It's easy to get wrapped up in the "baby" part. The sweet bump, the tiny clothes, the pride. It's a magical time. Moments to be cherished and adored. But I think that it's also important to stress the importance of what happens when the moments are not so sweet. To talk about the screaming, the tantrums, and the sleepless nights. I've thought about it a lot and made a list of the top 5 things that I personally as a young parent think are very important for future parents to know.
- You're not just having a baby, you're raising a person. It's easy sometimes to zero in on the baby part of it and forget that you're going to be responsible for a human being for the rest of your life. Not just the first 18 years, it's forever. They are your responsibility and hopefully you will choose to mold the best version of yourself possible to present to society. Remember, once you're done raising them, the rest of the world has to deal with them. No pressure.
- It ain't all smiles and giggles. Babies are sweet. Appreciate the moments when you leave them in one spot and that's where they stay. It's a whole different ball game when they go mobile. Be prepared to say no, a lot. Cherish the sweet moments when they are loving and happy because you will have more than your share of tantrums and terrors to deal with. Life will be frustrating at times; you'll think sometimes that they are deaf because they just won't listen. It is not always easy.
- You have to be selfless. There are a lot of things you're going to give up. Privacy, peace, sleep...just to name a few. You'll have moments on your own, so appreciate them and make the most of them because ultimately, your child is your responsibility. It's not like babysitting where you get to give them back. Oh no, the babysitter is gonna be giving them back to YOU my friend. You don't get a pause button on parenting when you're sick or when you've got a headache. It's not just full time, it's a life time. Babies bring a lot of joy and happiness to your world...but you're going to have to make a lot of sacrifices along the way.
- Be prepared financially. It might not seem like one kid would cost that much. Wrong-o. According to CNNMoney.com, it will cost an average income family a total of $241,080 to raise a child for the first 18 years of their life. That's just in dollars and cents. Of course, raising your child in many ways is priceless. But realistically, not only are you responsible for food, daycare, clothes, etc...you are also responsible for providing a roof over their head, for a reliable car to tote them around in, and for their healthcare. Your responsibilities are endless when you become a parent.
- Know that you will never love anyone or anything as much as you love your child. It's impossible to explain until you become a parent. Children are a physical manifestation of love. You will come to know the terror of your own mortality. You'll worry about them every moment. You'll think about them even when they're miles away staying with their grandparents. You'll be convinced you're doing a terrible job at raising them. You'll be a bundle of emotions at all times when it comes to your kid. That will never go away.
Yes, being a parent is the most important job there is. It is meaningful and rewarding. It is also difficult and at times, severely frustrating. And I know this in just the first 2 years of my daughters' life. I hear I haven't even gotten to the hard part yet.
Having a baby is the greatest of God's gifts, a bit of Heaven here on earth...but it comes with great responsibility. It's easy to have a baby, it's hard to be a parent. It's great to be excited to have a baby..just make sure that you're ready. Instead of saying "I can't wait to have a baby," I think it's better phrased as "I'm ready to be a parent."