You Couldn’t Pay Me To Go Back To The Pre-Baby Days

shutterstock_135195434

Sometimes it’s hard to talk about the joys of parenting without coming off like a sanctimommy or upsetting the child-free people out there. Just know that when I talk about being single compared to being a parent, I’m talking about my own personal experience. If this doesn’t jibe with you, cool story, bro. This is just one woman’s humble opinion…

My husband and I went on a romantic getaway about a month ago to what we soon discovered was an incredibly hip college hipster town. (Did I say hipster?) I had a fantastic time because I’m not that old and lame just yet, but my husband and I were both feeling our age. We were easily a decade older than all the people at the bar, and we also got really tired and went to bed at 11. In short, it was a BLAST.

My husband and I were sitting outside sharing a secret cigarette as I watched a few young hipsters rush by on their way to the bar. Immediately, I was hit with nostalgia. I have so many great memories of dressing up and going out with friends and hunting for guys at the bar. I have so many memories of trying to get off work early and cashing out my last table and getting dressed in the bathroom so I could meet my friends on time. My early twenties were so much fun, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

But when I don’t look at my early twenties through rose-colored glasses, I remember I was lonely. I was hanging out with friends and going out to meet guys because it was fun, but also because I just didn’t want to feel alone anymore. This experience may be unique to me, and I am certainly not saying that all single people are lonely, but those days were plagued with loneliness and anxiety for me. I still had a good time, but it wouldn’t be accurate to say that those were the “best days of my life.”

Now I’m a mother of two. Being a parent is really hard, but though I’m a snarky parenting blogger, I really love most minutes of it. Parenting will change you no matter what, and thanks to this motivation for personal growth, I feel much safer, much more relaxed, and much happier as a parent.

Some days, I look back on my single days and miss all the awesome memories I have. But at the risk of sounding cheesy, I wouldn’t go back in time for all the money in the world. The best days are happening right now.

(Image: Peter Bernik/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
Share This Post:
    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      I also get nostalgia for my younger self, who had no real responsibilities. But I wouldn’t trade my life now to go back. I’m older, wiser, and I feel more comfortable in my life and with who I am. And my baby! Oh, I love that little guy. And my husband? Always happier when he comes home from work.
      I have more to do, and plenty of it isn’t joyful, just tasks. But I’m happier than I was. I think because I look forward to the future more now. Before there were more questionmarks, and now I specifically have things I’m jazzed about doing with my son.

      • rrlo

        The only thing that dampens my happiness now is the failing health of my parents – that really scares me. I am 32 (with fairly young parents) and I honestly didn’t expect to have to deal with it until my 50s. It sucks. Really really sucks.

    • Kendra

      I am still in my twenties, but it’s safe to say yours were far more exciting than mine. My twenties pre-baby and my twenties post-baby, look pretty much the same. The only difference is now I do everything with a child in tow as opposed to just on my own. But, I agree with your post concept in that my life now feels more fulfilled to me than it did before.

    • Valerie

      I totally understand where you are coming from. I am rarely pining for those days- I am honestly much happier now and that is only partly to do with my children. At 32, I am far better off in general than I was at 22. I don’t question myself as much and I have a lot more confidence. Sometimes it makes me very sad looking back at my early-20′s self and thinking about how hard I tried to please other people and kept my mouth shut when I should have spoken up. In all honesty, I would not trade my 30′s wisdom for my 20′s tits any day of the week. ;-)

      • Bethany Ramos

        I think that is a great point about the positive changes in our 30s only being partially related to being a parent. Being a parent isn’t the magical cure for everything, but it can help you to change for the better, if you want to. We are definitely BFFs. :-)

      • Valerie

        Obvi! Now when are we scheduling our mani/pedi/anal waxing?? ;-)

      • Bethany Ramos

        lololol I really want/need this girl’s day out!

      • Valerie

        Totes. I just got invited to a freaking Lia Sophia party. My friends are lame!

      • Bethany Ramos

        Ugh I got invited to an online mascara party, which is the worst sort of scam. Like, they aren’t even trying to pretend you aren’t being sold to in some virtual FB group.

