8 Reasons Why Having Kids Ruined My Life
2018 comes to a close and with it, a chance to reflect on another year of blah, blah, blah.
Spare me the self-reflection crap and just bring me the champers so I can wrap this bitch of a year up once and for all.
I’m sure there was a time when contemplating the year gone by seemed cute; these days I’m a busied-out, worn-out, burnt-out mother of four who can barely scrape together the cognitive skills to write a grocery list, let alone meditate on the wonder of this thing called life.
I blame my kids.
I’m pretty sure I had my life together before they came along, or at least had the energy to pretend I did.
It was one thing when they were small and messy and noisy and annoying, but at least back then they were easily amused by little more than a plastic cup and a bucket of water.
These days they’ve become enormous teenagers looming over me and pre-teenagers trying on equally as enormous attitudes to see how they fit for size (not well, I can tell you now).
People told me it would get easier as they got older. Wise people who had supposedly been there, done that. I held onto that promise like a bottle of wine upon thirsty desert horizons; okay, maybe upon sandpits at the playground but the point is, they lied.
Because I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t get easier. Only busier. More demanding. More challenging. More sleepless nights. More emotional exhaustion. More requirement to be present and engaged in their lives at all times.
And as I sit here practically mainlining caffeine, I can’t help but wonder if I’d have signed up for this gig if I’d have known what fresh hell I was getting myself into.
Because as 2018 wraps up, here’s my self-reflective list of reasons why having kids ruined my life.
1. No longer can I be selfish and do whatever I want, whenever I want.
Binge-watch an entire Netflix series in one day? Great! Never have to cook for anyone again? Even better! Spontaneously jump on plane to I-don’t-even-care-where just because I can? Bring it on!
Not a chance.
Instead, I’ve had to learn to care about the needs of others above my own and become far more selfless than I ever thought possible -- which in turn has apparently made me a better person or some such thing.
2. No longer can I pride myself on being notoriously impatient; an uncompromising virtue I’ve held all my life, happy to criticise anyone incompetent enough to slow me down.
Now, it’s me running late, running behind, having to wait for my kids to be ready for school or finish texting their friends or take an hour to get their hair perfect or spend a decade chopping one carrot for dinner, or whatever.
After 17 years of having to wait for them, I have become unfazed by waiting. I think this means I have not only learned the art of patience, but how to offer that same grace to others.
3. I’ve lost the ability to judge other parents; an easy go-to when feeling like an inadequate loser of a parent myself.
Have a listen to that kid’s tantrum, mine would never melt down like that.
OMG my kids would never speak to me the way those kids just spoke to their mother.
Did you see the way that Dad just lost it at his kids like that?
Ah, self-righteousness, how I once loved thee. But not anymore, it seems. This parenting thing is damn hard work, and we’re all just doing the best we can. There’s no room here for judgement, only compassion, empathy, understanding and kindness.
4. I’ll never get to be all high-end, top-shelf, five-star about life.
Which, it’s not actually like I ever have been. But it was always nice to imagine I could be if I wanted, like I’m just kind of choosing to be all white trash.
Like I could’ve gone to all those fancy restaurants, had the first-class travels, stayed at the luxury resorts if having kids hadn’t forced me to remain humble and grounded -- road trips in a car that’s clocked a lazy half-mil kilometres, budget camping trips, drive-thru burgers and two-dollar coffees.
Yet it seems, without warning, I have somehow become that person who not only appreciates, but prefers, these kind of family holidays. Simple things. Nature. Minimalism. Memories over possessions. Ugh.
5. I can’t afford to remain blissfully ignorant of the world around me; current affairs, moral issues, politics, technology -- the future no longer just affects me; it also affects the four humans I’ve brought into the world.
And where I’d once have been all like, meh, whatever, I’m happy crawling under my rock thanks very much -- now I choose to stay informed, educated and up-to-date with the world around me knowing everything that happens today will influence their future tomorrow.
Which makes me pretty damn woke, I have to say.
6. I don’t get to be self-indulgent and irresponsible with money now that I’m responsible for having to, y’know, feed and clothe and educate my kids.
Which has meant learning to be mindful about my own finances. Delayed gratification. Saving. Investing. Saying no to credit cards. Saying no to most things because we can’t afford them.
Carrying The Barefoot Investor around like a Bible. Discovering I kind of like this finance thing. Gaining control of my spending. Actually having money saved. Having investment goals. Watching our holiday fund grow.
The immense satisfaction that comes with teaching my kids this same financial freedom. Huh. Who knew.
READ MORE: Should You Kiss Your Kids On The Lips?
7. I no longer get to cruise through life oblivious to the person I am anymore, knowing four people are looking at me to help them understand the world.
All of a sudden, I’ve had to assess the person I am and the people I want my kids to become -- do these things align? What are my beliefs? What do I stand for? Am I actually living according to the values I’m teaching my kids to live by?
I don’t get to fake it anymore. It takes effort. There isn’t a choice. They’re watching. It isn’t a bad thing.
Hello, self-aware, mindful, grown-up me.
8. But mostly, no longer can I remain the tough-skinned, sharp-edged woman I once was; the one who refused to allow myself to love or be loved.
These days I’m softer, gentler, more empathetic and kind; willing to be vulnerable to all that is good and beautiful in this world.
In offering my kids unconditional love and grace, I’ve learned to offer such love and grace to myself; my flawed, messy, human self. In forgiving them for their mistakes, I’ve learned to forgive myself for mine; to see everything as an opportunity to learn and grow, to understand it’s not how many times we fall, but how we get back up that matters.
For all I have taught my kids, they have taught me more. For all I have grown my kids, they have grown me more.
And for all having kids has ruined my life, I couldn’t be more thankful for the person I am now -- the one I never could have been without them.
Now, enough with the blah, blah, blah; pour me a champers and let’s celebrate another year closer to our kids leaving home -- cheers to that, I say.