant wait to not be pregnant anymore. I absolutely hate it. but im gonna get a baby out of the deal and while im not skipping around with glee and shooting rainbows out of my asparagus excited like people seem to expect me to be I am excited in my own way (though mostly terrified lol).
I feel like because ive always been “different” and I have a very strong personality that doesn’t necessarily fit in with what is defined as “normal” and that people are trying extra hard to shove me into the “normal” box and im fighting against it tooth and nail.
I like reading everyone’s experiences here because I feel like PPK is one of the few places where I can relate to other human beings.
I have no idea how this kid will change my life but I am very aware of the fact that my life is gonna change BIG TIME and im scared of that (I REALLY don’t do well with change) but I think just being aware of that is a good start. I have zero expectations for what will happen after birth and I actually think for me that’s a good place to be. One of my coworkers had a baby last April and she had everything planned down to the last second about what was going to happen, when it was going to happen, and how it was going to happen and I was like “yeah good luck with that.” I think that’s setting yourself up for disappointment!


coldandsleepy wrote:

When M was born, I ditched the job (because my priorities shifted again and made me realize that a 40 hour a week job ain't worth it if it makes me hate humanity that greatly)

.


THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Im quitting my job when this baby comes cause I despise my job and ive despised every job ive ever had and it just makes me a miserable person. So im really nervous/scared about this BIG GIANT CHANGE coming in my life. And obviously im worried about adding a person to our family and losing a paycheck!
Anyways I really appreciate everyone sharing their stories because it makes me feel better that I CAN do this and other people have struggled with similar things and not everything about having kids is shiny and gold and rainbows and glee and it’s OKAY to have feeling of doubt and concern.

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:23 am 
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I don't think I changed much, but I've always had a mother type of personality. In any group of friends I've always settled into the role of nurturer/moral authority/cookie baker; it's just who I am. I've also always liked kids. I became an elementary school teacher--I'm in my element in a room full of 5-year-olds. In high school I used to say I wanted a big family, 5 or 6 kids, but then I started teaching and I thought maybe I'd only have one or two kids, and get my fix of kid-chaos at work.

When I decided to stay hone with my kid I felt a little bit of withdrawal, because I loved my job and the pace of newborn life is very different than working life. But I realized I have the whole rest of my life to work--probably 30 years after my kid(s) are in school full-time. I'm fortunately in a field where time off for raising kids isn't frowned upon (it's almost the norm). Sure, I'll have to start in a lower-paying position than if I'd never left, but I have so much time ahead of me to learn and grow professionally. I'm just not worried about it. (I realize what a luxury it is to not worry about my earnings. That was part our deal--I worked while my husband was in law school with the understanding that I'd get to stay home full-time later on.) And you know, I am so much happier staying home with Walter than I ever was at a job. I feel good at this. It's fun. It's satisfying. I am happier.

As others have said, I am much less judgmental of other parents. At the same time, having my own child has made me angrier at my own parents for choices I now realize were so lazy and harmful. Anger doesn't do me any good, so hopefully I'll get past it.

I go out much less often, but honestly, I was bored with nightlife by the time we had a baby. I packed a lot of traveling and experience into my 20s, and I'm so glad for that, because I don't feel like I'm missing out now. Besides, it won't be long until my kids are old enough to travel, and not long after that they'll be out of the house and I can resume my life of debauchery (drinking wine at 2pm! Watching tv during daylight hours!). Parenting suits me well, because I'd much rather stay in and play checkers with little kids than go out with grown-ups. My point being, I was lame and boring before I became a parent. No change there.

I hope I've explained myself, this is rambling!

Oh, I left out: my kid is currently 2 (plus a few months). Every day he gets awesomer.


Last edited by mittenmacher on Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:30 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:27 am 
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Ohh, I love this idea! I am really enjoying reading what you are all sharing... I'll come back and contribute when I can type on an actual keyboard.

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:54 am 
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BTW, I realise I wasn't very clear in my original post, but moving towards simple living, becoming organised, and even exercising all came about because I had kids (our place had kids stuff strewn all over it and I was given some kids stuff I didn't need; I started exercising to lose the baby weight that just wouldn't shift, etc.).

