Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Musings on Motherhood: Do Babies ‘Take Over Your Life’?

As part of my “So What! Wednesday” post a couple weeks ago, I wrote about the fact that I still have other things I want do before babies come along and “take over my life.” My longtime blog friend HiLLjO responded to this statement, making the excellent point that while a baby may change your life in every possible way, that doesn’t necessarily constitute a complete “takeover” of all your free time, or a loss of your individuality.

While I know everyone’s personal experience is different and that no two women view motherhood in exactly the same way, in my eyes, at this particular time in my life, a “takeover” is exactly what I fear might happen were I to have a child. Yes, I’m sure there are plenty of women who, especially with strong support systems in place, can find the right balance even from the very start. But I also know that there are women who, especially during the months right after their children are born, claim to barely have time to use the bathroom or sit down, let alone schedule “me” time and work on personal projects.

Image Source: lisettefloresnieves.blogspot.com
All of that said, even though I think I do want to have a baby someday, I'm hoping it won't be until I reach a point where I’m ready to focus a little less on myself, my husband, and our individual goals, and a whole lot more on a devoting myself to caring for a child. And since I'll be turning 30 later this year, I do also realize that it's time to start nailing down some long-term decisions sooner rather than later.

What do you think? Does having a baby often mean at least a partial loss of your identity and freedom as an individual, or am I misinterpreting things completely? 

25 comments:

  1. I feel the same way you do, except I'm turning 32 this year! My husband and I lead a very baby-unfriendly life. We have sharp corners and nice art in our apartment (which, by the way, you have to walk up four stories to get to - no elevator). We travel a lot. We constantly entertain and have people over until all hours of the morning. I really don't see how any of these things will be possible with a child, but I do want to be a mother one of these days.

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  2. I think so much of it depends on the person and the child. There are women who purposely make their child(ren) their whole life and idenity while others still are able to work and have their "me" time. You just do what feels right for you.

    I think working has helped me keep somewhat of an idenity outside of just being a mother but it's true we have less freedom financially and personally now. But for me it's a sacrifice I was willing to make to be a mother.

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  3. For a while I really thought that it did and maybe I still believe that it does but I'm approaching a point in my life where I think that's ok. I feel I'm ready for that kind of change. Sure I won't be able to do many of the things I enjoy doing at the drop of a hat but there will be new and exciting things to do with a child and my dreams we still be quite attainable just with a little greater reason for ambition.

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  4. This is a tricky subject and one I'm finding no two people feel exactly the same about. Personally, I am bursting at the seams excited to get started on my family.

    I can't think of anything that must be more fulfilling than being a mother. One could argue that I feel that way because I am not very fulfilled by my job. As a personal assistant, I am not doing my "life's passion" day after day, and while that sometimes makes me sad...it will also be a lot easier to walk away from when I have a baby (I plan on finding a job closer to, or working from, home).

    That being said, I am also not planning to start a family simply because I feel unfulfilled by my job...I've worked many jobs in my life - I know that the job of mother will be my favorite and most rewarding job to date.

    Chris said to his father last year that he wanted to be more financially stable before having a child. His dad looked at him, burst out laughing and said "No one is ever financially ready enough to have a child. You have one, and figure it out from there"

    I thought that was a funny story, even though I know your feelings are financially based. Others I know who have felt the same way as you, felt their fears/uneasiness about children dissipate as soon as they had their child.

    From what I know about you you are these things: grounded, smart, a go-getter, and extremely nurturing. You'll know when you're ready and if that time isn't now, that's fine, enjoy this time as a family of two (plus the kitties!) But when you are, I think you're going to be an amazing mother.

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  5. I agree with Shannon and Laura entirely!

    Deciding to have a family is a highly personal and individual decision; the "when" of it all is just as personal.
    When we were deciding to have children I was so, so afraid of the Takeover. There's just really no way to know how it will be until you are there (with that as well as financially), so if the urge to have a baby is there, follow it. If it's not quite there, give it and yourself time. You will know and it will happen just when it is "supposed to."

    You are so smart and full of life and ambition, Heather. You will be a wonderful mommy and Stephen will be a great Dad whenever you two feel the time is right.

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  6. I think it is possible to be both ways. I feel very fulfilled having the boys, but also have my me time and our couple time. When C was a baby until he was two, I still worked and loved the balance of work/home. It wasn't a financially sound decision with two kids and living in CA (I was a teacher) so Ive been at home the past two years. It was definitely a tough transition but once I learned to schedule the me time and continue the things that made me happy, it has become such a joyful time. Kev and I go out on at least one date a month and every Friday night we put the boys to bed, put on music and talk and have our cocktails, no tv, no phones, no laptops. Im sure you will know when it is right for you and find the perfect balance!

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  7. My biggest advice is to never forget You. I've seen it happen too many times where the woman is Mommy 24-7 and forgets that se had an identity. You can still have interests and be sexy and be You. Being a mom doesn't mean you have to be perfect or holy. I've seen the stress of having kids and the constant parent-mode break marriages. It's all about finding balance and although the natural instinct is to give everything to your child, don't forget about yourself or your husband. It can be done :)

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  8. ps: even though I know your feelings AREN'T financially based is what I meant to say..not "are"

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  9. My entire identity is now wrapped up in my child. It is the truth. I dont mind it though. It sounds totally pathetic but I love being with her. I dont WANT to leave her.

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  10. It depends on how you want to parent. I quit my job to be a stay at home mom, I now blog and write bout parenting, and on top of that I practice attachment parenting, so most of my time revolves around my child. It really depends on each individual parent and family though :)

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  11. i'm really interested to see how much having a baby impacts what i do day to day, and how life changes. it's definitely going to be hard and different, but i welcome it.

