The ABCs of Things to Consider Before Having Kids: Letter Y

Y is for Years

Before you decide to have kids, you should consider all of the years of your life that are going to be consumed with parenting, and whether or not some of those years ought to be spent getting to know yourself better.

You may think that you and your child could find out who you both are together, and maybe that’s true for some people, but life isn’t always that poetic. Sometimes you can find out the hard way that you don’t really know who you are yet after you have kids, and this can lead to a lot of struggles for you and your child.

It’s really difficult to raise a human being to be whole when you aren’t whole yourself, and when you don’t know how to be.

I’ve been through some traumatic experiences throughout my life that have left me with a lot of residual issues, many of which I didn’t realize that I had to the extent that I do until after I had my son. I wish I could say that having a child healed me or something, but I’d be lying if I did.

I’m a very broken person who’s trying to figure out how to heal while simultaneously raising another human and dealing with all of the challenges that come along with parenting. It’s a lot, it’s not easy, and I’ve spent a lot of days over the course of the 8 years my son’s been alive feeling guilty for not being able to be better for an awesome kid.

Honestly, I don’t love myself. That’s a problem when you have a kid. Not only does it make it difficult for me to accept love from him or anyone else, but it makes it difficult for me to show a young, impressionable kid how to love himself.

Having my son young gave my husband and I a violent shove into adulthood. The years that many people our age spend partying, fornicating, wandering, and trying to find themselves, we spent as new parents playing house and taking care of a child. We were forced to grow up in ways that many people our age don’t experience.

I used to say that I thought this was a really positive thing, because a lot of young people can be sort of selfish and narcissistic and I felt that having a child pushed my husband and I out of that self-absorbed sort of mindset and gave us something more important to focus on. It made us realize that we weren’t the center of the universe, and that’s never a bad thing.

While I still feel that way, I now also feel like you need a lot of those younger years to figure out who you are before you have kids, so that you don’t sort of lose who you are after you do.

When you have a child, the person other people seem to see you as from the point you give birth and on from there is not your own person with your own identity anymore; you become “Isaac’s Mom” or “Keisha’s Dad”.

This can cause you to feel stripped of your own individual identity, which can make you feel as though you’ve sort of lost who you are outside of being someone’s parent. This is especially true for people who didn’t take the time to truly find themselves, to become fully acquainted with and comfortable with themselves, and who therefore don’t really, deeply know who they are before they have kids.

Our society tends to make us feel as though our interests are supposed to be our kids and what they’re doing; our activities are always supposed to involve our kids; our lives are supposed to be all about our kids from the point they enter the world and for the rest of our lives. You tend to be judged and/or feel guilty if you want to explore the interests that you have outside of parenting, and so a lot of times, parents seem to dive into this new identity of someone’s parent to the point where they lose their own sense of self in the process. This is especially true for stay-at-home parents.

Exploring your interests is an important part of connecting with yourself, and you no longer have much time to do so once you have a child. You may have other things that you’d like to do with your life, but parenting takes up a lot of the time over a lot of the years that you have to explore your interests. It also takes up a lot of the money and a lot of the energy that you need in order for this exploration to occur.

For some people, this may be okay with them. They may be willing to sacrifice a lot of their younger years in order raise kids, and are totally cool with waiting until they’re older to hopefully get some time to explore other interests in a deeper way. But for others, they may be left feeling lost and overwhelmed — realizing that they’re trying to assist their child in the discovery of who they are while they don’t even truly know who they are themselves.

It’s not selfish, abnormal, or wrong to want and need to take time to find out who you are, and to become secure, comfortable, and confident in that person. It’s exploration that I feel like everyone should spend some good years taking part in before they have kids.

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