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:36 am 
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Tofulish wrote:
I really want to say that this thread should be open to everyone, even though the title addresses parents. I'd be interested in hearing other people's thoughts on how parents they know have changed as well and what childfree people are concerned about changing/losing.



Ooh, another interesting thread and a good complement to the other one! I'm thinking about this stuff a lot lately but don't really have anyone to talk to about it. I'm currently childfree, 35 years old, in a committed relationship. I posted more about where I'm at now in the other thread already so I won't recap it all here. I think fear of changing as a person or losing something is definitely part of what makes me think I don't want kids. (I fear change in general, so there's that too). But there is also some doubt there- I'm a strong no but not a definite no and this feeling like I have very limited time to make this huge life decision really is worrying me. I feel like my life is full and complete right now, and that I already don't have enough time to do all the things I want to do, and it's hard to imagine adding being entirely responsible for a small human being in addition to everything else. Particularly in the absence of a definite positive desire to have children. But I also fear that if I don't I'll be missing out on something, a life experience that most people seem to think is pretty damn amazing and worth the trouble.

I think the thing that I fear most is not having enough or even any time alone. I am a pretty hardcore introvert and NEED quiet time or I just get really unhappy. Even if I have a week that is scheduled too tightly with things that I LIKE doing I get unhappy, let alone things that I don't necessarily find enjoyable. It took me a long time to figure that out about myself and accept that I'm just not a very social person and I shouldn't pressure myself to keep up a lot of friendships and activities that I don't truly enjoy. The idea of having a little person constantly needing something from me, or having to push myself to be more social for their benefit is so oppressive and I feel like I wouldn't react well to it and therefore would not be a good parent. I read things on here, and hear coworkers with children talk about having to negotiate with their husband to get ten minutes to take a shower alone and the idea of living like that FREAKS ME OUT. Years ago my sister told me that she didn't see me ever having kids because I like to be alone so much. At first I was pretty offended but then I realized she was totally right. I'd be interested to hear from people who like their quiet time and have kid(s) and how they cope...

I had another coworker who had two kids and she joined a book group, expecting to talk about books, but all the other women in the group just wanted to talk about their kids. I think I hate that idea too, that your life just becomes all about your children and nothing else. I understand why people get that way since obviously their children are uber important in their lives, but from the outside as a person who isn't particularly interested in children it just is worrying. The idea of all the things that are so important to my life and identity now just sort of fading away or getting back-burnered out of necessity makes me sad. I feel like there's still this idea of motherhood as being so integral to a woman's identity or even subsuming it (the "baby holding vessel" LisaPunk mentioned), in a way that doesn't exist for men who are fathers...I think if I was a man in this equation the whole idea wouldn't terrify me so much. I feel like women are expected to have this biological craving to have a child ("biological clock"), which I don't have at all. I have a lot of ambivalence and doubts and even if I did have a kid I don't think I'd be all gushy with joy and rainbows like everyone seems to expect...I feel like there are just so many societal expectations around this whole issue, so I really appreciate the honest discussion that is happening here!


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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:03 am 
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I really hear you on the "missing out" thing and to be honest, I find the myth that having a child is "The Greatest Joy You Will Ever Experience Ever." is troubling. I think most of us agree that it is one of a great many wonderful experiences you can have. And the idea that it must be "The Greatest Joy" is really oppressive for anyone who speaks up to say its hard, or to ask for any of the social changes or support, which j-dub points out really eloquently in the other thread. If you criticize the system, you are often made to feel like you must not love your child enough which makes you a bad person. And it is used to punish women who choose not to have kids, and that sucks. But that is a whole other thread :)

The time for yourself thing is a big loss to me. Before I got my dog, I used to be at the gym every day for at least 2 hours, and I was in amazing shape. And then I rescued the dog, who needs some attention and at least an extra hour of walking, so my gym time started to disappear. I think I tend to put everyone else above my need for alone time, though so other people might deal with it better.

