I’m so glad I became a parent in my thirties.
Had I been one in my twenties, I’m quite certain I would’ve been a different kind of parent, because I’m a different person in my thirties than I was in my twenties. I see so many other moms in their twenties who mother beautifully and I just don’t know if that would’ve been me.
Sometimes I wonder if I would’ve had the patience I have now, although that is slim to none at times. I’m afraid in my twenties it would’ve been none to none. I’ve always been fiery and passionate, but now I have the self-control to rein it in. I can bend a knee and be calm in the middle of a tantrum storm. Part of me wonders if in my twenties, I would’ve been able to do that.
In my thirties, I was both overjoyed and overwhelmed as a new mother. But the overwhelming part took me by surprise. I had postpartum depression and distinctly remember this “death of self” feeling that sat on my chest. I can’t help but feel that in my twenties this feeling would’ve suffocated me.
Oh, and marriage. In my twenties, would I have had the presence of mind to understand that children rock a marriage? They just do. Having children sends it tempest-tossed out into the sea. Some marriages hit rocky shores. Get a tear in the side and can never recover. Some learn how to steer . . . better together. Would that have been me? Or would I have been foolish thinking I didn’t need this man when things got tough? In my thirties, I know what I have and am so thankful for it.
Sometimes I wonder if I would’ve had the same wisdom in my parenting that I do now. Would I have stood my ground too harshly rather than pick my battles? I don’t know. I can’t help but feel I would’ve been sucked into power struggles like a sudden rip tide that threatens to pull you out to sea. Now, I can see it for what it is and swim parallel to my child and help us both find a way out. All because I know better, now.
But of this I am sure: I would’ve had the same fierce love. That would not have changed. I would’ve still climbed heaven and earth for them. Still died to myself a thousand times over to become the best parent I could be. Still paced the floor with them at night. I would’ve still calmed their cries and soothed their tired, achy bodies. Still cuddled on the couch and have dance parties in the living room. I would’ve still placed their needs above my wants. I would’ve still felt like they were the most important work I would ever do. And maybe because of this fierce love, it wouldn’t have made as big a difference as I think sometimes.