The Thing I Miss Most About Life Before Kids

posted by Andrea | 01/30/2014

snoozing with Nora

I’m just going to make a VERY broad assumption and guess that anyone who’s ever had kids has something (maybe a small thing) that they miss about their life before kids.

Not that any of us wish we didn’t have kids. I’m guessing most of us would say that overall, our life is better, happier, and more “full” with kids.

But… never-the-less, there is usually something we miss about our pre-baby, pre-kid days.

Right?

And I know what you might be thinking right now — that I miss a full night of sleep.

Well, you’re right, I DO miss my sleep (I figured it out and it’s been almost 700 nights of sleeplessness since Nora was born!)

However, a full night of sleep is not what I miss MOST about life before kids. 

Yes I miss the sleep

I miss that extra time with Dave

I miss free time to myself

I miss thinking my own thoughts for more than 10 seconds at a time

I miss pursuing hobbies that are simply enjoyable for me

I miss eating food when it’s still hot

I miss having a clean house basically all the time

I miss doing whatever I want whenever I want, without planning ahead and finding a babysitter

I miss leaving the house with just my wallet and phone

I miss going to the bathroom without a little person checking up on me to make sure I’m still wearing underwear :)

But believe it or not, the thing I miss the MOST about my life before kids is…

PREDICTABILITY!

I’ve actually gotten much better at this over the last two years (out of sheer necessity), but I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for me to live such an unpredictable lifestyle.

As many of you probably already know… I have just a teeny tiny bit of a Type A personality. And by “teeny tiny bit” I mean: “I’m extremely, majorly Type A!”

I make lists. I like order. I crave structure. I NEED predictability.

When I say I’ll be somewhere at 8:00, I’ll be there by 7:59 — no questions, asked!

I start getting antsy and twitchy when I don’t have a list or a schedule; and although I’m getting better at hiding it now, I can get down-right angry when big changes happen without proper warning.

I don’t necessarily think any of that is a bad thing, but it definitely doesn’t offer me much help when it comes to raising children — specifically my Nora :)

Oh yes, she is sweet as pie and cute as a button… but she’s also been quite a challenge for me (and Dave) — not only the sleeping and the eating, but also the fact that her life is totally unscheduled and we hardly ever know what’s going to happen next.

I realize that all children are somewhat unpredictable — but seriously, Nora is just the worst! I sometimes think how much fun God must have watching me try to parent this completely unpredictable child in my overly Type-A world.

I can’t tell you how hard I’ve tried to create some sort of structure for Nora’s life, but no matter what I try, I get nowhere.

After 26 months, we’re FINALLY to the point where we eat breakfast and lunch at basically the same time every day — which means I can actually schedule morning activities, appointments, and errands around those times to prevent hunger melt-downs.

This might sounds like a super simple thing — but with all the eating/feeding issues we’ve dealt with, it’s actually  a HUGE accomplishment for us.

There are a few things we’ve made progress on when it comes to creating some type of routine and schedule for our days — but for the most part, there is still NO way of knowing what our day will be like until we’re living it.

There’s no telling if Nora will take a nap or not, when she’ll end up going to bed, how many times she’ll wake up at night, how long she’ll stay awake in the middle of the night, when (or why) she’ll have a complete meltdown in the middle of a public place, or when she will simply freak out over something extremely small that I might not even realize.

Much of this is due to her sensory issues (loud noises, strong smells, a strange person looking at her for too long can all push her over the edge in a matter of seconds), but it’s still so frustrating for me as a parent to try plan even the simplest of days only to have everything blow up in my face, show up late, or cancel an appointment because of Nora.

It’s crazy how much anxiety it causes me on a daily basis — even something as simple as scheduling a dentist appointment, a play date, or a time for the plumber to come out becomes a challenge.

When might Nora be sleeping? When will she be the most relaxed and not get freaked out by a stranger in our house? When will she be most rested and willing to play with other kids?