As far as the kid, I had already give up the gym time (which was really wonderful), which was my hardcore alone time. For many other things, she and I can co-exist - so she runs around and does stuff and I post on the PPK on my phone. I genuinely like hanging with her at the moment because she is a very mellow kid (and I get worried that that might change). When she gets really tired she gets really demanding of my attention, but its a sign she is exhausted and then she naps, so its not too bad. I love my alone time. Every Sunday I get to hang out in bed alone and read and it is a really awesome experience. But its not the same as childfree, dogfree, single time. I do also regret the loss of couple time, but that is partly because of how we have chosen to parent.

I think that with a great partner you could negotiate the time issues, but the status quo sadly is that women take a big part of the childrearing and give up a ton of their time and there probably is no way to keep the same amount of alone time. The silver lining is that maybe you appreciate it more? I'm still struggling with this, so hopefully someone else will have better advice. Also L is young and maybe it gets better.

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Last edited by Tofulish on Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:09 am 
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That's cool, Pixel. Just remember (especially when under pressure from others) there is no rule that says you have to have or want kids. :D

I have a lot of childless female friends in the same situation as you. And I really did not want kids for a long time. I didn't have any motherly urges until I was about 28, so I totally understand what it's like to just not want to have kids. And I understand the pressure some people can put on you (I'm talking to you, MIL) to have kids when you're not ready or don't want any.

pixel wrote:
I'd be interested to hear from people who like their quiet time and have kid(s) and how they cope...

It took a while to get to this point because #2 was such a poor sleeper for so long, but I put the kids to bed between 7 and 8pm, so I have the rest of the evenings to myself. (...Unless I fall asleep getting the kids to sleep, which happens more often now that I'm pregnant.) I have a friend with 5 kids and a bun in the oven and I got that idea from her. Her older kids don't have to go to bed at 8, but they do know that it's quiet time. My SIL does the same thing (at 7pm) and lets her older son stay up longer, as long as he stays in his room (reading, usually).

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:20 am 
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pixel wrote:
I think the thing that I fear most is not having enough or even any time alone. I am a pretty hardcore introvert and NEED quiet time or I just get really unhappy. Even if I have a week that is scheduled too tightly with things that I LIKE doing I get unhappy, let alone things that I don't necessarily find enjoyable. It took me a long time to figure that out about myself and accept that I'm just not a very social person and I shouldn't pressure myself to keep up a lot of friendships and activities that I don't truly enjoy. The idea of having a little person constantly needing something from me, or having to push myself to be more social for their benefit is so oppressive and I feel like I wouldn't react well to it and therefore would not be a good parent.


I will say that one of the absolutely most challenging things about having a kid for me is that I am also a hardcore introvert. This is doubly challenging because like you said, kids don't necessarily give you a lot of space to recharge, and also, my older son is a hardcore extrovert. He is and always has been miserable if he has to stay in the house all day with just me. He cries if we go to the park and there aren't any "friends" (read: any other human, whether he has met them before or not) for him to play with. And so on.

I can't change his personality and I wouldn't want to. There are a lot of times in my life where I felt like, things would be easier for me if I was an extrovert. It is a HUGE balancing act to try to honor his personality while still working within the confines of my own. (Sorry if that sounds kinda froofy, I can't think of how else to say it.) It took time to master. But I think we have it down now, in part because he's at the age where he can play with other kids at the park or wherever and I don't need to ever talk to their parents (which is a torture ritual that parents of young children must constantly undergo for the first year).

As for recharging, it took time for that to fall back into place too. He needed to get older. The first year, there was just no time or space. (And I am *sure* that contributed to my PPD.) Once he started falling asleep at a particular time at night, then I could guarantee some time to myself. Like I said before, I think working outside of the house was a big catalyst for my family-- for the first time, my partner really came to realize what it meant to be the only parent in charge of the kid, and came to realize just how much work I was doing all.the.goddamn.time. I think we both started working harder then to make sure the other person got to do things by themselves sometimes, got to sleep in sometimes, etc, etc.

So yeah. I think there are definitely introvert-specific challenges!

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:24 am 
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Tofulish wrote:
I really want to say that this thread should be open to everyone, even though the title addresses parents. I'd be interested in hearing other people's thoughts on how parents they know have changed as well and what childfree people are concerned about changing/losing.


