So I hear you have 99 problems, but a baby ain't one. I also hear you think that if you had a baby you'd have fewer problems. Honey, come sit and chat with your Aunty Jamie. We have so much to talk about, because that's just not how things work. Look, I get that kids are amazing and it is tempting to think they can make all the bad stuff go away. However, having some experience under my belt, I can tell you there are things I will never expect my baby to "fix" for me.
Between TV, movies, books, magazines, and that beautiful web of lies known as Instagram, it's easy to get an idealized view of what it means to have a baby and how it can impact your life positively, across the board. It's also easy to just look at these adorable little blobs of promise and think, "You know what? I love this little thing so much there is literally nothing that they cannot do or instill in me. They and they alone make everything better." That expectation, it should go without saying, a lot to put on another human being, especially another human being who can't control their bowels yet.
So when you feel that romanticized vision of parenthood giving your imagined future a sparkling glow that's just a little too sparkly, do what I do and remind yourself of the things having a baby definitely won't fix.
My Connections To Others
Kids have the ability to bring people closer together, but there's a catch. It only really works if the people are already close to begin with. So if you and your partner have a solid, healthy, secure relationship, your baby could very likely make that bond even stronger. What your child cannot do is bridge a gap between you and literally anyone, including (but not limited to) partners, parents, siblings, and friends.
My Sense Of Belonging
A baby isn't an all-access pass to a given social group. It's not like all of a sudden you have a baby and can instantly fit in with any other group of people who also have a baby. Being a parent doesn't give you instant kinship with other parents.
Parents are like any other people: some of them are cool, some of them suck, and whether or not you click with them is going to be dependent upon individual personalities and group dynamics instead of the fact you've all decided to reproduce.
The love of a child is amazing and all encompassing and magical. The other day my 5 year old said "I just love you so much, mommy! Forever and ever!" Later that night he told me he didn't love me anymore and he never wanted to see me again because I told him his favorite pajamas were in the washing machine and he couldn't wear them. Kids are fickle AF.
Babies? Babies spend way more of their time peeing on you than expressing anything resembling gratitude, much less love. Of course I know that overall my children love me, they just have no concept of steadfastness. They live in the moment and in some moments they hate me. That's cool. In some moments I think they're kind of jerks. My point is, if you want to be constantly and unwaveringly adored, babies are not the way to go. Maybe get a dopey but good-natured dog? A Golden Retriever, perhaps?
Clarifying The Direction I Want My Life To Go In
Having a baby isn't the same thing has having a revelation. Yes, sure, a baby can help focus you, in part because a baby puts certain constraints on your ability to, say, pick up and join the circus. However, those constraints can also severely complicate things. That's not to say you have to have a written-in-stone life plan before having a child, or that you can't make drastic change once you become a parent. I'm just saying don't expect your child to serve as some kind of sign from the Universe.
Providing A Fresh Start
A baby's birth isn't, like, a rebirth for you in and of itself. If you're trying to turn your back on a troubled or difficult past, you're going to have to work on that on your own. A baby isn't strong enough to keep those demons at bay. Hell, they're not even strong enough to hold their own heads up for the first, like, three months of their life. A child should benefit from the fact that they have a blank slate, and shouldn't exist to wipe yours clean. It doesn't work like that.
So instead of going to the baby store to pick up an infant (that's how it works, right), go ahead and go to therapy first. (In the long run it's actually a lot cheaper.) And hey, if you still have some work to do on yourself when you have a child (who doesn't, amiright?) that's totally fine. Working on yourself while simultaneously caring for a little one can be a positive experience for both of you. Just don't rely on the child too much on this journey. It's your journey.
My Sense Of Purpose
Having a child has been amazing. My kids fill me with pride and happiness and all that, but I don't depend on them to fulfill my life or give it meaning. That's a lot to put on a kid, right? If you expect your children to complete you as an individual, you start to hedge into that creepy, living vicariously through your kids, Toddlers in Tiaras mom kinda life and literally nobody wants that, not even the Toddlers in Tiaras moms (at least not deep down, as I have to believe that in order to maintain any sort of faith in humanity).
The Sense Of Not Wanting To "Settle Down"
Believe it or not, if you don't want to settle down to begin with, having a baby isn't going to make you want to settle down. It's just going to frustrate your sense of wanderlust and make you run the very real risk of resentment and negativity in general.
Even if you want to settle down, having a child doesn't destroy your sense of adventure. I don't want to travel the world any less now than I did before I got pregnant in 2010, I'm just even more limited in my ability to do so. My pregnancy was a welcomed one, and I'm deeply satisfied with the choices I've made, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I still feel the pull of other lives from time to time. I think it's normal and healthy for those feelings to co-exist and we do a disservice to family-oriented folk everywhere by pretending that a baby will make other desires vanish. That just leads to suppression, which has never helped anyone.
Getting Parents And In-Laws Off My Back
Because, honey, badgering you about having a baby is just the beginning of the struggle. Once your babe arrives you get to hear all their opinions on parenting, including but not limited to: what the baby should eat, what they shouldn't eat, when the baby should be wearing a hat, whether or not the baby needs a pet, and the list goes on. Also, there is the very real chance that they will pop their head in the delivery room, like, when you're crowning or something, to ask when you're going to be giving their grandchild a sibling.
OK, if I didn't put a huge disclaimer here to share that neither my parents nor my in-laws ever put this kind of pressure on me (at least not seriously) I would never hear the end of it (I love you guys, you're great), but in my experience if one's parents are willing to harangue them about something as personal and touchy as having a child, that's never the end of the nagging.
The Fact That I'm Getting Older
Babies don't stave of your mortality or serve as your legacy or connect you to youth culture as they enter their teen years. They're people, you're a person, and you're all aging. This is right and proper. Accept it, because fighting it will only make things worse.
Because if you feel you don't get attention now, go ahead and try to get even a speck of attention in the presence of an adorable child. Seriously, I've been referred to as "William and Gioia's Mom" several times now, and I don't see this trend alleviating any time soon.
Any Of My Perceived Shortcomings
Again: parents are people. Becoming a mother hasn't made me some sort of perfect, sainted creature. I still screw up on the regular. Here's a list of things babies fix: taking you from childlessness to parenthood. Here's a list of things babies don't fix: selfishness, general unhappiness, uncertainty, relationships, and literally anything else.
So, if you want something to come into your life and solve all your problems, go ahead and find a lamp with a genie in it, or swing by Diagon Alley to pick up a magic wand at Olivander's. Whatever you do, save having a baby for when your problem is that you want a baby.