Yes, sometimes I over-think these small decisions, but as a natural “planner” it’s hard for me NOT to over-think everything after 2+ years of being THAT mom with the screaming kid, or THAT mom who always shows up late, or THAT mom who always has to leave early (usually with a screaming kid), or even THAT mom who can’t ever socialize with the other moms because her kid is so scared of the other kids that they both end up siting BY the other kids to “watch from a distance”.

I know it will get better (it’s already better now that she can talk) but it’s still SO frustrating for me.

I want to be able to schedule something more than 1 day in advance and not have the plans blow up in my face.

I want to be able to say “you can count on me” and not have to back out at the last minute.

I want to be on time (or even early) for anything again.

I want to be able to leave the house without worrying how Nora will handle a strange place.

I want to be able to plan out my day and actually have that plan work out!

Simple requests if you ask me — but not probable.

And although we’re making slow progress, I fully realize that in less than 5 weeks, the new baby will throw me another curve ball and we’ll be starting over again with a new baby and a new “schedule” to work around.

Have I mentioned that motherhood sometimes makes me feel like a failure?

YIKES!

As I try to gain a little parenting perspective, look on the bright side, and not feel too stressed out about the lack of predictability in my life; I frequently tell myself that since Nora still doesn’t have any set schedule, she might be able to “go with the flow” a bit more when the new baby comes.

Her day won’t be ruined if she doesn’t get a nap (she’ll probably be thrilled!). If we go to a strange place, I can have her focus on “helping baby brother” to distract her from potential “scary people”.

She already told me that she can be my ‘special helper’ and ‘take care of baby brother’ — so sweet, I know. And I’m fairly confident that as long as we stay home or in a familiar place most of the time (which we try to do anyway) she will be extremely entertained by the baby — and might actually be somewhat helpful to me!

I can hope… right! 

Or maybe not :)

Yes, life will go on, I will survive, I will continue to learn how to “go with the flow” a little more each day, and I will be the best mom I can be to BOTH my kiddos.

I do NOT wish to go back to my life before kids — but every now and then, I do wish I could have a little more predictability to my days.

Maybe in another 20 years when the kids are moved out :)

What do YOU miss most about life before kids?

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59 comments

  1. Michaela

    01/30/2014

    I have six children, being a mom made me a better person as well and also made me more of a planer. But I would say the two biggest things I miss pre-kids is going to the grocery store and not feeling like I’m a momma duck with all her ducklings following behind her, and not having to repeat myself a million times a day.

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  2. Kim

    01/30/2014

    You have had a super challenging baby first time around. I hope that it is ok that I am still praying for an easier second baby.
    You are gonna love the “empty nest.” But, I won’t tell you how good it is. Yet, I wouldn’t have missed being a mama to our two girls for all the tea in China! They have enriched our lives and given it great meaning!

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  3. Katy

    01/30/2014

    I can only say from my experience, God/the universe/whatever you believe gives you what you need, not necessarily what you want. You and A your personality needed this child to shake you up. She is a gorgeous fantastic creature but yes, she has her own personality & will change you in ways you never expected. Having a similar experience with my oldest (“spirited child”) who turned out to have special needs, I encourage you to keep talking/writing and keep a healthy relationship with your sweet husband, take time for yourself and remember it is all going to turn out just fine. It may not be the motherhood experience you envisioned but
    It is a gift which will open your heart and deepen your love, compassion and understanding of others. You will be tired, that will not change… but you will be thankful for this gift in the form of a beautifully complex little child.

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  4. Tara

    01/30/2014

    Oh yes oh yes. I don’t think it matters what type of personality a mom has and what challenges her child has…children are our most sanctifying tasks on earth. I have found in my time as a wife and mother that God is using these beautifully difficult people to humble me and bring forth strengths that are not my own.

    It is when I have poured out myself and come to the end of my rope that God has become very real to me and His strength has been made perfect in my weakness. I can honestly say that since having children, I have learned to interact so differently with God. I often find myself laughing over His sense of humor and I understand a little more clearly the depth of HIs love for me as HIs child and creation.

