Remember Who You Are
Early in our relationship, my wife and I lived in upstate New York. We had a spacious, 2-bedroom, ground-floor apartment in a good part of town for which we paid the princely sum of $825 a month.
For five years it was the three of us in that apartment. Me, my wife, and our beloved little bulldog, Gracie.
Both my wife and I had jobs that paid us comfortable salaries (Gracie didn’t work). Our living expenses were low, since we didn’t have kids yet, which meant that we had some disposable income on our hands.
We realized that we liked to spend our money on going out to dinner. This was right around the time that I discovered my love for classic menswear so we would get dressed up and walk arm-in-arm to our favorite restaurant. Happily, we were only about a mile from downtown and our neighborhood had ample sidewalks.
We had a ball! We would get so dressed up that my wife said we looked like Batman’s parents.
We went to that restaurant so much, our usual server would have two glasses of champagne ready at our table when we arrived.
What this tradition of ours revealed was that THIS was what my wife and I were. We were people who enjoyed a good meal and a good drink, but it was much more than that. It was our time every week and we cherished it.
But what did that look like AFTER we had kids?
This is often a really big issue for people when they suddenly go from childless to child…full?
They think that they need to leave certain parts of themselves behind.
But you don’t need to do that! Doing so will make you sad and resentful. Remember who you are and what made you happy before you had kids! You can still be the same “kind” of person, you just need to get creative.
In the past, it was easy for my wife and me to enjoy a nice meal out. We had no kids, so we only needed to make it back to the apartment in time to walk the dog. We lived in an area that was conducive for walking, which was great because it meant we could have a couple drinks. We didn’t have any kids, so we had plenty of extra dough every month for these kinds of indulgences.
But once we had kids, what did we do?
Well, now we live in a rural area and nothing is within walking distance (and we can’t get anything delivered). We also don’t have nearly the level of disposable income we did before the kids arrived. So, did we just toss that aspect of our personalities out the window?
We still have nice meals, but we make them at home and sit down to the table after we put the kids down for an early bedtime. We still get dressed up for special occasions like NYE, or “just because”. We have weekly lunch dates on Sundays where we share a charcuterie board while the kids play in their rooms or watch a movie.
We still have that time. We still connect with each other. We are still those people, it just looks a little different than it did before, and that’s ok.
Last Sunday, my wife and I sipped martinis and watched through the dining room window as the snow piled up on the driveway. The boys were puttering in their rooms, blessing Mom and Dad with a few moments of uninterrupted independence.
I looked at my wife and I said, “This is exactly what I want.”
So, my advice to you is this: don’t lose sight of who you are. If there is something that makes you happy, it’s the responsible choice to hold on to that thing. Your family needs you to be happy and well-adjusted. Sure, it might look a little different nowadays, but find a way to tap into those interests that bring you joy. You don’t have to give them up when you have kids. And honestly, you shouldn’t.
It’s no surprise that your life changes immeasurably when you have kids. Their arrival will change you in ways you can’t predict. But if something is truly important to you, it’s your responsibility to keep it close and not let it slip away.
You, and your kids, will be happier for it.