Those who have been trying for a child would be understandably ecstatic after learning that a child has been successfully conceived, while others may encounter mixed feelings of joy and trepidation. Though the fear is certainly not unwarranted, the decision to become parents is a life-changing commitment that has proven to be rewarding and life-affirming for many. In any case, preparation is key when embarking on this lifelong journey. Here are some of the most common aspects of parenthood that people bemoan not knowing beforehand.
Free time is worth more than gold
Also known as the voluntary abstinence from intimacy with your partner and any form of social interaction with your friends in favour of glorious blackout sleep, the initial stages of parenthood are especially rough. Your sleep is likely to be interrupted several times a night for the first couple of years by crying babies, and in the subsequent years by children who would wake you up for any number of reasons including: Having had a nightmare, having to go to the bathroom, needing a drink of water, being unable to sleep, being unable to go back to sleep, and preferring to wake you by squeezing into your bed just because. In the next ten years of your life, any free time you have is spent running in an adrenaline-fuelled panic as you try to squeeze enough hours out of each day to wash the laundry, clean the house, help the kids with schoolwork, cook for the kids, and deliver the kids to school, the childcare centre, their grandparents’ place, and enrichment centre.
Everything is a potential threat
After becoming a parent, suddenly the world looks like a dark and scary place. Your heart is wandering around, heedless of the numerous dangers and pitfalls that await, and your friends don’t seem to understand. In fact, they seem to think that you’re just one step away from covering your kid in bubble wrap and strapping him to a chair. Tempting as it may be, you do know that your kids are going to want to explore the world around them, and that they should. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do your best to protect them. This could mean anything from childproofing all your furniture, to researching vaccinations and scheduling clinic visits, and even to screaming ‘Come back here and hold my hand!’ without a complete trace of embarrassment when your kid darts towards the road on his own.
Money isn’t everything. But it sure means a lot
Your greatest financial woes used to have to do with your mortgage. Before that, it was about paying any credit card fine you may have racked up during an extravagant shopping trip or an impromptu weekend getaway. Now it’s all about whether you can afford to pay for all eight grades of piano lessons, whether that newest class that promises to promote your toddler’s cognitive development is really worth hundreds of dollars each month, and as your child gets older, whether you can afford to pay for tuition for every single subject to keep your child ahead of the curve. There’s a reason why tuition is a billion-dollar industry in Singapore, and we suspect that it might have something to do with the parents throwing wads of cash at it every year. And if it’s your first child? Brace yourself for that frantic desire to buy out entire aisles’ worth of baby shoes, clothes, toys that your kid would outgrow in six months, leaving your wallet empty but your SD card full.
Your perspective and priorities are overhauled
When you have a child, it changes you completely. Your values and principles are totally overhauled to make space for the newest member of your family. You’d find yourself thinking of ways to explain how the world works in a simple way to your child without having to lie, and without dimming that innocent wonder in his eyes. Suddenly, you’d find yourself looking at the world with new eyes. Being a good person is suddenly one of your top priorities as you try to lead by example, showing your child how a little kindness goes a long way. Even your habits and interests would start to change. Eating a healthy diet and sleeping early is only good sense when you need to keep your energy up, and it also sets a good example for the kids. Computer gaming and trashy television programmes are also likely to change into tea parties with stuffed animals and Dora the Explorer videos.
Someday your child will be an adult
Children grow at an extraordinary pace. Your baby just became a toddler, and then he’s suddenly a child, and before you know it, he’s cramming for his finals in senior high and planning to go to college. There’s no way for you to retrieve all the lost time that you could have spent with your children while they were young, so no matter how busy you are, it’s important to get to know your children, to spend time together as a family, and to create memories of moments that will never come by again.
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