I’m not an experienced/expert parent by anyones measure. My son is a mere 5 months old, yet I feel like a different person. Anyone who has had a child will probably tell you that life changes dramatically after having a child, and your overall perspective on life changes along with it. The way it changes is not easy to put into words, but I am willing to give it my best effort.
1. You are no longer the center of the universe.
For the first 30 years of my life, everything was about me. What toy did I want for Christmas? Where did I want to ride my bike? Which college did I want to go to? Which girl did I want to date? Did I want to go to the bar with friends, or take it easy for the evening? Every decision in my life (barring some important post-marital decisions) had primarily involved my own desires. Once I had my child, all my decisions shifted to what would be best for him. It’s something I should have realized, but I never considered.
2. Your child will make you a better person.
I wouldn’t say I’ve been a bad seed in my life, but I certainly haven’t been perfect either. I don’t believe anyone really is. What I do know, now, is that I want to be a good role model for my son. I am focusing on making good decisions with my health, my career, my marriage, and so on. I realize it’s important for me to lead by example, and as a result, I end up feeling better about myself.
3. You will become closer with your family.
My son is the first grandchild for both my parents and also my wife’s parents. They cherish him just as much as we do. It’s been a great benefit to have them close to us. They aren’t next door, or even in the same town, but they are there for us to help care for him as we need a break from it all sometimes too. Parents and siblings (in most cases) I expect would help out with parenting and you will (also in most cases) be spending less time going to the bar and more time seeing your family for the football games on Sunday.
4. Time is a limited resource.
I have aspirations of writing the next great iPhone app, building a website that scales to 1 million unique visitors, reading a stack of books, renovating my home, checking out all the latest restaurants and movies. Prior to having a son, I certainly could have made it my goal to do all those things. I realized (quite abruptly) after having a child, that my decisions in life would have to be made based on priorities. I would have to pick a few things that were very important to me, focus on those items, and put the rest on the back burner for another day. It simply (in my opinion) wasn’t possible to do it all and still care for an infant child.
5. Your kid does give back to you
The first weeks of my son’s life were very one-directional. It felt as though all I did was feed, comfort, and change his diaper. I lost sleep, entertainment with friends, time for myself, and time with my wife. After a short amount of time, my son started smiling and cooing at me and it made me realize what it has all been for. My son makes life fuller, makes me a better person, and has been looking forward to the future with a positive attitude. Some people will joke that kids just take and take (toys you worked hard to pay for, food you took a long time to prepare, vacations you spent a lot of time planning) but really, they do give back. They just do it in a way that may not realize they are doing.