To the person who worries that being a parent means you never get to go do fun things anymore; to the new parent who hates the chaos that life has become, who fears that this crush of unpredictable newborns and hard outings will continue forever; to the expectant parent who is trying to “squeeze in all they can now because that ends when you have kids,”
You are so right.
There will be days when nothing goes right. There will be days, many of them, where everything you do ends, not when it is over, but when meltdowns happen and you are done, even if whatever you were doing is unfinished. There will be days when you look at the kids you love and think of how things would be easier, better, more fun, more relaxing, more doable, if they weren’t there. There will be so many things you will think about doing, only to decide that it just isn’t worth the hassle it will be to do them with tiny people in tow. There will be days where you are angry at the tiny person you loved and waited for and you text your spouse and beg them to leave work because you need a break. There will be social gatherings that you, you with your beloved kid who “never acts like this,” you who planned on being the Cool Parent Unchanged By Children, you, will ruin. There will be days where you will strap screaming kids into carseats and drive home only to find goldfish in your bra and blueberries smashed into the carseat. There will be friendships that end after you have kids, because there just isn’t time, or you somehow lose a part of a relationship and just can’t find it again. There will be exhaustion like you have never felt before, and so many disgusting bodily functions that you never want to see again.
There will be days like that.
But Dear Person, Dear Parent, Dear Hesitant Parent-to-be, I want you to know that there will be other days too.
There will be days where your kids laugh more than they cry. This laughter will wash over you, and it is stronger than the tears, and it erases the memory of them. It makes you laugh too, and there will be days where you laugh all day long, and then again at night when you think back on it. There will be days where you drive an hour just to see a field of sunflowers, and the baby doesn’t scream in the car. There will be days where all the kids get along, and they make you acutely aware of how big the sunflowers are, how delicious snacks taste when you eat them outside, how special summer is. There will be days where that baby who clung to your hip for months toddles off and picks his own blackberries, shoving fistfulls in his mouth and ruining his clothes, but you don’t even care. You will look at your filthy kids and feel in awe of their ability to love an experience so much that they don’t care about the mess. You will feel pride over piles of dirty laundry that testify to hard play and good days. There will be new people in this life with kids, and you will navigate a whole new set of friendships that are deep and good and forged over smashed goldfish and playground turf and synching nap schedules. There will be days where you climb in bed at the end of the day and you will be so tired, but also think to yourself, we really lived today well.
There will be days that your kids manage to not mess up. There will be days, adventures, moments that are fun in spite of having kids.
But that’s not really what I want to tell you, because it is so far from being the best part.
There will be so many more days that are fun because you are doing it alongside children, hand in hand with people who are still in awe of the world.
I know you don’t totally believe me, but you will. And I’ll save us both some goldfish to eat under the sunflowers.