      • Valerie

        WTAF? Only mascara? That is so odd.

      • rrlo

        My husband and I have an agreement to do everything possible to ensure each decade of our life is better than the last one.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Love this.

      • Larkin

        Yup, same here! I think a lot of it has to do with age/maturity. We don’t have kids yet (first one’s due in October), but I still feel like I am a much happier, more secure person now at 30 than I was in my 20s. I spent my early 20s in a super toxic relationship, and frequently miserable, so I honestly don’t feel like I really even STARTED to kind of hit my stride till I was maybe 25. And, while I had a blast hanging out and getting wasted with friends till 5 in the morning on a regular basis in my mid-twenties, I’ve honestly always secretly preferred quieter get-togethers, date nights, and ample alone time. Now that I’m 30, I feel like most of my friends have hit the same place, so we tend to do more dinner parties and movie nights instead of ragers, and it’s more socially acceptable to not want to be hanging out and partying 24/7. I’m also just waaaaaay more confident and happy than I was when I was younger. I found one of my old journals from college a while back, and was amazed by how completely miserable I sounded all the time. It was kind of depressing. Nowadays, I would describe myself as a generally very happy and content person… which is much more enjoyable. :-)

      • Elisa Probert

        Maybe it’s because I haven’t had any kids yet, but my 30s tits are better than my 20s ones were. MUHAHAHA

        I dunno, I think something happened once I got into my 30s…I found help for my depression/anxiety, met and married an awesome guy, FINALLY moved out of my mom’s house, and decided that I am content, even happy, in my line of work. In short…I guess I finally grew up.

        And thanks to a random stray dog tonight, I discovered that if danger ever threatens any babies of mine I am, in fact, a mama bear. I don’t think that particular pit bull will be trying to eat my chihuahua again any time soon.

    • Rachel Sea

      I think it has more to do with age than children. I feel much the same way about my life now. As fun as my early 20s were, between traveling for work, and a handful of wonderful lovers, and spur of the moment road trips, and watching the sun come up at the end of a night, I wouldn’t trade my life now. Steady, comfortable employment, and a committed relationship beat scrounging for rent money, and feeling alone in a flat full of people.

      • val97

        I agree with this. My friends and I were hot messes in our early twenties. I might have been the first simmer down a bit because I had a kid at 23, but we all eventually settled down in our thirties regardless of our life situations (children, married, single, etc).

      • AE Vorro

        Yes, I don’t think parenting is even relevant here, overall. The 20′s are really hard on most people. Becoming an adult is tough. Hooray for being older, wiser, and hopefully much happier, no matter what path you take!

    • Robotic Socks

      I think you’ll definitely miss the post-baby days.

      ##3 #wellesley

      • Bethany Ramos

        Nuuuuuuuu

    • staferny

      I’m feeling the same way, but no babies yet. We got the old crew together last weekend to go out to a pub, there were a lot of college kids there celebrating pre-St. Paddy’s day with green beer and shots. We shut it down about 11pm and the college kids were still going hard, I silently reminisced and then got over it when I remembered how not awesome it felt to wake up and not know where you were, just that you needed to find a bathroom to throw up in and a handful of advil.
      I love my scaled back life now, I’m ready to bring some kids into the mix. Except when I wake up in the morning, then I start thinking about how maybe I don’t want kids because I fucking love sleep, so much so that it needed that f-bomb.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Fucking sleeeeep!

    • Tina

      In reference to your very first line: please please please talk about the joys of parenting to us childfree (at least so far). Tell me how I’ll never want to go back and how it’s amazing. Whenever I’ve mentioned to people with kids that I might want to start a family within the next couple years all I seem to hear are the complaints of exhaustion, crappy diapers, crying and tantrums, no sex, no time to myself/losing myself to parenthood and forgetting who I am etc. Always followed by a “just you wait” or a sarcastic “oh the joys of motherhood”. Definitely not looking like anything joyous to me when I hear that from an outsider’s perspective. It makes me want to lock my vagina down. Of course everyone knows it gets tough, I’d rather hear about the parts that are awesome and make it completely worth it. It all actually made me reconsider having children at all at one point and I know a bunch of other childfree people who previously wanted kids that have been scared off completely. Articles like this make me happy to hear you are overall in a better, happier, more relaxed place after having kids. It’s such a refreshing point of view.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Thank you! I really am much happier — parenting is rough, but it has so many rewards along the way. If you are ready to be scared and challenged and come out better for it, you can so do this.