I think that that could go down a ugly, judgmental route so we should stick to the original topic. If anyone wants to start a thread about how they see other people changing as parents that can be it's own thread (or not.).

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:33 am 
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But I think it's probably ok for people to talk about how they're afraid they might change as a parent/what they think might be challenging? Because that is a really interesting topic to discuss and I think a lot of us in here have stuff to say about it.

I don't want to hear about how your best friend's cousin's sister had a baby and totally turned into a momzilla who does nothing but post on pinterest all day because probably you would be missing some of the nuances of that situation.

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:39 am 
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Good thread idea. Perhaps it wasn't clear in the other thread, but I absolutely respect and adore all of you, and think y'all are amazing parents.

I feel like pixel pretty much summarized everything I feel (which she did in the other thread, too!). I'm a huge introvert, I have an anxiety disorder, and I am very protective of my "sense of self"/that sort of inner calm space we all have inside us (because I didn't have that for most of my life...I was an abused child. But I won't psychoanalyze myself here too much!) I just don't think I have it in me to provide what is needed for a child to bloom. Perhaps because I was never given that...I dunno. Anyway, it's not even completely off the table for us, but at this point I can't imagine children for us. My husband is SO great with kids, but he is also a really introverted person, he's also an artist and spends a lot of time outside of his day job making art and music. There'd have to be a huge shift for us to accommodate a little one.

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:48 am 
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Kelly wrote:
Tofulish wrote:
I really want to say that this thread should be open to everyone, even though the title addresses parents. I'd be interested in hearing other people's thoughts on how parents they know have changed as well and what childfree people are concerned about changing/losing.


I think that that could go down a ugly, judgmental route so we should stick to the original topic. If anyone wants to start a thread about how they see other people changing as parents that can be it's own thread (or not.).


Of course, that's already a thread. That thread already went down an ugly, judgmental route; I think there's very little risk of the same happening here no matter who posts. When I get up the time to post in response to the OP, I'll have things to say about how I feared I'd change before having a child and how those fears has been realized or not.


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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:49 am 
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coldandsleepy wrote:
I don't want to hear about how your best friend's cousin's sister had a baby and totally turned into a momzilla who does nothing but post on pinterest all day because probably you would be missing some of the nuances of that situation.


Hahahahaha. Like, HOW DOES SHE GET THE KID TO NAP SO SHE CAN GO ON THE INTERNET??!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:54 am 
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TheCrabbyCrafter wrote:
That's cool, Pixel. Just remember (especially when under pressure from others) there is no rule that says you have to have or want kids. :D

I have a lot of childless female friends in the same situation as you. And I really did not want kids for a long time. I didn't have any motherly urges until I was about 28, so I totally understand what it's like to just not want to have kids. And I understand the pressure some people can put on you (I'm talking to you, MIL) to have kids when you're not ready or don't want any.



Thankfully I am getting NO pressure from parents/partner's parents. I'm sure they're curious but have never said a word. I guess it helps that we've cohabited for ten years and never bothered to get married. Screwed up the whole default marriage--->house---->kid sequence, haha! We are buying a house soon though, which of course brings up general discussions about The Future, and issues like "are the schools good?" (important even if you don't have kids in case you want to sell the house someday) and "how many rooms do we need?" The issue of kid(s) just never really came up earlier except in relation to preventing their accidental occurrence. My partner says he doesn't know yet how he feels about it, but things he's said also indicate he's kind of a maybe. I've made it clear that I'm mostly a no at this point but am deeply ambivalent about it. Obviously a Big Discussion will have to happen at some point...I used to just feel like, meh, whatever, I'm not gonna worry about that now. And then I hit the magic 35 and felt like I HAVE to worry about it.

Oh, I totally know there's no rule that everyone has to have or want kids. I think it's just a matter of feeling the idea is worth exploring rather than dismissing outright or not really thinking about, which is something that has changed fairly recently (because of the aforementioned house-buying, and also my sister having a baby which although it did not provoke an instant baby-craving did at least provoke a sort of "hmmm, I don't know? babies are cool I guess?" thing.) Although I suspect that if one has to be this analytical about it then it's probably not a good idea, since most people seem to just WANT to do it and go for it.


