Mastering Adulting Is Hard Enough… Then You Become A Parent

AUTHOR: Rebecca Ray

As parents, we put a lot of thought and energy into raising our kids. But what about us? How do we raise ourselves… As parents?

That’s exactly what I’ll be exploring as I join LiSTNR’s Feed Play Love podcast in a special new 12-part series, Parenting The Parent.

My grandfather used to say to me that he reached his ‘adult age’ at 24 and stayed there. He said, “My body gets older, but my brain stays at that age.” I didn’t feel like I reached my ‘adult’ age until I was well into my thirties. There I was, finally finding my feet in the world, and my wife and I decided to have a baby.

BAM. Parenthood unlocked.

Okay, it wasn’t quite that easy given two women + baby-making = science (and $$$$).

I thought I was doing alright at being an adult. It turns out that becoming a parent offered a mirror to all the parts of myself that did not have their shizz together.

As a devoted dog owner, I don’t buy the ‘you don’t know what true love is until you have a baby!’ rhetoric. However, I do acknowledge – both as a clinical psychologist and as parent to one son – that the transition to parenthood is profound and undeniable.

The shift is life-altering across every area of living. Perspective-shaking. Resource-grabbing. Body-transforming. Emotion-intensifying.

Creating a life that you are now responsible for nurturing, shaping, and loving for the rest of yours is not for the faint of heart. You will meet parts of yourself that you didn’t know existed. You will be stunned at your capacity for heart-led expansion. And you may be shocked at changes in your lifestyle that seem a little less than convenient.

Boozy lunches with the girls, day spa visits, and yoga classes first thing in the morning are replaced with paediatrician visits, snack planning, and an excessive amount of time wondering where you left your keys/phone/scrunchy (yes, you’ve returned to wearing scrunchies because they are easy #wedon’tjudge).

Your commitment to sleep-ins has been replaced with a commitment to the never-ending usefulness of baby wipes. Couch-cuddling-Netflix-binging with your significant other has been replaced with hard eye rolls as you internally compete at ‘Who’s-The-Most-Tired.’

Gazing into your baby’s eyes fills you awe. It’s beautiful. Wondrous.

And it’s also overwhelming, anxiety-provoking and inescapable. If anything is ‘all the feels’, it’s becoming a parent.

When everything is new, life feels shaky.

You don’t recognise yourself (or the hormones flaring through your body for at least 12 months or more after birth, and longer if you’re breastfeeding). You don’t recognise your relationship (why doesn’t your partner just know what you need?!). You don’t recognise your schedule (will you ever be able to leave the house on time again?). And you certainly don’t recognise what people mean when they say that ‘You should really take a self-care day’ (with a baby? What?).

Your life is now divided into time BB (Before Bub) and time AB (After Bub). Struggling with the transition is entirely normal. Adjustment to life with a little being in your world can take anywhere from weeks to months to a year or more, depending on what you were expecting, how quickly your mental and physical health recovers, and the quantity and quality of support you have around you. It can be especially tough if you feel isolated and/or are navigating parenthood solo.

You and your baby will take time to learn each other. If you have a partner, you will both take time to adjust to your relationship expanding to include a little one. We can’t rush this process. But it is worth remembering this: no stage of our life is perfect. Good and not so good parts exist as part of every life experience.

Go gently on yourself as you adjust to this new life role. I’m betting that you’re doing much better than you think.

Take a listen to the first episode of Parenting the Parent on Feed Play Love below:

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