December 4, 2008


I don't have children, of course, so I obviously have no personal experience to speak from, but it's one of my biggest pet peeves when people say how I'll never be able to do anything again - no reading, no traveling, no cooking, no clean house - once I have children.

My life won't be the same, you say? Absolutely - I'm sure you're right. But virtually every one of my friends in Austin has at least one kid and in most cases more, and I see what their lives are like.

Am I destined to become fat, poor, stupid, and too busy to do anything but change diapers the moment I have that first child? The families and mothers I see around me suggest that this is not the case.

The women I know are beautiful, maintain lovely homes, cultivate hobbies and skills, are well-read, well-educated, and full of fun and joy. Are they perfect? Of course, not, but they reassure me that I won't become some drooling idiot who can't remember how to hold a book or is too overwhelmed to ever take a trip.

In the last year, Ralphie has taught herself to take and edit some of the most gorgeous photographs I've ever seen and start doing professional shoots. Also, her house is always very clean. She throws parties (which I invite myself to). And, uh, she's not fat.

Although I read a lot, Kayla probably totally outstrips me (not mention she reads books that are actually geared toward adults. . . my brain can hardly fathom that). Plus she does envy-inducing house projects, blogs, and throws parties that make me long to live next door to her.

The Lauritzens have us over to play games frequently and often host small parties and nice dinners. They do many many fun things, all with two very small boys in tow.

Jodi works as a part-time lawyer, while expecting her fourth child.

And as for never traveling again after children? My parents took five children on a ten day east-coast trip when my youngest brother was only a few months old. My in-laws have taken six children to Europe for 8 weeks, with an infant in tow. Sure it's more expensive and difficult than it is for us to pick up and go right now, but it's not impossible. Kristi is driving with her two children nearly 1500 miles. She can do it. I can do it.

Across the internet and my own community I see women starting businesses, following their dreams, traveling, reading, writing, cooking, creating, and loving life, all while being fantastic mothers. I could write a post fifty times this long detailing all the ways I see this happening all around me.

So I just can't bring myself to believe the nay-sayers who tell me my life will be over when I have kids. Certainly it'll be challenging and I may not read 150 books a year, but I refuse to accept that I'll never again watch a non-cartoon movie or get on an international flight or go out to dinner with just Bart. The evidence around me makes such beliefs impossible to hold.


  1. Well said, my friend. Well said.

  2. I think a lot of it has to do with attitude and personality; which with yours, you will definitely keep going and doing and learning and growing (and I venture, stay skinny all the while : )!

    See, I think I've maybe read three books this year--- but I doubt I would have read more than that if I didn't have kids : ). I am very much looking forward to taking my three young children to Boston next if only I knew somewhere to stay...hmmmm.

  3. I do WAY more stuff now that I'm home with Wes than I ever did while working. Theoretically, I should have less time, but I neglect him just enough to do fun things for myself. And I don't feel guilty one bit.

  4. People who tell you that are ridiculous. My best friend just took her 9 month old to the Bahamas with their entire family. My other friend just had her second baby and is having the time of her life being a mom. Almost all of my friends are married with children and very rarely speak badly about it. They love it. Of course their are concessions, but your life is what you make of it. If one choses for motherhood to be a difficult process, then it will be. If one is fun and happy and choses to make it a loving and interesting process, then it will be. I think you have every right to be annoyed with these people. Isn't there a Silverstein poem about how we shouldn't listen to the musn'ts?