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  12. We have this conversation all the time and there is something that I refuse to budge on: we will be co-parenting as an equal team. I have seen too many women lose themselves as their husband's jobs and social lives have been unaffected. Ever hear a husband tell someone he's "babysitting" his kids? Not for me.

    So, with that - we'll be waiting a bit longer until we both have the flexibility in our careers to co-parent.

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  13. Kim and I are the same age and just like her, my lifestyle is not kid friendly neither is my condo, it's all white. I think kids are really cute but they take a lot of time and energy. I do know that they slow you down, something has to give, do you want to make dance recitals, soccer games, swim meets? If so then yes, you leave work early then you decide, do I work after the meet is over, or just unplug for the evening? I don't think I am personally good at dividing my time amongst tasks.... The good thing is, until I get married I don't have to really worry about kids. And at 32, the earliest I can see myself getting married is 34... Do you think I sound I like I want a honeymoon baby???? No way! Realistically I will be like 37 and I don't want kids after 35. My mom had my brother at 37 and said her energy level was nothing like when she had me at 30..... Lol. This is turning into that friends episode whe Rachel is trying to count back the minimum age she has to be to get married and have an ankle biter.

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  14. i think those moms that let the kids take over their life allow it to happen and while a baby is a huge responsibility, i don't think i will change me into mom, i will still make time to go to the bathroom do my hair etc because i will be a better mom by allowing me some me time

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  16. This is a tough issue, and it really depends from person to person. For me, kids take away a lot from me, and I'm not ready to give myself up yet. Who knows, one day I may, but at this point in my life, I just want to do what I want, when I want. I just turned 28 this year, but I don't feel like rushing into things. Having children is a huge responsibility, and being a parent is no joke. I think a lot of people go into parenting thinking it's the "natural" progression of a human's life, which isn't necessarily the case, especially nowadays.

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  17. I don't have children so I cannot address this issue. I do imagine that it is a huge responsibility and there is no doubt you have to be willing to give up/part with a lot of your individual freedom because once you have children you have someone who has to always come first and who will have a lot of needs that must be addressed before you can even begin to consider your individual freedoms. Definitely not something I feel ready to do right now.

    Tracy @ Sunny Days and Starry Nights

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  18. This is something I struggled a lot with before I made the decision to have a child. It's also why I didn't have my first child until I was nearly 34...I wanted to make sure I had most of my wild out. But I will say that I think I did a lot of worrying for nothing.

    Obviously a lot changes when you become a parent, but as far as losing my identity, I don't think I did at all. I still work at a job I love M-F. I find time to do things for me like going to the gym and going to yoga class. After she goes to bed at night, I can relax with a glass of wine or read or do whatever. I am no less of the person that I was before her, she makes me more than what I was.

    I'm sure I talk about her enough that my friends with no children probably think that I've completely lost myself, but I haven't. She's just so awesome that I love to talk about her. :)

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  19. By the way you can have nice things and a child. I don't know where someone would get the idea that you couldn't. Having a baby isn't all slobber and dirty diapers and messes all the time. You can even travel with them! I can't wait until my daughter is older so I can take her on trips. I want to show her everything and see the things I've already seen through her eyes. She really does make life better.

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  20. I've seen many more cases where a baby completely consumes the mom and the mom barely has anything to talk about or think about. I can't be that mom and I think being cognizant about that is a key in not turning into a mom that loses her identity.
    I also think that identities can morph - you can be a fashionista, a lawyer, and a mom. The biggest part of your life doesn't have to be the only part!

    xoxo,
    Chic 'n Cheap Living

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  21. I'm so excited to have a baby! Maybe I'm naieve, but I feel as though children can fit into their parent's lifestyle. I'm not saying I'll take my kids out every night or anything since that's not my husband and my lifestyle. I'm a strong, independent woman but I can't wait until my husband graduates and we can start our family!

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  22. since my baby's not here yet I can only speculate on this topic but I'd like to think that with a supportive partner and family and great work-life balance you don't have to lose yourself or your individuality when you have a kid. Sure, your priorities change and your life changes but in a good way.

    Personally we've wanted a kid for awhile now and both of us are cool with trading nights out for nights in, down with the expected lack of sleep for a few years and all little messes that come with kids. We really look forward to having a little one to raise and share our lifestyle/values/interests with.

    I say do the things you want to do first cuz there's no going back once you decide to have a child!

    interesting post/topic.

    em

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  23. Yes there is a loss of some freedom but there's also a purpose in how you spend your time!! Our son honestly has been such an awesome addition life hasn't been the same but we cannot imagine life without him in it...you will know when the time is right to make the transition to mommyhood!

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  24. I'm anxious to see how this works out for T and I when we become parents! It seems so abstract to think about now, but I think we'll be good at keeping a balance! xoxo

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  25. Our son is only 3 weeks old... I think this is the "no time to shower" phase & while I have showered anytime I wanted (and taken long baths) I can understand why people say that. As for the balance of life/me time I think it will be a constant shift of tides..there will be times in my life when the priorities vary. I am returning to work part time and while I'm excited to be back doing what I *love* and has been my passion for 12 years I already know I am going to miss not being at home with him (even though I know we're lucky enough to have flexible work schedules he'll be with his father when he's not with me} We have planned flights already to TX, VA, and DC (have baby will travel) and arranged for Rob's parents to babysit the weekend of my best friends wedding in July... it's all about finding a balance..I think that if I am a happy mama I'll be a better mama and enjoy all the moments of motherhood more. "Happy" for me includes a lot of variety, balance, and blending of activities.

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