07 February 2013

Advice: If You Want Children, Don't Babysit

Before Lorin and I decided to have a baby, I thought it was a good idea to get in some quality mommy practice by volunteering to babysit  for some of my friends. Just to let you know, this was a BAD idea. Not that helping my friends out was a bad idea, but using babysitting as a motherhood preview was a bad idea. Because of this, I developed flawed ideas of what I thought motherhood would be like, and eventually I decided I wanted to opt out of being a mom.

After long talks with my mom and sister over their experiences with being mothers, reading blogs, and talking to friends, my ideas started to change. These people, especially my mom, helped me realize that taking care of my own children is completely different from babysitting someone else's children.

So, for those of you who are considering opting out of motherhood, here are some things I thought before, and the things I know now about being a mom.

1. What I thought: Moms have to entertain their children for hours upon end all day, every day.

What I know now: When I am at home I play with Miranda, read to her, and take her on walks, but that does not make up my entire day (this maybe takes up two hours of it). A lot of the time, Miranda just likes to be around me, so I will put her in the room where I am and let her sit or play by me while I do whatever I need to. On days that she is really fussy, I'll strap her to me and carry her around.

2. What I thought: I will be a house prisoner. I won't be able to get out and do things anymore.

What I know now: My situation might be a little different than most because I am terrified to drive our stick-shift car, therefore, I don't have transportation (on my own). However, Lorin will drop Miranda and I off wherever we want to go before he goes to school. Sometimes Miranda and I visit museums downtown, other times, we go to NCSU campus. We still have a lot to explore. I'm not saying getting out is easy, in fact, getting out of the house is something that I have been struggling with lately, but you just have to make up your mind and do it. Look up fun places to go online and go there for the day.

3. What I thought: My life is over when I become a mom. My life is now my kids.

What I know now: This is partly true and partly false. Yes, I am in charge of a little person now, and I need to take care of her needs, but that does not mean I have to give up singing, sewing, writing, or anything else I love doing. I will say though, you might not get to do the things you love as often as you want, but you can still do them. Just set goals for yourself or join a group that encourages you to keep up your hobby. For example, I sing in a choir and I participate in a writing and sewing group. The time frame in which I do my hobbies has changed (ie. during naptime or Lorin babysits while I go out), but I do not need to give them up because I have a daughter now.

4. What I thought: I will have a mental breakdown if my child throws tantrums.

What I know now: I babysat for some friends who had kids who were, lets just say, very prone to tantrums. Every time their little boy freaked out, I would freak out. I would be in tears because I didn't know what to do with him. I assumed this would happen when I had my own child. On the contrary, when Miranda is fussy, because I am her mom and have spent lots of time with her, I know what I can do to calm her down. I know how to read her when she is hungry, cranky, gassy, sick, ect. This is completely different from babysitting a child that I know nothing about. And, to top it off, I have more love and patience for my own child.

5. What I thought: We won't get to hang out with friends anymore.

What I know now: I couldn't have been more wrong. Lorin and I had good friends in Idaho and now, we have good friends here too. We take Miranda with us and she plays and crawls around while we socialize. She loves playing with our friends' kids, and loves being held by everyone. Yes, sometimes she has crying fits when it gets past her bedtime, but we just deal with it. We will try to get her to fall asleep, sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't, but its OK.

So here is my simple advice: If you really want to know what being a mom is like, talk to real moms. Ask them about their experiences--especially their hardships. So, the next time you babysit, or see a screaming kid in a grocery cart at Walmart, or hear a horror story about how so and so's 6-year-old daughter chased her babysitter around the house with a meat cleaver, don't make such a swift judgement on motherhood.

Will you share this post? Better yet, will you follow along? Thank you!

6 comments:

  1. Love this. I think a lot of people need to hear this, especially when a lot of moms out there are super critical of motherhood and talk about how their lives ended. Thanks for posting!

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  2. Ummm... amen! Honestly, I was an education major and I learned that I pretty much hate kids. Ha! But then I became a mom and I learned that it is completely different with your own. I love my kids like crazy and I kiss their cheeks all day. I even love my friends' kids that I'm close to. And over time, I've come to adore my Primary kids. I think it's a joke when people think that babysitting and parenting are comparable. I agree with everything you said.

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    1. I thought there was something wrong with me. I'm glad I'm not the only one who hated kids before! After having Miranda, I don't mind babysitting anymore. I think its because I know I can watch the kids and do the things I want to do too (as opposed to sitting on the floor and playing patty cake for five hours).

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  3. Awesome, but so and so's kid really did have a meat cleaver. You have turned out to be a far better mom and you child is much cuter.

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  4. I'm sure we were a crazy family of 5 that may have caused you some hesitation, but I'm glad you took the plunge and can appreciate what you were missing without your little Miranda. Your family looks more complete now. What a great post! You should submit it as an article or something. I loved it. See? You can still do great writing with kids. I miss you friend. :)

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    1. I love your family! You guys actually gave us hope for having a family. At one time, I felt like I was hearing a lot of negativity from young mothers about their children (I think I might have told you about this when we went to the Julie B. Beck devotional). You were always so positive about your kids and about being a mom. I really appreciated your example.

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