  5. Thank you for this post! I can't believe how negative and selfish some people can be!

  6. I agree with Merrick, very well said. I just had my first baby in October and after I recovered physically, I am doing the same things I have always done before! Does it take a few more minutes to get out the door- sure, but not much! But Ryan and I have taken Hailyn to movies,shopping, on a recent four day trip which was a blast, to the sand dunes to ride four wheelers, all the same things we've done before! I love how eloqunetly you put it- life does not END when you have a kid- it just enriches your life and you can keep doing stuff even with a baby- people told me to get all my traveling 'done' and to enjoy camping and playing 'while I still can' and 'I'll never see my husband again' Ryan and I have still maintained date night every week- it makes you better parents to get away and we still see our friends and hang out- thanks for posting such an enlightening blog for all those nay-sayers. Oh, and I just finiished my second book since Hailyn's been born:)

  7. Excellent attitude. I agree!

  8. Oops, I hope I wasn't the one to open this can of worms. Your life is not over when you have a baby. It just changes.

    As for your husband knowing how to cook, etc, it is just nice after a particularly hairy day to have an extra pair of hands to help.

    With my first baby, I was able to do almost all the same things I had always done plus even a few new things. And, for several years, I actually weighed less after he was born than I did before I got pregnant.

    However, when I had my second child, my other life did kind of stop. I was ten years older and hadn't been feeling well, so I got tired easier. Because my daughter also had some health problems, her care took more of my time. And, even with exercise, I never lost the "baby fat" from that pregnancy.

    My point was not to discourage anyone from having a baby - just the opposite. Things will change, but it will be a WONDERFUL change.

  9. Babe, you know birthin' little chillins don't have nothin' to do with brains full of puddin'. We is what we is.

    And how come you ain't never on tom?

  10. Life is different with kids, but BETTER :)

    You have the right perception!

  11. It's just all about time management and interests. Oh, and having a supportive husband helps, too!

  12. I do have to add, though, that I'm having to learn a new style of 'adjust and make do'. That's not fat and boring, though.

  13. Just don't come over to my extremely messy house today! :) Thanks for the ego boost, it has been a rough week of trying to "balance"--but I wouldn't change my crazy life for the world!

  14. Amen, Beautiful!

    p.s. P Terry's again tonight? :)

  15. I think what makes the most difference is financial situation. I mean, there are fun things to do when you don't have a lot of money, don't get me wrong. But I suspect a lot of people associate the pinch on finances that often accompanies a stay-at-home-mom and/or extra mouths to feed with the actual presence of children. If you have money to take them on trips, hire babysitters, and take a little longer to do things, then all is well! Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the times I feel "limited" by my new life is either because of added expense, or because I married a fuddy dud ;) Not directly because I have kids. Whenever I want to do something fun (like go to Japan for a week) it's M I have to convince. I think he's just not an adventurer. That being said, I agree with TheMoncurs (Krista is it?) I think I'm a much more interesting person now that I have kids because I have more opportunities to explore new things.

  16. Well, I have a kid and 2 step kids. So I went from no kids to 2 kids to 3 kids all in about 2 years.

    What I tell people is that your life doesn't change, but your priorities do. A baby is so helpless so when they need to eat you have to do it and all kinds of other things. My wife and I do things, but it just takes a while to get back into patterns. My wife is also a PhD student so she' really busy but still has time to do things with us and me and all that.

    Your life doesn't end, it just gets busier. Somewhere around 10 they really start to do their own thing. But you want them around and it's not like bad relatives or anything.


  17. I think it has a lot to do with attitude. If you think that your life is over and you can never go to a museum again, then you won't take your little ones out. But if you figure that the only way they'll get used to going out is by going out, then you'll start them on the habits early.

    I agree with Gretchen, too, that finances can make a huge difference. When I was very small we only had one car, so even though my mom worked hard to have us doing stuff at home, we didn't get to do as much outside the house as she would have liked.

    But yes, I agree with you. Your life does not end because you have kids.

  18. I'm not a parent yet, so obviously I have little to no authority on this subject. I agree with you and most of the other commenters though. I think motherhood is what you make of it. If you choose to let your kid watch cartoons all day because it's easier than going out, then yes, you will probably start to stagnate. If you're willing to put in the extra effort to get the kids dressed, loaded into the car and to the museum, library, park etc., then not only will you have more variety in your life, but you'll raise happy, adventurous, intellectually curious children.

