I’ve witnessed a lot of life transitions lately. Pursuits of higher education. Friends having babies. People getting married. New jobs. I have personally experienced all of these new starts and I know the challenges they bring. Still, I watch my “new parent” friends adjust every aspect of their lives to keep up with childrearing and I am, although not surprised, astonished. I wonder again (as I did when I was there) how such a little person can consume so much time, space, money, energy and love. My girlfriend and I recently admitted to each other that when we watch wedding ceremonies now we want to embrace the unencumbered romance of the moment, but we can’t help thinking, “they have no idea what they’re committing to.” There’s a line in the novel “Eat, Love, Pray,” where a stranger in a Laundromat watches the exchange between the main character, Elizabeth Gilbert, and her new love interest (although at the time she hadn’t admitted to herself that she had fallen). The stranger simply said, “Oh baby, you are in so much trouble.”
The funny thing is people don’t want to know they’re in trouble. If I said to someone thinking about having a child “Oh, you should really think about that. I mean are you ready to lose more sleep than you ever get? To spend more money than you can make? To give up the ability to be selfish and pursue your individual identity? To love so deeply that you now have a million more fears in life?” they’d probably back away slowly and remove my number from their phone. Or maybe they’d say cheerfully, “Of course! And it’ll be so worth it.”
And so I don’t say that. Instead, I listen enthusiastically because this is a special time in their life. I encourage their naiveté because they aren’t really asking for my “wisdom.” This is part of life’s adventure. And frankly…I’m glad I didn’t know how much “trouble” I was getting into when I made these choices. My greatest life joys are my marriage and my two children. And while the sacrifices were large, the rewards from those naïve decisions remain exponential. And what would life be without a little adventure, anyway?