I wasn’t sure I would ever be ready to be a mum.
I have always loved the idea of having children. I grew up with a sister and a small group of friends with big families. We went on a ton of vacations, visited extended family interstate often, celebrated every single birthday and, as I got older, family life only became deeper and more tight-knit as we worked through the throes of adulthood together. I knew I wanted to have my own children one day: two, and preferably girls (mainly so I could forcibly pass on all of my beautiful barbie dolls to them).
From there, my story is very traditional, which I know is a rarity these days: I met my husband, we dated for what felt like an eternity, and went through trial and error while, by the grace of God, coming out winners every time.
Then, the year after we got married, I became aware that I didn’t particularly feel excited about having children.
It wasn’t ruled out, I would remind myself. It was just that the idea was super exhausting and sacrificial, and why would I opt-in for that? Like, by choice? In hindsight, I would say that my mindset was just the ramifications of long-term dating, saving, sorting, growing, changing…we never had that first hard year of marriage, because we managed to drag out everything into the light over an intense seven year dating period. So, getting married was a rest period for us.
But then the years passed; two years, five years, and I still wasn’t feeling any different. There was no biological clock ticking for me. Kids were a good idea, family was the goal, but that was a situation for ‘future me’ to deal with.
Then one day, I remember sitting in our favourite cafe in Melbourne on one of our regular cross-country trips, and I had the quiet revelation: “oh no, I am ‘future me’!”
So what does it look like to be ready for a baby that you know you want but you’re not sure when? Because all I had known and had learnt of motherhood up to that point was the following:
1. Kids can be so cute.
2. Kids can be so awful.
3. Parenthood is freakin’ hard.
4. You won’t ever sleep again.
5. Your body, as a mother, will never be the same again.
6. You will become a spout of walking cliches, such as, “Ahhh remember when we had sleep/money/sanity/time/avocado on toast?”
7. People liked being parents regardless.
Now, when you’re tossing and turning about whether to jump into parenthood or not, this is not a desirable list. It doesn’t make me want to give up my current, chilled, easy existence for the life of unsurity and chaos I was being promised.
But I was told, over and over again, the same piece of advice: You may never feel ready. It doesn’t mean it’s the wrong time for you. So, with the peace of God and as ‘not ready’ as ever, I jumped; I was pregnant not long after and gave birth to my first baby last August. A sweet, premature, dark-haired, wide-eyed little lad, who will inherit all of my beautiful barbie dolls.
And just recently, I realised: the list. It’s all true. Every single dot point is accurate.
But don’t despair, fence-sitters. I have a secret: I have finally figured out what they don’t tell you. Or more eloquently worded, if it’s said, what nobody believes because there are literally no words that can explain the truth behind it. Mums-to-be, procrastinating mums, unsure mums, budget-scouring mums; this piece of advice is the one that you will want to read:
None of it matters.
Oh my goodness, not any of it matters, not one bit of it. I was the dubious money-counter, the logical wife of good reasoning, the lady of luxury and sleep-ins and brunches, and I am here to tell you that none of it matters when you are HOLDING THE MINIATURE HUMAN YOU GREW WITH YOUR OWN BODY.
We don’t truly understand it until we dive in and do it ourselves, but the sacrifice, the hormones, the long nights that beg to be over, the problem-solving, the lost/new body shape, the cliches, the days that roll together into one never-ending period of time, the learning, the tears, the lack of avocado on toast with a hot coffee to consume at my own leisure, the vulnerability and the exhaustion…it cannot come at a better trade-off.
And you know what? Forget about sleep deprivation and post-baby body; I make the real sacrifices, folks. I watch kids television now. I know every lyric to every Small Potatoes song that has ever existed and Anthony from the Wiggles is my bae. I can hold my bowel movements for hours. I always share my last piece of hass avocado. I start eating dinner sometimes as late as 8.30pm. I sacrifice my clothes budget so I can buy him cute tiny human clothes. I get up at 6.30am on the weekend. THE WEEKEND. And if I get one giggle out of him, one cuddle or just one smile… it is all worth it.
It’s okay, I can tell that I haven’t convinced you.
I know that only because, up until August of last year, I would have had a laugh too, and maybe gagged at the thought of it all.
Yet, now I count it as the most wonderful job I have ever had.
Motherhood was the best decision I ever made. Don’t be afraid of change. Jump, and you’ll be surprised at what takes a hold of your heart. And trust your mum when she says you’ll thank her one day. She’s right.
Kat lives in Perth, Western Australia and is pretty happy with her dandy life of 30 years. She is married to Andrew, who is a freelance graphic designer, all-around cool guy and now dad to their ridiculously adorable little boy.
Kat is a manager of a cafe, with a background that looks like a bag of assorted mixed lollies – administration, finance, selling yoghurt, image consulting, making coffee, and account managing. She loves Jesus, reading, drinking a decent cup of coffee, writing and cooking.