5.1
July 5, 2013

10 Things I’m Glad I Did Before Having Kids.

I might not be waking up this morning at a super cool yoga gathering, but, boy, have I been to festivals in my day.

Oh, Wanderlust.

I’m updated on the happenings out there in Colorado in part by a wonderful friend who made the trip from Ohio as well as, of course, by Waylon via elephant journal and Facebook—and I can’t help but have a little Wanderlust envy.

Still, I’m looking over at my daughter smiling and giggling at the Sing-a-Long dvd that she’s watching, and I’m momentarily mentally transported back to a few of the many adventures that I had before I became a parent—and to how wonderful my life has been.

Don’t get me wrong—my little lady is quite the adventurer herself, and I have no doubt that, as a family, we have better experiences ahead than the ones that are already behind (especially since, like my husband and me, she’s an outdoor lover).

Regardless, there are some things, both internally and externally, that I’m glad I’ve gone through before I figuratively (and literally) settled down.

1. Moved around.

My husband and I moved to New Mexico and fell in love with the mountains, the trails and the overall lifestyle of active living there. While we do still miss it, we missed our families more, so we left there for the Philadelphia area and then finally came home to Ohio.

Now, I’m not judging anyone out there who moves around with their children. For work, and for other reasons, this is part of many kids’ childhoods, but, I have to admit at this point in my life that I’m glad that I got my roaming itches out of my system so that I’m able to stay in one location without wondering if the grass is greener elsewhere. (Note: my discovery is that the grass is only as green as the gardener tends it.)

2. I recovered from my eating disorder.

If you’re suffering from an eating disorder of any kind, consider getting help if you’re considering having kids. A lot of your unhealthy behaviors will be noticed by your perceptive children even if you try to hide them, and, especially if you end up having a daughter like I did, then you’re putting her at risk for developing a poor relationship with food and her own body. 

3. Partied like it’s 1999.

I got a lot of rebellious partying out of my system in my youth, and I’m forever grateful for it. I don’t ever feel like I missed out on anything, and I hope that I’m able to relate to my daughter if she ever needs help navigating her own adolescence safely. Additionally, I don’t fear becoming one of those moms who acts like a teenager in her 40’s because she never got to be one.

4. Anger.

I’ll probably always be a moody, temperamental—okay, grouchy and fiery—sort. I have my moments, and I might always, but I have discovered ways to deal with my anger (exercise, communication, and getting in touch with my underlying feelings). Displaying unhealthy anger around children is a surefire way to light their own unhealthy fuse, especially if they genetically have your disposition. 

5. Solidified my relationship.

To outsiders, my husband and I often seem to have the perfect, storybook relationship. What many people don’t see, however, are the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into making our relationship happy and healthy.

Like anything worthwhile in life, good relationships take work, and I use the word work because that’s sincerely what it feels like when you’re hashing out make-it-or-break-it problems.

Sometimes, relationships aren’t meant to last, but, rather, are meant to be learning experiences for your next one. I know how lucky I am that I’m still in love with the man who I met as a boy when I was 14—but, again, we deserve to be where we are because we put the effort into getting here.

6. Self-love.

This slightly goes hand-in-hand with recovering from my eating disorder, but not completely.

I was desperately insecure as a child, and I carried around a lot of baggage into my early adulthood. Truthfully, it wasn’t until I began practicing yoga regularly, on and off of my mat, that I learned to finally love myself.

Bryonie wrote a piece recently on how moving through asanas on your mat can help you connect with that primitive spark within us (call it your soul if you want), and I can’t tell you how much I related to her story.

Another thing that’s helped me on my path towards self-love has been learning to speak to myself like I would a beloved child—with tenderness, respect and care. Would you talk to a little kid the way you do yourself sometimes?

7. Accepted my flaws.

So, yeah, loving myself is great, but part of being authentic and part of true self-love is owning your flaws—and then accepting them. Easier said than done, for me at least, but in my book this is necessary. How am I going to teach my daughter to embrace her own quirks if I don’t embrace mine?