    One of my professors on study abroad took her kids with her whenever she led a trip. I think her five year old knew more about museums and art than we did.

  19. As a mother of twins I have to add my two cents. My life is a complete 180- but it isn't all bad. But it's easy to think that way on the tougher days/months. My life has changed for the better and the not-so-better.
    I love staying home with the kids, but I have to work pretty hard to maintain my sanity. I also have more opportunities than I did when I worked all day- I have more freedom in that respect.
    Everyone has their own story- I feel a little tied down at the moment with the traveling thing- our first cross-country was an 18 hr. nightmare. But anyway, it's nice to be optimistic. I think all the women who you reference are trying to do is prepare you for the hard times- and help you enjoy what you have now. I wish I would have enjoyed more things about my pre-baby life. It isn't the end of life- just the beginning of a new hybrid.

  20. Well said! I just think that it's all about attitude and what you are willing to do. I also know some of my co-workers use having children as an excuse. "Well, I can't go to dinner b/c I have children." Huh??@

  21. Another 2 cents...

    Having time/energy to do the things you want to do isn't just something you have to figure out when you have children. Working full-time (or going to school) is enough to make you sit down and think about what's important. When you go to work at 8am, get home at 6pm, immediately make dinner, eat, and then take off for 2 hours for another responsibility, you get to thinking your life may have gotten away from you. So you still have to decide what's important and make time for those things.

  22. Thank you for writing this. I needed it.
    Even though I don't have kids either, I tend to get caught up in the nay-sayers and am scared of that phase. I both can't wait for it and am content to not be there yet. TMI, but really--thank you.

  23. ok first of all, LOVE this post! seriously! i couldn't agree more!

    i remember all the CRAZY non-sense i heard before having taylor, but now i realize that it was coming from women who were just plain unhappy and had given up on life.

    it SO does not have to be that way! my advice to any of my friends that get pregnant is NOT TO LISTEN TO ANYBODY!

    i remember your parents being excellent examples to you [and the rest of us for that matter] and your siblings of continuing to learn + being passionate about life!

    i want taylor to see me excel at things, and to see me doing things for myself, as well as our family!

    you and bart will be amazing parents to your children, and you will go on trips + dates [without kids!], and it will be awesome!

    i'm glad you're not buying into the nay-sayers!

    i heard something a while ago + it's always stuck with me,,, if you don't take care of yourself, you'll have nothing to give to anyone else. SO TRUE!

    k, longest comment ever.
    thanks,,, LOL, i needed that! :)

  24. i love my life now! no, it isn't over because i have 5 kids! granted, i can't do as much as i would like, but i wouldn't change it for the world. i don't even remember what it was like before i had kids. i must have had them because i was bored :) just kidding!! you will make a great mother and as long as you take time for yourself (when the time comes for you to have kids) you will be totally happy! but now i have to go...i have a screaming child!! oh the joys! love you janssen. and i absolutely love your posts!

  25. Janssen, It is a sacrifice to have kids and your life will change drastically. You may gain weight, you may read less, you won't be able to go out and play as much, you may be stuck at home, you may not want to party at all, and you may not care as much about your looks or various other things that seem important at this juncture. Who cares?

    That little person will be the center of your life and you'll be forever changed and you won't ever look back. As you know, it's one of the main reasons we exist. You'll love it and you'll be an outstanding and wonderful mom if and when it happens. Believe me, it is the main thing in life and you'll be forever happy, even if you become a chubby, homely little lady....which, you won't.

    On another note, you should become another Stephanie Meyers. You have the ability and the experience to do it.

  26. Your life can change in a nanosecond. Never forget that.

  27. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject. (You probably don't remember me...I was one of Bart's "freshmen" in 2004...We hiked the 'Y' together...)I stumbled across your blog today and I am so glad I did!

