It is a mammoth question. Among life’s biggest, really. If you’d asked me even a year ago, it would’ve been staggeringly impossible for me to answer.
Is it worth it? That’s what a friend wrote to ask me recently.
She was inquiring about babies and whether taking the life-altering procreation plunge — one that involves thousands of soiled diapers, regular bouts of agonizing high-pitched cries, many, many sleepless nights and an entire overhaul of life as you once knew it — is all really worth it.
She asked that I give her the nitty, gritty truth.
Of course the answer expected of any good mother goes something like this: ‘Oh my god, yes! Becoming a mom is the best decision I’ve ever made! I wouldn't change it for the world!’ spoken in a nauseatingly chirpy voice.
While I do believe most moms mean this, what they leave out is equally important — that motherhood is grueling and taxing and your days will seep together so much that there is very little differentiation between a Monday and Friday.
Only those I count among my closest female friends have admitted how rough motherhood can be. We talk about the hard moments candidly, such as when our babies are restless, irritated and inconsolable for such long stretches that we’re amazed we haven’t pulled out every last strand of our hair or resorted to curling up into a tiny ball and hiding out in a corner.
In general motherhood circles however, these realities are rarely discussed.
So, in a stream of consciousness email, I told her the truth as I saw it.
Here is what I wrote:
“I can tell you this: The love is insane. I feel it in the pit of my tummy, and throughout my entire being. It is crazy and unimaginable. I do mean unimaginable because in my conscious living breathing life, I've never known anything as strong as this.
It is hard work. Life changes in every way. The adventures are different, they are new, and in many ways, it's like getting to experience childhood — and feel that childlike spark — again.
Many of my friends have told me that having a baby has put tremendous strain on their relationships. So think about that and make sure that you have the right connection, bond, and support for parenthood. I have an incredible partner, but I tell you, if I didn't, it would be more stressful. And it is stressful.
Not having solid sleep takes its toll, but also it's unlike any job you've ever had because you're there to take care of someone's life. This small being is completely dependent on you for health and survival, so the emotional investment is always there, whereas at a job you might be able to 'phone it in' some days, or take a lazy day.
The poop really becomes funny and nothing to stress about. There is a lot of it and it will leak, and you will get it on your hands and clothing and maybe in your hair.
It's funny how much you end up loving this little creature that all the things you might think would be a big deal just aren't (that said, some of it is still revolting).
We are having so much fun. We had a really rough start as many new, first-time parents do, and now we've hit a magical stride.
Is it worth it? I can't imagine not having our son or any kind of world without him now. It’s individual though. It's a big, big deal, as you know or you wouldn't be doing due diligence by asking. I can only say it has been worth it for us. It's a cerebral decision as much as it is a biological one and both of them need to line up.”
What I didn’t include, but should have, is that parenthood is as unpredictable as a runaway train and as thrilling as a rollercoaster ride. You will lose yourself and discover yourself in equal measure, and you will learn what you’re made of.
And, just in case I didn’t make myself perfectly clear, choosing to become a parent is, without a hair-strand-of-a-doubt, the best decision I’ve ever made. I wouldn't change it for the world.