I barely remember my life before my son, Hudson, was here. In a way, I can’t believe I’m saying that, but in reality, I shouldn’t be surprised. My wife and I have been married for almost nine years and together a bit longer. We’ve had plenty of memorable experiences. When we announced she was pregnant, we heard countless parents say that they had a hard time remembering their lives before children. Even with one of my own on the way, I never understood how it was possible.
After having my own, I believe what they were saying, and four years later, I have a solid idea of how having a child changes you. Every parent’s experience is unique, but it’s next to impossible to quantify all the ways you’ll evolve in parenthood. I feel comfortable saying that most of them are inherently good. In place of making a long grocery list of changes one might experience, let’s narrow it down to something more manageable. Here are five ways having a child changes you for the better.
You Will Become a Multi-Tasking God
Personally, I was never much of a multi-tasker. The act itself jumbled my brain like a puzzle straight out of the box because — you know — ADHD. When my son was born, it soon became a skill that wasn’t so far out of reach. In parenthood, it’s either sink or swim, and when you’re fulfilling your newborn’s vague requests at one o’clock in the morning, you learn a thing or two. Before you know it, you’re changing a dirty diaper by hand, warming a bottle in another, and rocking them with one of your feet (and maybe counting sheep).
In my opinion, sleep deprivation seems to be a pretty good motivator. I wouldn’t recommend it, though, if you’re trying to learn how to multi-task. It seems that the adage “practice makes perfect” comes to mind. The trials and tribulations of early parenthood truly hone a person’s mind, if not, also making them a little insane in the process. There’s nothing like raising the life you created when you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing.
Now, as of writing this, I can make breakfast, write an article, play a few online matches on Xbox, clean the kitchen and carry on a conversation with my wife at the same time without losing stride.
You’ll Go From Paying People to Fix Things to Jack-Of-All-Trades
When you first bring that bundle of joy home, you’re excited about the future, and you probably have no idea what you’re going to do. When you’re caring for an infant, there aren’t many opportunities to learn new things or DIY around the house. And yet, we all know that still doesn’t stop things from breaking. So, you pay someone, and they make those pesky problems go away. One day, your mind will shift a bit. You will start thinking about more than just your kid’s sleeping and eating schedule.
You’ll realize that maybe you can save money on the next clogged sink or dead outlet and take matters into your own hands. When you finally do, all the money you saved can pay for that next box of diapers that never seem to last. What about that new shiplap wall your spouse has been dying to put in your house? Who’s going to do all that work? You, right? You’ve gained enough confidence to assume that you can do anything you set your mind to, and with YouTube, anything is possible. As you put more DIY notches on your belt, you’ll start to branch out and tackle things you would have never attempted in your wildest dreams.
In reality, trial and error have probably taught me more. Personally, I do all the maintenance on our cars and, as I toot my own horn, they are running great. I can confidently say by your junior year as a parent; you’ll be handier than Tim the Tool man and a more creative problem solver than MacGyver ever could be.
Your View of The World Goes From a Beautiful Paradise to The Danger Zone
If you’re like me, then you’ve been around for longer than you would like to admit. During my time on this earth, I’ve come to see it for its never-ending beauty and wonder. There’s always something new to learn, or to see, and to experience. Although, everything changed when my son came into the picture.
Now, the world is only full of sharp corners and pointy objects. There’s no longer just the beauty but something sinister underneath it all waiting to harm my boy.
Take this room, for example; while I would kill to have this be my living room, it very well could be the most dangerous room in the house. I would have to gate the stairs (even though my son can easily climb stairs), cover the coffee table corners, make sure all outlets are plugged or covered, and resist the urge to replace those nice couches with Nuggets.
I have more concerns, but you get the idea. Some of you might think that I’m overprotective, but let me tell you, the scary images of Hudson getting hurt flashing through my mind are ridiculous. It’s a natural reaction to having a child, and in my opinion, a sign of a competent parent. As crazy as it may sound, it does get better. The urge to protect your kid from all the hurdles they might come to fades as you realize that they can handle it. More importantly, so can you.
You’ll Go From Cursing Like a Sailor to Creating Your Own Language
Swearing is a natural reflex in my household. Sometimes it’s because the act of swearing is cathartic. Other times, it slips out in conversation. Either way, there’s a case to be made about swearing and its benefits. A study supports the idea that swearing can be cathartic, especially in the case of pain and/or stress. Saying your favorite curse word can increase your pain threshold, providing an analgesic effect. Who knew saying a few four-letter words could be so beneficial?
Be that as it may, the last thing you want to hear is your toddler spouting said words to friends and family, or worse, in public. Kids are sponges, and I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase in more ways than one. It’s completely true. I’ve said a word once, something unique, and my son will repeat it at some random point in the future. Unfortunately, sometimes (most times) those words are curse words. There was this one time I started calling someone a ‘jackass’ but only said jack and stopped myself. I thought I’d done well, but my son finished the word for me with the biggest smile on his face.
So, now we might call each other things like booty, buttface, or doodiehonker instead of the conventional curse words. We’ve even gone as far as to say stukie for the word stupid. While my son has repeated some of these words, he doesn’t seem to repeat them as much or seem interested in them at all. That shows that you might create nonsense words, but having your own language is of the utmost importance. There’s nothing more humbling than an ill-placed shit thrown in the conversation when you’re talking with your child’s daycare director.
You Go From Experiencing Life to Becoming a Teacher
In life, I grew up being taught and appreciating the value of a teacher. Teachers truly open the minds of their students. They work tirelessly to instill a bit of creativity and the desire to learn in every child. Like most educators today would tell you, the teaching moments don’t just stop at the curriculum. Life experience is as important as math and reading, and the call to instruct them on what’s out there never wavers. Even in today’s turbulent education environment, Teachers are more important than ever and are the lifeline to a proper education. There is much I could say on this topic alone, but I’ll keep it simple.
As a parent, some of that awesome responsibility passes to you. In parenthood, there are countless opportunities to teach your child something new. The first thing you should remember, whether you’re a single parent or not, it’s okay if you miss one of these moments. There’s no shortage of experience in life, and your child, like most kids, will have to learn some lessons the hard way.
If you’re a parent now, I know reading that won’t quell your desire to teach your child everything you can. That’s good.
In that way, you resemble one of our society’s most important pillars. Teachers have the strength and the ingenuity to bear the weight of life’s struggles and responsibilities. Teachers have the power and knowledge to guide, advise, shape, inspire, and support the lives they touch. Teachers have so much in common with parents that settling into your newest role isn’t much of a change when you have a child of your own. I hope to help my son appreciate and respect what teachers have to offer in his own life.
Each day in a parent's life will require every ounce of your teacher skills (and patience). You will notice that the person you were is no longer the person you are, and that’s okay. It won’t be long before you realize that you’ll begin to lose yourself in the overwhelming responsibility you’ve been given. Give in to that feeling. In this way, you’ll become the best parent you can be. You might also like to know that the desire to be the best never goes away, even when your child becomes more independent.
If you’re worried about losing yourself completely during this new journey, don’t worry; in eighteen years — give or take — your kid will move out, and the house is all yours again. I’m still working on that last part.