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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:58 am 
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I was just thinking about this the other day, how I have changed since becoming a mom and what was already changing before I had him.

My story is similar to c&s. I had been living in SF for a year when I got pregnant. I was working a job I really loved and I did have some great friends, but I was still pret new to the area. Grey was a really, relly hard baby and I think for the first year I did nothing but think and talk about being a mom. Many times I thought about how sad it was that I was losing me. Then, just like that, I woke up oe day and realized that that wasn't really the case. Yes, I became a mom, but I also realized that many if my priorities had changed. I took a knitting class when grey was 3 months old and now I am really involved in both the fiber arts and the community that surrounds it. I am not only knitting, but also felting and weaving. I don't waste free time like I used to. If I have free moments I try to fill it productively, that hs been huge. Having a baby made me realize I don't have to be perfect at something to dive in, I will learn as I go and I will make mistakes, and that is ok. It also made me realize the process of learning. I might only be able to make something simple today, but in a year I will be able to do more, and that I am able to take into parenting as well.

I also really struggled with depression for a long time and I didn't admit to myself how bad it was. I'm nt perfect all the time now, but damn, getting out of the house everyday and having someone who needs me to get out has been amazing. Going to the park and being outdoors and getting exercise everyday has done wonders for me.

Having a kid has also made me think a lot differently about family and my long term priorities. It has made my relationship with my husband so much stronger and it has made me a much more supportive person. I usually tell my non baby friends that the first year (for me) you give up everything. I was a baby-wearing-nursing machine. Pretty much 24/7 was about grey. We are 19 months into this baby journey and my life today is so different than 6 months ago. I go out with friends! During the day! Alone! I have lots of hobbies and I wear cute outfits again. A huge part of that was me learning to let go and let others step in, even if it meant that grey was doing something I wasn't crazy about, for instance, we are visiting my parents and whenever I want to take a shower or something, they turn n the tv for him. I wouldn't do that, but it isn't going to kill him.

Tl;dr I am happier, get more exercise, and have real hobbies now.


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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:01 pm 
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That is an interesting question too actually: how did people who had kids decide to do it?

As for me, I really didn't think about it much ahead of time. Knew I wanted to do it someday (despite never particularly liking babies, never being someone who played family or whatever, etc). When I met my spouse (who is much older, and was married before me) I figured it'd never happen because if he'd wanted kids, he'd have had them by then.

(Looking back this is super hilarious, because he was like 30 when we met.)

Anyway, I broached the topic with him and he was actually interested so we put the idea on the back burner, waiting for a "good" time. Then when I went to grad school, some weird switch in my brain flipped that was like "now is the time!" Part of it was passing the age at which my mother had me, which I found I was oddly sentimental about.

So I am one of those people who had the strong positive desire, but I know not everyone here is...

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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:08 pm 
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We decided to have a baby when I got pregnant accidentally. I have pcos and I was in birth control, so I felt like, ok, this is meant to be, let's do it! I had never really wanted kids, maybe just a little, but sometime down the line, but I was 30, reasonably financially secure, engaged and all the other things my parents expected of me, so it seemed like I should keep the baby. I'm very glad we did!


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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:57 pm 
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Mine is 13 months, and I'm only just now starting to feel like a real person again (you know, with interests and activities that aren't parenting-related). We really wanted to have a baby (after both of us never wanting kids for years!), and it was pretty good timing. We are both pretty introverted and never really enjoyed going out late or spending a lot of time in groups, so we figured the lifestyle change wouldn't be too bad a shock. I had never actually made it to grad school because we kept moving, and I worked retail so quitting my job to stay home was totally cool with me since I wouldn't be sidetracking any sort of career, but I was really, really shocked how much becoming a mother rocked me to my core and how much I missed work life even though I didn't love my job at all. I had major postpartum anxiety and I struggled a huge amount with resentment -- while in the middle of the intensive parenting of an infant I really despaired that I would ever do anything with my life that didn't involve someone else's body fluids.