    There are so many promises in the Bible about the work God is doing in us, about what we can do through the power of Christ in us, about how trials bring us perseverance and maturity to bring us to completion. God has promised us every thing we need and that He will work every situation for our good when we are called according to His purpose. I have learned in the most difficult times of mothering that when I lean into those promises and into His resources, I am not only encouraged, but I get a little preview of the victory He is bringing to me in HIs time. I know I’m preaching to the choir on all of this, but it is very fresh in my mind and heart right now.

    Only a month ago my 16 month old son was in the PICU at a nationally renowned children’s hospital. It was a time of great introspection about what I had once found so very difficult. You know what’s more difficult to handle than an unpredictable life with challenging children? A child on a ventilator with a mama who is helpless to put breath into his lungs.

    At those critical life and death moments, you begin to see so intensely how much life is a gift. The beauty in anything that encompasses breathing and even the opportunity to communicate at all with our children is something we take for granted. Even the very difficult days and behavioral issues etc. become beautiful and sacred.

    Praise God we are home and my son is out of danger for now. But the honest truth is, we live in an unpredictable world and I’m finally coming to grips with a lot of things I’ve never been able to let go. A messier house, a more predictable life, well I miss them, but I’m finally able to find deep contentment in the sound of my children arguing and tantruming. Because that fight inside of them is a tangible sign of life. Real, good, vibrant life. And if they are alive and in our care, God isn’t done doing His miraculous work in their lives or in our lives as parents.

    Carry on mama. All of this is forming you into an amazing warrior for God’s glory. Everything you gain and lose in the process is all part of His master plan to shape you into the woman He created you to be. I’ll hang in there with you on those difficult days and trust that everything I lose and gain is also for my good and for His glory. Blessings over you!

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    Joanna Reply:

    That was such a powerful and beautiful response!

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    Nicole Reply:

    Your words are true and opening to the mind.
    Thankyou

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    Jan Reply:

    Andrea..re-read the 2nd paragraph of Tara’s response..spot on..You know Jess,well after 27 yrs. we still are challenged, will never be empty nesters…but that’s ok..God has a different plan for us…He has changed us..I too always wanted everything perfect but leaning and talking daily to God was the only way,He allows events in our life to fit His plan..Embrace that,don’t worry about what people think..they are not walking in your shoes! Enjoy those babies,it goes by fast!

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  5. Rebecca

    01/30/2014

    Isn’t it interesting how different everyone’s parenting experiences are? My son is about a month younger than Nora and it kills me because there are times he wants nothing to do with me, to the point of crying sometimes when I come in the house or enter the room. He really prefers daddy over me and it kills me cause I love him so much but he just seems to rather I not be around sometimes. And you have the opposite issue of Nora wanting you all the time. Parenting…not for the weak at heart!

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    Marisa M. Reply:

    Rebecca — I am going through what you’re going through and I just wanted to reach out and tell you I understand. I don’t know how to get through this but I know I must. Just sending you a big hug of understanding.

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  6. Marisa

    01/30/2014

    Thanks for this–I needed it today. I’m a first time mom of a 7 month old and I’m running out of the new-baby motivation which somehow made the sleepless nights and crying days easier when he was younger. Now it’s just old and exhausting and I feel I ought to have mastered it by now.

    I miss headache medicine. I gets lots of headaches and occasional migraines, but I haven’t taken my medicine since I got pregnant with him. In that respect, I look forward to his being weaned.

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    Janelle Reply:

    Occasionally, I get a migraine and if I take two extra strength Tylenol + 1 cup of regular coffee, that seems to do the trick and take it away. My doctors said to give that a try. Chiropractic adjustments also have helped. It is not a daily thing, but once in a while. Praying that those headaches will subside!

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  7. Monica Good

    01/31/2014

    I wish the replies had the “Like” feature.

    You ladies are all awesome. I enjoyed reading all the comments!!!!

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  8. Colleen

    01/31/2014

    Our first (a daughter) was quite an anxious handful, but when our second (a son) came along he sparked a special “something” in her. Although she still held onto many of her old habits–no need for sleep, picky eater, reluctance to play/join with others, etc–there was a sort of calm that came over her. I guess there’s no other way to say it than she “lightened up”. I wish that for you and Nora as you welcome her new baby brother.

