“Just wait until you have a baby.”
“You’ll never have time for (insert: friends, traveling, yourself) again.”
These were the comments I heard repeatedly in my newlywed, pre-baby period of bliss from the many well-meaning mothers in my life.
And they were not all wrong.
My life is not the same now as it was a little over a year ago. When my baby girl came kicking and smiling into this world (I swear she smiled minutes after she was born), I knew then that nothing would ever be the same, and that I would never be the same. And looking back at that pre-baby period now, I know that those advice-giving mothers were trying to prepare me for what lay ahead and to make me appreciate my precious time with my husband before we brought a little life into the world.
However, this string of “just waits” and “nevers” led me to entertain a bit of a pre-baby panic, as I pictured my life as I knew it coming to an end. I spent the last few months before my due date frantically checking things off my “pre-baby bucket list.” I just about killed myself traveling around the country to visit friends and family and seeing sights I’d long wanted to see, scared that this was my “last chance” and that I would miss out on these opportunities for good if I didn’t take them now.
I got photos of my seven- and eight-month pregnant belly dangling over the edge of the Grand Canyon, bumping into tourists in Times Square with my best friend, and next to my husband at the beach. Check, check, check.
Lest I give the impression that I wasn’t excited for my baby girl to arrive, let me assure you that I was giddy as a child going to Disney World for the first time. That excitement simply came with a large side of anticipation and fear that my social life, my travels, and my hobbies were all about to be stifled.
Fast forward a year, and I am happy to report that the only thing that has actually been stifled is my fear—my fear of missing out on life in general.
Yes, I had a moderate to severe case of FOMO prior to the birth of my daughter, and my fears of missing out were only heightened during pregnancy. Fears of missing out on holidays with my family (who live across the country from me). Fears of missing out on a career. Fears of missing out on trips with college friends and trips with my husband. Fears of never leaving my house again. Fears of missing out on all these things.
However, having a baby has taught me two very important things.
01. I’m not missing out on life
My life is not over because I had a baby. A chapter of my life is over, in the same way that I closed a chapter of my life when I ended my single life to get married to my husband. But a whole new season of life is just beginning for me. Not only that, but this season has undoubtedly been my favorite one so far, bringing me so much more joy than I ever could have imagined.
I feel a whole new dimension and purpose to my life now that I am a mother. I am no longer living for myself, and for my husband, but for a small child who, quite literally, would not be able to survive without me.
I am embarrassed that I staked my assumptions about motherhood on what society told me it would be like, and on the series of “nevers” thrown at me—because as it turns out, I still have a life. I still have time for my friends. I’m still able to spend many holidays with my family. I still have a job (albeit I'm not working the same hours I worked before). I still have time for my hobbies (mainly, reading), and I have even discovered that motherhood has given me a new creative spirit to pursue even more hobbies.
And all of those travels I packed in right before I gave birth? They were not necessary (though I have no regrets), as I’ve done almost as much traveling this summer with a baby. I mistakenly believed that I needed to “do it all” before the baby came because I would never have the chance after she arrived. And yet, at only a year old, my daughter has already gone around the country with me.
And even though it’s certainly a different (read: harder) experience traveling with a baby, it’s been a joy seeing her tiny toes touch the ocean for the first time, having her meet new family, and watching her make friends with everyone on each airplane trip, bringing a smile to every single stranger and new friend she meets.
02. The things I am missing, I don’t even miss
The second thing I learned is: Yes, there are some things I am going to miss out on due to having a baby. And that’s okay.
Surprisingly, I’ve found that the things I am missing out on, I don’t really even miss. Take, for example, staying out late on weekends. My husband and I used to love going to restaurants, bars, or friend’s houses on weekends, staying out as late as we wanted because we knew we could sleep in the next morning. Our baby, however, does not understand the word “weekend” yet (or “sleep,” for that matter). Therefore, late nights are rarely an option, both because we have to stay home with her and because the idea of “sleeping in” is now a distant memory. And yet, we no longer feel the tinge of jealousy and the FOMO that we once felt when seeing friend’s posts out on the town on social media.
My husband and I have simply accepted that there are some opportunities, social or otherwise, that we will have to miss out on now that our primary concern is raising our daughter, and she is so worth it. I feel like these are the words that, more than anything, I desperately needed to hear pre-baby. I needed more people to tell me, “Yes, your life will be different, you won’t get to do some of the things you used to, but it will be so incredibly worth it.”
And so, mamas-to-be, or women thinking about becoming mamas someday, take heart that you are not alone in your FOMO. Your life will change when you become a mother, but like all areas of growth in life, it will be for the better. The last thing you need to be worried about right now is missing out.
Being a mother has not stifled my dreams or ruined my life. Quite the contrary, it has given my life a whole new purpose, making it easier for me to focus on what it is I want to do with this one beautiful life of mine.