        People grumbling about life will always grumble about life. I would not change anything about where I am right now. Best to you! :)

      • Holly

        I don’t personally know anyone who has regretted having had children. There are times when it SUCKS, like when they’re sick, hurt, or like now, when my youngest (7) is going through a ‘drama queen’ phase. But the majority of the time both of my kids are a total joy and make me laugh every single day.

      • R.

        Hi, I know we’ve never met personally, so your statement still stands, but I absolutely regret having children. It’s no big, life goes on, everything will turn out ok for all of us. Husband’s happy, kids are happy, it’s a fine life really. There are certainly far worse fates. I’m not saying it’s this way for everyone. I don’t even think it’s this way for most people, but it is for me. I wake up every morning and just think ‘When the hell are your parents getting here to pick you up?’ and then…no one comes, because, duh.

      • rrlo

        My child’s face (especially when he smiles) is hands down the most beautiful and wonderful thing I have ever seen. It fills me with joy like nothing ever did before. That face alone is worth every little hardship.

      • KarenMS

        It’s so not that bad. Seriously. I have a 15 month old and while I’m tired a lot, it’s not all that hard. I have a good support system, I think that’s important, but I just don’t understand all the parenting drama.

    • Upsilon

      I completely agree. My early 20s had their place, but I wouldnt want that life now. Feel so fortunate to have a wonderful husband, good friends for life, and a baby on the way

    • Mhairi

      I have to say that becoming a parent probably saved my life. No joke. I’d been hospitalized for multiple suicide attempts and accidental overdoses, was deep into drugs and getting into a LOT of very shady and mostly illegal crap. I felt like I had no reason to live, because why bother, tomorrow would be more of the same. Having my daughter (and my wonderful partner) straightened out my head, which in turn helped me get out of trouble and gave me a reason to try again. So, for what its worth, I NEVER want to go back to the nightmare that was life before.

      • Bethany Ramos

        So glad to hear you are doing better. :)

    • Ddaisy

      Are you there, moms? It’s me, Idiot #2. I have a question.

      I’m 24 with no kids, and currently thinking I never want them. But I’m mostly sure that I never want to settle down in one place. Right now, I’m living in a shoebox apartment in Korea, travelling often, and happy as a clam. I only have six more months in my teaching contract, and then the plan is to head off to a new adventure in a new country, and so on. I simply cannot imagine living in one country for more than a year or two, or–heaven forbid–buying a house *anywhere*.

      For those of you who were childless at my age, did you imagine yourself settling down and being a parent someday? Or did your vision of your future change more gradually as it unfolded? Obviously, everyone is different, but I’m just wondering what the likelihood is that I’ll eventually get tired of being a rootless wanderer.

      On the one hand, it’s reassuring to me that you’re all saying your lives got better and you felt stronger, smarter, and more fulfilled when you hit your thirties. That makes me feel good about my future. But on the other hand, I can’t picture my future looking like yours. The idea of a house and a baby terrifies me. How much of that is a product of my youth (can’t see beyond the next 2-3 years) and much of it is my deliberate life choices?

      Please advise, based on your experiences <3

      • NotTakenNotAvailable

        Well, from the very opposite end of the spectrum you were specifically addressing…

        I’m four years older than you. Back when I was your age (she says as though we’re talking four decades instead of four years :p ), I moved from the city I’d spent my college and grad school years in and returned to my hometown of Denver. I love the outdoors-focused mentality here so much that I’d occasionally flirted with the idea of buying a house, since the economy was still hanging on by a thread and my part of town is still considered to be “up and coming,” with quotation marks for a reason.

