I was inspired to write today's post by a friend who was considering whether or not to have children and was concerned, as a lot of people are (I was), about losing her sense of identity in her kids. I can totally understand that. Parenthood often looks from the outside like a form of slavery. Diapers to change, children to chauffer, laundry to wash. All things fun and interesting relegated to the back burner in favour of mundane domestic tasks. And of course, there are days like that as a parent, although I had days like that before I was a parent as well. Maybe without the diapers, but then I've had customers, clients and coworkers who all but expected me to wipe their bottoms too.
Before I had kids there were qualities I highly prized in myself and in others.
My humourous, spontaneous, adventurous husband
Humour, spontenaiety, creativity, adventure, just to name a few. I had interests and passions and hobbies that filled my days with curiosity and intrigue. I surrounded myself with fun, interesting, people and did crazy awesome things. I can't tell you how many times when I was pregnant with my oldest I heard someone say, "Well, you won't be able to do that once you have kids" or "You had better kiss that good-bye." I refused to believe it. Eight years and five kids later I still refuse to believe it.
Kids eat passion for breakfast. They really do. They gobble it up like candy at Christmas. Nothing in the whole world motivates children the way passion and enthusiasm do. They are wired for it. They need it like they need air and water and the more you give them, the stronger they'll grow. Like a well-tended garden, they'll give you back at least as much as you've put in.
The things I love and the things my family loves have become the flavour that makes our family unique. Before I had kids my days were interesting, now they are meaningful: the memories we are making carrying who we are and where we've been into a future I am helping to create with my own two hands. My identity isn't lost, it's expanded. My experiences are made richer by having people to share them with.
I'm not saying parenthood is for everyone. Clearly, it isn't. What I am saying is that it isn't a prison sentance. Sure there are challenges, but in my experiences challenges are where you discover who you are, not where you lose it. Like anything in life, it's not all roses and butterflies and it's not all misery and sacrifice. 80% of it is what you make of it and the other more challenging 20% is what it makes of you.