If you’re a childless person who has considered the thought of having children at some point in your life, you may be as terrified as I am. No wonder, given that many parents have nothing good to say about the experience apart from terrifying stories of complete loss of self, interests, friends and life in general. When you tell such a parent about your visit to the cinema or theater, a run or a workshop (in fact you can insert any activity that’s somewhat positive) you often hear “Ah, enjoy your life when you can because once you have kids…”. Whenever I hear something like that, I feel like I want to perform a sterilisation procedure on myself then and there. However, looking at other parents, one starts to wonder whether it has to be that bad, or are children as good an excuse as anything for one’s weaknesses? After all, plenty of mothers and fathers are social and physically active, even though it’s certainly more challenging than during one’s childless life.
First of all, I don’t feel I can lecture anyone. I have no children of my own and those who claim I have no idea about how it is are right. I’m sure that children require many compromises and sacrifices and your life will never be the same again after you’ve had one. Late night partying must disappear from the list of your entertainments but to be honest, I know very few established couples in their late twenties and early thirties who do it anyway. Other age appropriate activities don’t seem out of reach for parents. I’m pleased to see more and more couples as well as mothers and fathers on their own, taking their children out almost wherever they go. Especially house parties are baby friendly with lots of aunts and uncles, happy to take care of the little ones (and even happier to give them back). Coffee dates and dinners with girlfriends also seem to be increasingly popular among mothers. What’s more, it appears that the babies who are out a lot and who are used to varying environments and people tend to be quite pleasant. One starts to wonder whether it may be nurture and not nature that produces children of the sort of little Satans we’ve lived under for a year now and who at the age of five and seven approximately, throw a few tantrums daily.
Secondly, I see more and more physically active parents. Park Runs, for instance, are full of moms and dads running and walking with prams. Some activities will require leaving the child behind, but parents should try to support each other in their motivation to remain active. Recently I saw a mom of a six month old child in my Facebook feed who completed a 53 kilometers long cycle while the father was taking care of the child. I was not only impressed but also ashamed. I don’t have a newborn to care for and I don’t exercise that much! To see people on hikes with their children when they’re still carryable is also not a rare sight. The older the children, the more options a parent gets, including gyms offering childcare while a parent or parents exercise.
Last but not least, there are passions and interests that parents have and that they ideally shouldn’t be abandoned when the child is born. The list of possible preferences is so long that I cannot provide solutions. For all the naysayers I would just like to mention a few inspirational stories. Stephen King finished his first novel while working full time and soon after he had his first baby. J.K. Rowling had more than one child when she started to draft Harry Potter on serviettes (!). A famous Polish traveller, Tony Halik was travelling with his wife who was pregnant and after she gave birth to their newborn baby. Last but not least, Stephen Hawkings’s first wife was working on her PhD as a mother of three children and… well, the wife of Stephen Hawkings, who as we know couldn’t help much because of his condition. I’ll never stop believing that when there’s a will, there’s a way. Parents should be reasonable but changing their lives entirely for the sake of their children will just make them miserable. A happy parent means a happy child and I say that as a formerly unhappy child of an unhappy parent. You still deserve to pursue your dreams and enjoy your life when you have offsprings and you shouldn’t listen to those who are telling you otherwise. Parenthood should enhance your life and not destroy it. Otherwise why have children at all?
Cheers to all the active mothers out there! I’m sure it’s often not easy but I hope to one day join their ranks rather than those of the self-proclaimed martyrs.
Time for your opinion Dear Rinsers! Do you admire active parenthood or do you think that once you become a parent you should be housebound? Did you manage to be a happy mom or dad or do your regret ever having children (you can be honest, you’re anonymous)?