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  9. Amy

    01/31/2014

    Andrea,
    Hang in there.
    Yesterday, I had a colicky baby who NEVER slept but cried 24 hours a day. I was THAT mom you speak of. We couldn’t even go to church, a store, anywhere. I think she had sensory issues that were never diagnosed, I just kept thinking it was my fault somehow. Today, I have 5 children and the colicky baby is a thriving 18-year-old off to her first year of college. It is really true what they say: “The days are long but the years are short.” I have had MANY meltdowns over those hard days. But it does go all too fast. When you’re in the trenches you can’t imagine getting out, but my youngest is 4 and I wish every day that I had another baby or three and I was back down in the trenches.
    You’re doing great, keep doing what you’re doing and
    God bless you.

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  10. Christy

    01/31/2014

    I COULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS.

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  11. Brittany

    01/31/2014

    I’m not yet a mother. But I will admit that I miss the predictability I had before I married my farmer/volunteer firefighter. The weather dictates our time together. I can plan a date for Friday night, but If the weather’s good, he may need to be outside working. He gets fire calls in the middle of the night, or while we’re eating a nice meal. All that said, I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s. But I am definitely getting stretched beyond my regimented self…

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  12. Marisa A

    01/31/2014

    Yesterday Ruth Soukup from livingwellspendingless.com posted this from her blog that she had written a few years ago: http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2011/01/11/my-life-lesson/
    Sounds like a very similar situation as to what you are going through. Thank you for sharing your heart!!

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  13. Christi

    02/02/2014

    The picture of the baby doll with stickers all over it made me laugh out loud. What a hoot! You obviously have a sense of humor, which helps get through those unpredictable moments. I can’t think of what I miss before I had kids, but I can tell you what I miss now that they’ve grown up: having them around.

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  14. Nevele

    02/02/2014

    I miss alone time.

    I used to take my bike to a local trail and ride alone. Back then, I rarely saw another person. I could just be alone with my thoughts. I enjoyed that so much. It got me out of the house. It was good exercise.

    *sigh*

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  15. Sallie

    02/03/2014

    My daughter was high need although not to the same degree as yours. She also strongly dislikes loud noises and commotion.

    It truly does get easier. Caroline is almost seven and a half and life is SO MUCH easier. When she could hold a conversation it became much easier. When she became a bit more independent it became easier. I would say right around age five we started feeling like we got some of our life back. Each year we have felt that way even more. It really does get easier. I remember feeling at times like my life was over and I would never get to do anything I wanted to do again.

    I don’t know what your plans are for schooling, but I’m guessing Nora would really benefit from homeschooling and probably a relaxed homeschooling approach. If she has sensory issues she’s going to find a traditional classroom really challenging. I say this as a former elementary teacher and current homeschool mom. My daughter would not thrive in a traditional classroom and I’m guessing Nora might struggle as well based on what you’ve written here. Feel free to stop by my learning site linked in my name. I write about our relaxed approach to homeschooling. :-)

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Sallie,
    At this point, there’s basically no way I would ever be interested in homeschooling Nora — just because I know I personally could NOT handle it :) Plus, Dave’s a teacher so he’s pretty “pro school”.
    It will be 2.5 years yet before we even need to think about school and a lot can change in that time. We’re pretty confident that she’ll thrive in a school setting once she get’s used to it — but we’ll just wait and see when that time comes!

    So glad to know it gets easier though!!

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  16. Olga

    02/18/2014

    I can definitely relate to this post, Andrea. I miss the predictability before kids. Although I love being a Mom and am so thankful to have little ones part of our family, it is very unpredictable. Thanks for writing this. It’s very encouraging to know that I’m not the only one:). I love the pictures in this post. Nora is adorable.

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  17. Michelle

    03/17/2014

    First child with sensory issues, eating issues, muscle disorder, fear of everything under the sun? Check.

