Parents - how much did having children change your life?

I don’t have kids of my own - that I know of - so it’s one of the many facets of human existence on which I lack perspective. I know there are many fathers and mothers on the Dope - how much did you life change?

I’ve rated the poll from 1 (no change at all) to 10 (biggest change imaginable), based on the Holmes and Rahe scale - i.e., something I can relate to.

I chose 10 but it’s difficult to quantify really. Everything changed, though - on a practical, day-to-day level for a start. Then there’s the emotional changes - discovering new feelings and motivations, new fears, a depth of love I’d only suspected before. I almost wrote that the one thing that didn’t change was me, but that’s not true. I’m more patient than I was, I’ve had to learn to make plans, to be more practical and observant… there are all sorts of changes. Basically I described it to someone as feeling like a bomb had gone off in my life - when the dust settled I had to find out where all the pieces had got to, and get used to the new arrangements.

Lots. I’m not going to put a number on it, I just can’t, but a million tiny things and several very big things are different. When I think about the changes in my life, my head always immediately goes to going out on simple errands. Once upon a time I’d look in the fridge and realise I needed milk, jump in the car, grab some milk at the shop and head home again. 5-15 minutes, job done. Now… If no one is currently napping or needs a nap, I spend 15 minutes making sure they’re wearing appropriate socks/shoes/clothing, almost leave only to discover the nappy (diaper) I changed not five minutes ago is dirty again, go back, change it, strap two kids into the car, get them out at the shop, get them back in, get them out again at home. Once, I’d arrange a series of errands if I was going out to knock them all over. Now, I try to limit the number of stops I have to make on any outing because of the hassle of getting them in and out of the car.

I still haven’t figured out an effective way to pick up large parcels from the post office. If I carry the baby, I can’t carry the parcel. If I take the pram, there’s no where to put the parcel and I have to try to hold it and manage the pram at the same time. I drive past the post office hoping to see a free parking spot right out the front, and there isn’t one… I go home and come back later.

I spend much, much more time than I once did trying to figure out how to manage simple errands because my hands are never free.

I still recall the bygone days of coming home after work and looking forward to some relaxation time. Now I leave home and go to work looking forward to some relaxation time.

The biggest life change I’ve noticed is simply having far less leisure time. In its place I’m looking after and playing with children I’ve grown to love more than my own self. The cleaning up and tantrums can be exhausting and annoying but there are lots of great times too.

I chose “other,” because none of them quite fit, although “10” is the closest.

I assume you’ve been in a romantic relationship, right? Imagine you were talking to someone who never has. Do you think you could describe that love to them?

My love for my child is as different from my love for my wife as my love for my wife is different from my love for my siblings or parents. Being childless is a fine choice, but I think the love for a child may be something that someone who’s childless just can’t grok.

As for how it changed my life, the best answer is in Jonathan Coulton’s awesometastic song, You Ruined Everything.

I picked nine because it’s a huge change affecting every area of my life, but it’s not a bad change. It’s hard sometimes, but hard isn’t bad. It’s the good stuff, not the hard stuff, that has transformed everything.

I went through a really bad time right after my second child. It all came from the realization that I lost everything about me that I used to define myself with.

My job. I worked in theatre, I loved my job, but because I was on mat leave I was denied the chance to even apply for the only opportunity of advancement within the company. They hired someone with zero experience and basically the whole department quit because of it. Everybody who quit assumed that I would have been promoted and left when they learned who was hired.

My husband works lots of evening and weekends, so my job would need to be 9 to 5. Those jobs don’t exist in theatre. I am not trained in anything else, so I feel pretty lost right now.

My side job. I did a few set designs a year. Not enough to make a living, but enough to fulfil my creative side. I was pretty good, and was even nominated for an award for a design. I tried to do two designs this past year and they were complete disasters. This was because I couldn’t dedicate the time I needed to, and we had major childcare issues.

Hobbies. I love photography, but I haven’t had a chance to take pictures of anything but children for about 3 years.

Crafting. I have a lovely craft area set up downstairs, but I never get to use it. I am one of those people that loves to create, but kids changed all that.

Movies, I don’t know the last time I saw one in the theatre. Maybe Christmas?

So now I am trying to figure out new ways to define myself. I don’t want my whole life to revolve around kids. I love them, but I need more than one thing going on in my life.

Wow, that sounds really depressing. My kids are fantastic, I love them to bits, but I am just at a crossroads in my life right now, and having kids was the catalyst.

It was less of a change than I was expecting. Possibly because when it happened it was at a time in our lives when my wife and I were both ready for it - although if you had asked us we’d have probably said we weren’t ready…we’d probably never have said we were ready!

  1. Just like it said in the poll.

I picked 10 because nothing was higher.

We were married ten years before she was born and we are both older, so really >10.

A ton, I think, but I’ve never been an adult without a kid, so I can’t exactly compare. Everyone’s life changes a lot when they grow up and move out on their own and stuff.

I’m sure my life would have turned out a lot different if I didn’t have a kid though, but I don’t know how. At this point I know my biological clock would be ticking and maybe I’d be like desperate to get married or some crazy thing .

Until I had children, the world revolved around me, and by extension my wife.

Our children changed all that. For the first time I lived for another human being who was totally dependent upon me and my wife. And even when my sons became increasingly independent, they were still more important than any other humans to me.

Enormous shift from self centered and self satisfaction to outward looking. And that shift has colored my life ever since.

The options in the poll suck major ass, and reflect that the OP probably doesn’t have a kid, a spouse or a house, and was probably pretty goddamn lame/pathetic in college and/or high school.

If “Father of the extremely hot chick/dude you are about to nail grabs you by the nuts/tits and throws you out the best party you’ve ever been to, into the hands of the waiting constabulatory, who then beat you with nightsticks and verbally abuse you while your car gets towed, where incriminating evidence is planted to make the “bust of the century” and you get convicted and put in Max lockdown with a “friendy” cellmate of 6 foot 9, 300lbs of pure mustle and love on his mind” as an option, I woulda gone for that.

Except that doesn’t even begin to adress the financial hardship…

Other: the options in this poll don’t even come close to describing the life-changing event that is having a child.

What, you get out of the bed on the wrong side? I said in the OP I had no kids and your pathetic inferences say more about you than me.

If you don’t have kids, you don’t understand. Your poll is reminding people that they once were another person. You are no longer an individual when you have children. This is emotionally jarring, and I think his post just reflects that, not something that really reflects on you or your poll.

I don’t think I could go further than the hyperbolic ‘10’ on my poll, and have an [other] option too if none of it is comparable to the amount of change, to try and accommodate all views. Yeah, I don’t have kids which is why I started the poll, I wanted to know the range of circumstances that prompted varied changes.

So he (or she, I don’t care) could have voted ‘other’ and explained it like that. What I didn’t expect nor appreciate were crude projections on my personal life and the further implication that if you don’t have kids you’re some kind of sad loser.

Yeah, I don’t really get that part either. Sometimes I think people without kids are the real winners, and certainly are showing a lot more common sense than most parents. My kids are grown, so I’m a recovering parent. Maybe you just needed an ‘Infinity +1’ option for those still in the thick of it.

I have come to the conclusion that the childless cannot understand being a parent, you can’t. You think you can, but vicerally you don’t.

What is most shocking and unexpected was the perspective change.

I think Gatopescado’s post gives a momentary glimpse that having kids changes many things, including adding ‘angry’ to the ‘sad loser’ part.