One thing that definitely helps me in this arena is seeing my positive and negative qualities as flip sides of the same coin. Sure, I’m a hot head, but I’m also one of the most passionate people that you’ll ever meet. Yes, I might be overly talkative and analytical, but, conversely, I’m observant and animated. You get the idea.

8. Anything late at night.

This one is my hubby’s suggestion, and I totally agree. We have a difficult time doing anything past 9 pm because our toddler has a hard time sleeping (with anyone but her daddy). I’m aware that not all, or maybe not even many, parents have this as a concern, but for us—let’s just say that I’m glad I saw my favorite bands play countless times at concerts throughout the years.

In short, I’m glad that I stayed up and woke up late—because it might be a very, very long time before I can do it again.

9. Forgave.

Oooo, you can get into some sticky “let me tell you that you need to do” b.s.-type writing with a suggestion like this, but give me a chance.

I will not pretend that I can tell you how to forgive the people in your past that have deeply wounded you, but I can say this: the one thing that’s really helped me move out of anger, resentment and pain towards people and experiences in my life is my realization that I could not be who I am, as I sit here typing this to you, if it weren’t for these challenges.

Life isn’t fair. Good people get hurt, and some things are hard to recover from. Again, consider taking the first step towards emptying yourself of this ugly and unnecessary baggage—so that you have more room for the good stuff in life—by acknowledging the ways that you are actually better for having experienced these people or situations.

10. Stopped waiting for the perfect time.

My husband was still in graduate school when we had our daughter. Looking back, we both wanted to have a baby for years before we finally did.

I remember living in New Mexico, and a girl I worked with asked me what I was waiting for. “There’s never a perfect time. You’ll never have kids if you’re waiting for that.”

Oh, man, was she right. I’m certainly not advising that we all go out and irresponsibly bear children, but I am offering up that, for me and for my life, I’m glad that I moved past thinking that I had to meet certain criterion in order to have a happy family. (See my recent article on re-defining success.)

Life is complicated. I think it comes as no surprise that having children—or being in any type of relationship for that matter—is complex too.

I guess I can summarize this list by telling you that I’m relieved that I’ve accepted—and tamed—many of my own inner complexities before I even attempted throwing kids into this mix.

Because being a parent is its own intricate dance, and one that, as far as I’ve witnessed, never stops.

These days I still fantasize about going to events like Wanderlust—only now I dream about taking a tiny person as the best friend that I drag along.

 

Like elephant family on Facebook.

 

Ed: Bryonie Wise

 

{Photo: via Pinterest}

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Erna de Bree Jan 18, 2019 1:44am

Coming from some one who has 2 kids, 3 step kids, 8 grand kids, and living in a world of over population, do you absolutely necessarily need to have children, something that needs to be considered

kristasball Jan 17, 2019 3:57pm

What a funny article. I can’t relate to most of the list. A few things (the first few), maybe. I’m glad that this worked for you, but when I saw the title, I was hoping that it might be some useful information. Personally, I continue to work through some of these similar types of things. If you were able to “do” all of them before having kids, then kudos to you. I still go to yoga retreats and travel (without kids being the much-preferred way, as there are so many great things to see that I don’t want a kid nagging at me about being bored, etc.) Maybe I don’t do these things as often, but if I didn’t have an identity of my own (aside from being a Mom), I am certain I would feel totally unfulfilled (though am glad that I don’t have to compare one to the other.) If your journey of self-exploration ended when you had kids, then wow, lucky you!

Laura Deanna Jul 6, 2014 4:09pm

I feel this article is a personal story, not something to be followed by everyone.
Also some critique – Who calls another mother a "wanna be teenager" in their 40's since their youth got unexpectedly changed?
How sad. Life is all about accepting where we are, flowering where we are planted, and living in the moment.
You may want to revise it next time, from saying how you mean no offence to those who have had early children, to simply not comparing yourself to the lives of others. 🙂

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Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She’s also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.