    Second child who was the most colicky child on earth who I thought might actually kill me? Check.

    Type A momma who cried through every meal and PT appointment and hospital stay? Check.

    And now? My kids are 7 1/2 and 5. And we are making it just fine!!!! They sleep. They eat (at least enough that I don’t cry all the time). They LOVE school. We have been on trips. We can do things. I am occasionally alone. And if I can make it, so can you.

    Baby steps, momma!!!! You can do it!!

    And I, too, miss the sleep!!! And showering without a small face peeking in who needs something!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow!! Thanks for sharing a small part of your story Michelle. I know I can do it — but 7 1/2 and 5 still seems SOOO Far away for me :)

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  18. Nicole

    03/17/2014

    Andrea
    You are doing fine. God has given you this blessing cause he knows your strengths and weaknesses. We try so hard to be the perfect moms, but that’s just it we are not and will never be perfect(only Jesus & god is perfect). Being aware of your weaknesses are gonna help you to overcome many things. Let your worries and anxieties be given to god (lay them at the foot of the cross) and he will sort it out for you. Sometimes looking at what doesn’t work out is gods way of protecting you from something else.
    **lesson I’ve learned is sometimes feelings can be deceiving** let gods grace guide you.. Just as you are frustrated with not being able to plan life in your home is just like god having a plan for us and we get sidetracked.. You are blessed
    Try to find another way to use your Type A personality that will benefit your need for structure but still be enjoyable to and satisfying to your family and social life..

    You are amazing .. Don’t doubt your a super mom and don’t let what others say with their eyes and facial expressions bother you .. They have their own roads to walk..
    Keep up your greatness ..

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  19. Mary Kaufman

    03/17/2014

    I know it’s hard to imagine it now, In about 13 years (which will pass by so quickly you will hardly believe it) you will be fighting Nora’s busy schedule for some mom and daughter time. Also you will look back on this time and hardly remember those sacrifices. Try as hard as you can to enjoy this time. Also make plans for all that free time post children. It will be here before you know it, and you will find yourself trying to figure out what could possibly fill the time previously filled with caring and worrying and crying with laughing with those beautiful
    Children that you miss SO much! BELIEVE ME you won’t want to go back, but it’s looks prettier backwards than it did going through it forward.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Mary — and I appreciate that you admit that I won’t want to go back :) I’m SOOOOO sick of people telling me I’ll miss these days and wish for them back again. I highly doubt that. Yes, I might miss the cute things Nora says or the warm baby snuggles, but I will NOT miss how extremely exhausting these long, longs days are. I will not miss never, ever sleeping through the night.

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  20. Stephanie

    03/18/2014

    Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In ALL (emphasis mine) thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

    Psalm 55:22 “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee:…”

    These verses are constantly in front of me during thos time of denying myself for the good of my children. Only when I become selfish do I become frustrated. Being a mother is one of the most selfless callings, and when I am selfish I become angry, bitter, and frustrated. When I remember my calling and who gives me that calling, not the world, doctors, the president, or even my husband, but God, then I fall down in complete reliance upon Him for strength. When I fight to do it myself I fail. It is not easy, but as you say, we need to realize there is no such thing as perfect.

    Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengeneth me.”
    Psalm 118:24 “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

    Prayers for you as you struggle with finding God’s balance for your life.

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  21. Naomi

    04/06/2014

    I know this an old post but it totally resonated…. I also have a 2 y.o called Nora with mild but evident highly reactive senses (just like her father). It’s exhausting… Like you said, wouldn’t swap her for the world, but I miss bring able to read a book in an entire sitting, staying up late and falling out of bed as late as possible to start my day. Oh, and drink a cup of tea while it’s still warm… How I miss that. The predictability is not so important for me, but quiet is! Oh to have a quiet non-nagging day…. Or morning.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — how crazy that we BOTH have 2 year old Nora’s with high-needs and sensory issues! Thanks for your comment (on both posts)… I think you’ll see by the comments that you are definitely NOT alone! Good luck with your Nora — I’m sure we’ll both make it through eventually :)

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