“You won’t understand what it’s like to have kids until you have them.” I used to hate it when people told me that. I was an intelligent person, and it wasn’t like I’d never been close to anyone who had kids before. So when people told me how much work having a baby would be, I dismissed it. Yes, it would be a lot of work. But what is a lot? It’s a pretty subjective term. Some people would say running a marathon is a lot of work; some would say running for five minutes is too much. I was never one to shy away from a little honest work. I held down three jobs while I supported myself and completed my undergraduate degree. This baby thing wouldn’t faze me.
As much as I hate to admit it, I didn’t understand what it was like to have a kid until I had one. (I can hear a chorus of “I told you so” from all of my friends and family). I would have liked for someone to explain it to me in a way that I could have understood. It wouldn’t have made it any easier, but I’d at least have an idea of what I was getting myself into. It is very difficult to explain exactly how all-encompassing it is, but for the benefit of any future stay at home parents, here is my best try.
Imagine you’re at your job. You’re wherever you work now: in an office, in a restaurant, driving a truck, whatever. Now imagine that you also live at your job. You wake up and go to sleep at the same place that you work.
Okay. So here’s your typical day. First thing in the morning, usually far earlier than you want to get up, you’re awoken by your boss demanding that you do something for him immediately. If you try to ignore him and go back to sleep, he keeps pestering you, yelling louder and louder until you finally get up and do it. From that moment on, for the rest of the day, there is constantly someone around you asking you to help them with something. Your boss, your coworkers, or customers are always there, demanding your time. Sometimes they ask nicely and sometimes they don’t, but you’re always needed. They accompany you on your coffee breaks and lunch break, asking you how much longer you’re going to take because they can’t wait for your help. Most of the time, you work while you eat in order to pacify them. Even when you go to the bathroom, you’re listening to someone banging on the door and letting you know how urgently you’re needed.
After about twelve hours of that, you get a break. Everyone leaves you alone for a bit and you have two choices: enjoy a few moments to yourself or get some much-needed sleep. Exhausted, you collapse into your bed. About an hour later, you feel a tap on your shoulder. It’s your boss, and he’s sorry, but he needs you to get up and help him with something for a few minutes.
That’s your day. Now do that every single day of every week of every month. That’s what it’s like to have a baby.
Of course we love our babies more than our bosses and customers (at least I hope so). And it’s not all work, not like our jobs are. A lot of it is silly and fun, and most of it is rewarding. This is just the best way that I can think of describing the sheer amount of responsibility that comes with raising these little guys. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but I do have to say:
Itsa lotta work.