Sunday, March 28, 2021

The hardest parental adjustment? It's going from zero kids to one kid.

NOTE: I hope you don't mind me recycling this post from September 2015, but it's something I'm occasionally asked about by young parents and those who plan to become parents. I still stand by my assertion here.

I've heard it said among people with three or more children that having that third child was the hardest leap for them to make.

The argument goes that when you have one or two kids, there is always a parent available to address any child-related crisis that might arise. And that suddenly, with three kids, you're outnumbered. You switch from man-to-man coverage to more of a zone defense.

Which I suppose is true.

But hands down, the biggest jump is going from the state of being childless to the state of parenthood. It's that zero-to-one adjustment that is, by far, the most life-changing.

Right? You parents remember what it was like when you were rookies. Life before the first kid and life after the first kid could not be more different. Everything – and I mean everything – changes.

The speed at which you complete even the most ordinary tasks decreases exponentially. Just going to the grocery store requires an effort akin to climbing Mount Everest when you have a baby in tow. There are endless supplies to take along. Your diaper bag fills up the cart even before you start actually selecting items off the shelves.

The spontaneity that was once a feature of your young, carefree life is gone, seemingly forever. You don't just up and DO stuff. You plan. You figure out whether you need a babysitter. You schedule everything around feedings, diaper changes and naps (yours and the baby's).

One minute you're deciding on the spur of the moment to go and see a movie. The next you're plotting out your life in three-minute increments through the end of next year.

And you know what? It's wonderful.

I'm not kidding, it's awesome.

Yes, yes, it's exhausting and all. And I mean exhausting in every possible way: mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally.

But it's all worth it. Heck, it's MORE than worth it. I cannot describe to you the joy that comes when you're entrusted with raising a small human to adulthood.

It's work, but it's good work, you know? It's satisfying work. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be willing to donate major organs just for the chance to take a 20-minute afternoon siesta.

And you'll love it. Parenthood is the single most fulfilling and exciting thing I've ever done.

It all starts with that seemingly innocuous jump from zero children to one. It's a big one, but it's a fun one. Don't be afraid.

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