What's cool for me is that I've always been a big introvert and was really worried that becoming a SAH parent would be very isolating, but I've actually found a really wonderful community and great friends here through it all. I'm so grateful for this because I would probably feel way differently about parenthood if not for the support system I've created for myself. My husband, however, does not have any dad friends (or any close friends at all here) and it's really hard on him, as much as he loves being a parent.

As far as how I've changed: I've changed tremendously for the better. I'm infinitely more compassionate toward and understanding of my mother, and I think I understand her brand of crazy a lot better after experiencing such bad PPA. I'm more patient, more careful with my words, more compassionate an empathetic, more grateful, better a living in and appreciating the moment, a better partner, and more dedicated to my spiritual practice. All of this has come through a whole lot of work, however -- a necessary reaction to the needs of an infant, the needs of our family, and my personal needs. Weirdly, I'm really reveling in motherhood at the same time as I yearn to be more than "just" a mother (i.e. get a career, embrace my hobbies again, have professional or non-parenting-related relationships with people). I've also struggled with the feeling that everything I was pre-baby is gone, though piece by piece it's starting to come back as I find ways to integrate it into my new life. Now I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, though, and making plans to take pre-reqs and the GRE again and eventually go back to grad school (after #2!).

...As for the question of how to get "me" time when you are not a people person -- I go to the gym by my house at 8 after I put Sven to bed. I'm going to have my husband start doing bedtime and that will allow me to go a little earlier so we can have more couple time after I get back. I've found that for us, the right balance between getting the along time to recharge and do our own thing and the couple time to reconnect is difficult to achieve.


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 Post subject: Re: How have you changed since you became a parent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:59 pm 
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pixel wrote:
Although I suspect that if one has to be this analytical about it then it's probably not a good idea, since most people seem to just WANT to do it and go for it.


Well, I think it depends on who you are and how you approach decisions. I'm always pretty analytical, so I never had a burning desire that I had to have kids. I actively didn't want children until I was 37, and then I thought it would be an interesting experience, in part because I thought my husband would be a really great Dad and I figured that could pick up the slack if I was terrible at it for a while. I didn't grow up around kids and when my friends would have kids they seemed cute but also annoying - interrupting you when you were trying to do something or talk - kind of like a not so well behaved puppy. And I love traveling, had a high-stress professional job where I routinely worked 80 hour weeks and weekends and evenings and no one seemed to see their kids.

When we couldn't get pregnant, I was fine with it, but then thought what the heck why not find out what isn't working. So we did and it was my PCOS and that got fixed, I got pregnant and had an early loss. And over the process of figuring out why not (which was frustrating at times too - not going to lie), I started to really like the idea of parenting. So I quit my job, got pregnant right away, and focused on having fun with this part of my life. I had her at 40, and what I am struggling with now is whether I could handle a second and I have so many people telling me that its unfair to just have one. I guess people are always going to have opinions about things you choose to do, whether it is not have children, have too few or have too many. And if you have the right amount, then their opinions will be about how you are parenting them.

Its funny about the "When you know, you know!" people, because I've often dated people who would tell me that, and I never had the sense of "OMG YOU ARE THE ONE!" Even with my husband, whom I adore, I felt like we had a really intense and fun courtship and grew into that love and we made our decisions from that. It took me a bit to take the plunge and go for it. I almost have to overcome my inner analysis to take actions sometimes. It would be interesting to be one of the people who have a strong sense of certitude about things, but on the other hand, I figure I can manage things pretty well once step at a time, so maybe I don't need that sense.

Kelly, I found it superhelpful to read MBM and Paprikapapaya's posts in the Peeves thread and some of the ones in the other thread about how their friends had changed after having children and how to keep friendships alive. A lot of it seemed very helpful and useful. I love the idea of having people over if you don't feel like you can get out, and some of the ideas for toddler friendly things to do together were great. I realized that I need to start getting more people out here to visit me! Their suggestions seemed pretty uplifting to me and definitely helped me see how I could feel less isolated, which was great. Maybe we could all be mindful of being kind and non-judgemental.

I really like this thread, thanks for starting it C&S! <3

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Last edited by Tofulish on Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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