We’re told our twenties are supposed to be our selfish years we should travel and meet new people and find ourselves. I had just turned 20 when I found myself sitting in the Doctor’s office listening to a nurse tell me I was going to be a mom. My life completely changed.. for the better. Thankfully my child has been blessed with both mom and dad and we try our best to keep the “co-parenting” as smooth as possible. After 3 nephews, countless parenting books, and watching Teen Mom re-runs nothing really prepared me for my own child.
Everyone’s experience is totally and completely different, but I decided to list some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far in my adventure in mommy-land:
1. The love is free, everything else isn’t. I know you’ve heard time and time again that kids are expensive and there’s a solid truth in that. From diapers and formula to daycare and birthday parties, it adds up really fast. Find a budget and stick with it! It’s taken me five years to figure out what works best for me and now that the Tooth Fairy is starting to make weekly visits that budget is looking pretty good.
2. Your circle of friends becomes smaller. Especially if they have no kids and are single, trust me some of them will only remember you when they need something. They will continue to go out and live the night life while you stay in and watch a cartoon marathon. Take it from experience, your life becomes much better when your circle is smaller and the only people in your life are those who truly care about you.
3. It’s ok to take some time for yourself. I’m sure everyone has a different opinion on this, but you have to take a minute or two for yourself. There is a BIG difference between ditching responsibility and having a moment to breathe and some can’t distinguish the difference. I want my child to look back and remember the time I spent with him and not having to spend another night at grandma’s or with a babysitter while I went out to a club and rolled in at 3 a.m. It’s just not worth it.
4. Dating is a process. But really. It’s hard to find time to register for next semester’s classes let alone go on a date with someone. You’ll become really good at distinguishing who genuinely cares to talk about your child and those that are just trying to earn brownie points. The way I look at it is we’re a package deal and I will never ever jeopardize my son’s happiness or risk someone making him feel like baggage to just have a boyfriend. When you start raising a child, you have to raise your standards.
5. Your interests will change. I’m the type of parent that gets excited to go try out a new theme park or go see the newest movie that comes out. I have Nerf gun wars in my spare time and draw pictures of dinosaurs that look more like stick figures. I love seeing my child smile and if that means playing Power Rangers at 6 a.m. then that’s what I’ll do.
6. One word, FILTER. Kids pick up on EVERYTHING! What you say, what you do, how you act. I didn’t really get the grasp of that until we were sitting in line at McDonald’s and from the backseat I hear “Come on people! Really, this is ridiculous!” I had to check myself and I still have to remind myself to use a filter, but try explaining to your child why they can’t use a word you just said 10 minutes ago. The struggle is so real.
7. You lose yourself, but find yourself in something better. Everything about me changed the moment I had A.J.. I had so much more motivation and ambition, I wanted to make him proud of me and still do to this day. I set standards for myself so that I could give him a future better than he could hope for and I work my butt off to provide that for him. I honestly can’t imagine life without him, I can’t imagine giving him only some of my time opposed to the best of my time. I’m far from a perfect parent and I make mistakes daily, but what I do know is that the love I have for my son motivates me to do better every day. He might be wild, rambunctious and 100% boy, but he’s my saving grace.