It doesn’t bother me everyday. Mostly, I go on, business as usual, enjoying my children and the stage of life I’m living. Until it happens: a childfree friend posts to social media. A pinterest-perfect picture of her island backdrop vacation. You know, the one where they were sad to leave and actually felt rested when they got home? Only then does this measly, little thought creep into my mind: Did we have our children too early? Are our children causing us to miss out on life’s adventures?
Gasp! What a terrible thought to have.
It’s not that I don’t love my children. I do, deeply. Sometimes, I just wonder what life would be like without them.
There’d be less whining, less noise, less mess. There’d more sleep. More romance. Definitely more sex. We’d travel more, save more, drink more. Life would be more enjoyable. More about us.
Wait, hold the phone. That’s exactly why I’m happy we had our kids so early. We no longer focus on us (for the most part, at least). Because of them, we are able (albeit forced) to focus on something outside of ourselves. And while that is hard and involves an obscene amount of tantrums, it’s so worth it. We are better people, more aware people, because of our kids.
Instead of partying away with our age-mates, we are raising the next generation. We are raising children who care about others and teaching future leaders to see every race, gender, and creed as equal. Our kids have saved us from the selfishness and meaninglessness that often envelops millennial adults.
It would be easy to allow my mind to continue down the comparison path, and I’m sure we’ve missed out on some fun because of our kids, but nothing can compare to watching your heart walk around outside of your body. There is nothing more gratifying than hearing those babies giggle hard enough they struggle to catch a breath. No five-star vacation could trump stubby, baby toes digging into the grainy sand for the very first time. No Alaskan cruise could ever top the hilarity of babies realizing the mess they can make with a giant splash.
Sure, parenting puts a strain on our marriage, and we’ll have to work hard to maintain our relationship, but in the four years my husband and I were together before kids, nothing has changed us more or for better than becoming mom and dad. Nothing has made us softer yet stronger than having kids. And certainly nothing has made us prouder.
There are still places I want to see and passions I want to tap into, but because we started our family so young, we will have plenty of time to travel the world and find ourselves once the little people have outgrown our home. Aside from the hope of future plans, if I truly believe in the science of anatomy, then I have to believe that had we waited an iota of a second to conceive these kids, we would have totally different children altogether. That thought alone devastates me to my core.
This time of littles doesn’t last forever; in fact, it only lasts a few years. Each stage brings a new level of freedom for everyone. Each candle on the cake brings us closer to an empty nest. Will I one day regret a pointless, self-centered night of my pre-baby days? Probably. But I will never regret a single moment spent as an engaging mom to my beautiful children, even if having them delayed my dreams by a few years.