    Anyway, I appreciate your post. When people find out that I have been married for two years and I don't have kids yet (*gasp!*) they usually reply with something like, "Oh, well take your time, get everything in you want to now, because when you have kids...your life is over." It makes me angry people actually believe that having kids means the end to the world as I know it. I mean, what kinds of experiences have they had that make them say that because I surely don't intend on stopping my life just to bring others into the world. I will still cultivate talents and skills. I will still learn. I will still exercise. I will still be social. And on top of all of that, I will provide a happy, healthy environment for my children.

    So thank you Janssen, for saying what so many women/mothers/future mothers needed to hear.

  28. I think that some women adjust to motherhood differently than others, depending on a variety of factors, including financial stability, help from spouse and extended family, and health/recovery. I agree that it's sad when women feel trapped by their roles as mothers; I imagine they're disheartened and overwhelmed, and had no intention of feeling that way.

    Personally, my sweet sons have enriched my life beyond measure. There are definitely days when the thought of running errands is completely daunting, but I don't feel that I've lost myself in becoming a mother. Some of my priorities and interests have changed, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

  29. This post actually has assuaged a ton of fears I have about motherhood. I am terrified of becoming the, how did you say it? "Fat, poor, stupid, and too busy to do anything but change diapers." It's not true, all Mom's are not defined as such, so, from one non-mom to another, Thank you for this post.


  30. came back to read your post a second time. LOVING the comments! you seriously said what so many mothers/future mothers needed to hear.

  31. My life changed big time at one, and again at three. (Two was cake!) I echo a lot here about priorities, changes, money, less mobility, but still being yourself.

    I think what I'd like to add, however, is that women need to be really careful about thinking they can "have it all." No matter how awesome a time manager you are and how committed you are to yourself AND your family, there are still only 24 hours in a day. Even your awesome friends, no doubt, have days when they feel like they are lucky to be out of their pj's by noon.

    Motherhood has mostly taught me that you have to meet people where they are, and your kids come wired to think and react a certain way. I've learned what is worth power-struggling over and what is better to let go. I'm much better at taking things just a day at a time than I used to be. I'm also learning, with three small children, that much of what I really love (hiking, reading, writing, spending time alone, racquetball, unstructured hubby time, scrapbooking and so on and on) has to be moved, accompanied, prioritized lower. . . you get my gist.

    I love my three boys. I would not trade them for anything I could ever be offered. But I would be totally untruthful if I said that these dear ones are a part of my life without sacrifice. I HAVE given up things to have them. Is it worth it? I think so or I wouldn't have done it--at least not twice.

    Nothing will teach more about sacrifice than mothering. But nothing will teach you more about charity either. Like all of the greatest lessons the Lord would have us learn, there is a price to pay.

    I hardly got off the couch until my first baby was four months old. I wondered many days if I would ever accomplish anything ever again. I was depreseed, exhausted, in pain, and overwhelmed almost to the point of not being able to function. That baby boy is seven now. One day I'll blink and he'll be on a mission. My prayer as a mother is that I will be there every step of the way for him and that he will know that he, and his brothers, are first in my heart ahead of all the other stuff that I used to use to define myself.

    As children come to your family, you will find the balance too, but there will be days when you wonder if what you are really is buried somewhere under mountains of poopy diapers, laundry and chicken-nuggets-again-for-dinner. The answer will, of course, be YES, but you'll have to reconcile that inner self with all of the outer trappings of motherhood that may or may not be all that instinctive.

  32. Wow! Perfectly said! I agree that people telling me "You'll never be able to do that once you have kids..." is so frustrating. Yes, all my time won't be "mine" like it currently is. But as a mother you have to maintain that balance between being a mom and being who you are as an individual. Plus it sets a great example to your kids of loving to learn and to have interests in your life.

    Again, very well said!

  33. Dang, that's a lot of comments.

  34. Janssen-sorry to add yet another comment to the multiples you already have-but I am so grateful that you posted this. I am one of two women in my family ward that doesn't have any kids-and man-it is interesting the comments that I get from outsiders. All I can say is-Thank-you thank-you thank-you and AMEN!
    Love you!


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