        Fast forward four years, and while I still love Colorado, the capricious weather and my desire to move past the dabbling and take a full-body plunge into the film industry (FSM help my poor checking account) has me making arrangements to move to California when my lease is up in September. And to finally get around to addressing your question, even in what will still be a tangential fashion, one of the things I love about being childfree is that I have that freedom to chuck everything comfortable and take that risk with no concern about anybody’s well-being but my own.

        I think it does depend on your priorities, though–if the ability to move across the country or the world, or even just the knowledge that you have that ability, is valuable to you, keep on keepin’ on, and I’ll save you an air mattress if you need a place to crash! But I remember another currently childfree Mommyish commenter writing once that she had a deep-seated desire to snuggle with her baby someday, which has never been a desire of mine, deep-seated or otherwise. So while, again, I’m obviously not the best person to ask, my speculation is if you really, really do want children, either that desire will overcome your wanderlust, or (ideally) you’ll find a way to channel it in a way that’s beneficial for your family (I hear the State Department is a great employer!).

      • Jen Hassenpflug

        I don’t think you’ll actually know until you get there. If when you get there you decide a baby is not in your plans, then there’s nothing wrong with that, our species will still survive :). But for me, I was a bit of a hot mess before I had my son. I’m an only child, never been around kids, and really never imagined having my own kid, I believed I would be content, by myself, traveling maybe,I’d have a dog as my sole companion. Then after dating a guy for a short period of time everything changed. We had broken up by the time I found out I was pregnant. I was terrified, when I walked into the room for an ultrasound to make sure the pregnancy wasn’t ectopic, because I have some scarring from an ongoing problem with UTI’s since I was a teenager. Then when I lied on the table and the technician performed the ultrasound I heard a beautiful heartbeat that went at 118 beats per minute. It was so strange, I should have been panicking, but, I felt this overwhelming calm. It was a clam I never felt before, it was peace. I am now a single mother to a 1 1/2 year old and I wouldn’t change a thing. He is the light of my life, the strength of my soul, and my inspiration to grow. I could have never imagined it until it had happened.

      • Bethany Ramos

        The good news is that you definitely will get better and more comfortable with age, no matter what path you take. I really wanted kids and a family at 24 ONLY because of my own lonely past with family issues. Then when I met my husband, it made even more sense.

        My advice is that you will know when the situation presents itself to you if you should have kids – and you may never want to. But my biased advice is that if you get the chance, go for it. Again, not saying anything negative toward child-free people at all, but kids have helped to change me so much for the better. :)

      • Ddaisy

        Thanks, guys! I really appreciate hearing all of that.

      • http://www.ephemeraanddetritus.com/ koangirl

        Until last year I was like you, except I’d been living and travelling abroad for nearly 20 years, mostly single, sometimes not, but generally pretty content with my lot. It was a lot of fun. I had never been one to imagine getting married, settling down, having kids, buying a house, etc. They didn’t sound awful- I just had better things to do and I was busy doing them and learning a lot from my experiences. Then, at 38 whilst living in China, I met someone awesome and within a year I was really happily pregnant and married and still travelling (but not alone this time). It suddenly felt like the right thing to do- it was just the right person at the right point in my life. Now we have a newborn baby and I’m still living abroad and looking forward to my next adventures.

        In short, maybe you’ll change your mind; maybe you won’t. That’s fine. Mine was a series of readjusted visions of the future. Roll with what suits you best at any given time. I was just ready (at 38) to put down a few roots. I’m not sure I would have done it to this extent, however, if I hadn’t met the guy who I ended up marrying.

    • Lillith272

      So the author is comparing single life to life with two kids? Isn’t that a bit of an apples and oranges? After all, kids aren’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind for curing loneliness….having a partner is.

    • may1787

      I don’t really get the point of this article. The author had a sad life. Now she doesn’t because having a husband and kids make her happy. There are also millions of people that had happy lives. Now they aren’t happy because they have a husband and kids. The fact that its coated in “don’t get offended, this is just my experience” has the opposite effect for me and makes it seem like she really does think this about all single, childless people. I think this belong as a woe-is me on her facebook rather than here.