When I was younger, I wanted five kids.
When I got to be a teenager, I wanted four.
For a short time in my 20s, I wanted none.
And then I thought more recently, maybe two or three.
When I was still living in Australia and Brendan and I were seriously starting to contemplate what a family would look like for us after we got married, I started panicking at all the things I wouldn’t be able to do once I had a baby. Sleep in. Randomly go out to dinner, a movie, a party, or anywhere for that matter. I couldn’t get shitfaced and sleep off my hangover at the beach the entire next day. I wouldn’t be able to book a last-minute weekend away.
I worried a lot about the sleep I’d lose. I’ve had shoddy sleeping patterns throughout my life, but I’d started getting a solid seven or eight hours and sometimes more on weekends, and I couldn’t imagine my life without it. I worried about my figure, about being a frumpy mom. I worried about the worry, that in my already anxious heart and non-stop mind that I’d never again have a moment of peace once I had a little somebody to guide through the world and keep safe.
Then it happened. I got pregnant, quickly and on purpose. That baby will be seven months old next week. And I am unraveled.
Friends tell me I am not the person they thought I’d be as a mom. I’d always been so career-driven. I’ve worked multiple jobs at once throughout my life, chased and hunkered down when I was hungry for the next goal. I scraped together a full-time freelance career in a foreign country and was financially independent doing just that.
I became a mom and care so much less about so many things I once cared so deeply about. I could have been a stay-at-home. Maybe I still will be. My career was my most prized possession. I’ve cared about it more than love, more than family, more than myself at times. I’m still a dedicated employee. But now I truly know there is more to life, and that is the life I created.
Having a child has ruined me because it’s finally taken me out of myself. I am no longer the center of my own universe.
The eggplant-colored half moons and fine lines have crept up underneath my eyes from lack of sleep. I wear the same clothes over and over. My body is looser, my hips wider. Going out doesn’t matter anymore. I live in a city where there are endless things to do in the realm of both social life and professional efforts. I could network and knock back martinis every night of the week from here till eternity. I say “No” all the time now. And it feels good. There’s nothing more that I want to do than hang out with my kid. He’s fun. I created him. I wanted him in my life.
I am ruined because I am no longer who I used to be. I have been recreated. The life that broke, the woman that broke. All for the better.
This isn’t to say this is how I’ll always feel. I think it’s important as children get older to show them that you’re a human being, not just their parent, that you have your own wants and needs and goals and life outside of them. This is only the beginning for me and my boy. Before I know it, he’ll be 1, and then 5, and then 10, 15 and then collecting his high school diploma.
“It goes so fast,” everyone tells me, just like they told me when I first got to Australia on a one-year visa almost five years ago. I stayed longer than that, but I’m already back in America, and that life feels like an eternity ago.
I don’t want my baby to feel like a lifetime ago just yet. I want to be with him as he gets used to this world, to be his comfort, his prop, his drool rag, his launching pad for kicking off and exploring everything.
Having a child has ruined me, and I like myself better this way.