My stepson completely changed my life.
Life changes when you add kids to the mix. Sounds like a bulletin from the Department of the Obvious, I know, but you never really appreciate how true it is until you actually have one around. Since becoming a step-mom, I have discovered a million little ways that my life is different, as well as a few big ways.
Take right now, for instance: I have had a cold for over a week that has now morphed into a mild ear/sinus infection. Last night, I felt miserable. In my child-free days, I would have come home, given the cats food, and stumbled into bed, dozing for the rest of the night.
Now that I'm a step-mom, I instead retrieved the boy from his after school program, made him dinner, helped him with his homework, got him showered, helped him use his neti pot, gave him his vitamins and tucked him into bed.
See how child-free me had a much shorter to-do list?
This coming weekend, the boy is attending a Star Wars birthday party at the local bowling alley. Child-free me would have spent the upcoming weekend possibly drinking too much, nursing a hangover and being an apathetic blob. Step-mom me will be attending the party at the bowling alley, not drinking at all and getting stuff done. There will be loud children, but there will be no hangover. This seems like a pretty decent trade.
I never would have believed I would prefer the life I have now, but I do.
My first marriage was largely spent partying. We had jobs that started in the afternoon, and nothing else around which to schedule our time. We were selfish, we were hedonistic and, now that I look back with 20/20 hindsight, we were unhappy. Leisure was our goal and we achieved a little too much of it. It wasn't healthy.
My husband now is a better match for what I want to be.
We have jobs that start bright and early in the morning, we have a child who requires a schedule and attention, and we have a bedtime that is fairly consistent. I am a more focused person and I have more direction. I have learned to be less selfish. I thank my stepson as much as my husband for that.
In no way am I saying that you're a total slacker until you have kids, and that once you've got 'em, things magically fall into place. Not at all. Some of the most driven people I know, the ones with the most discipline, have no children and don't plan on it anytime soon. I also know parents I wouldn't let cat-sit for me.
I'm not even saying that a pleasure-driven existence is bad in and of itself. If that's where you're happy and it works for you, enjoy. I just know that, for me, my life has been vastly improved by the addition of a child whose care is entrusted in good part to me. To be responsible for his well-being has made me, well, responsible. That's something I never was before.
So yes, life changes when you have a kid. It changes in big ways and in ways that you don't even notice right off the bat.
Do I get to be as self-centered, as wild, as carefree as I was before? No. But I would take a Star Wars bowling party over a night at the bar any day.