Becoming Parents: What Really Changes

Welcome to the Parent Club -

People told me that having kids would turn my life upside down. Nothing would be the same after having my first child.

That is not wrong – life does change. Just not exactly the way they prophesized. Your still have the same friends and the same interests, too, and your ambition doesn’t just disappear the moment you give birth. But then I became a member of a club that I didn’t even know existed: The Parent Club.

Joining this club happens so suddenly. And yes, you get to know the world from a whole new perspective.

From “muffin top” to “social mom”

The following list is by no means exhaustive but sums up things I have learned over the past 18 weeks:

  • Moms with buggies greet each other a bit like bikers. They don’t wave but instead give each other a hint of a smile and carry out a quick check: How old is the baby? And how big is mom’s belly? You heard it here: Mommies are mean, too.
  • The floppy remnants of what used to be a firm baby belly are referred to as the “muffin top,” just like the excess cake that spills out over the top of the muffin wrapper. The point of postnatal exercise classes is to get rid of this muffin so you can feel like a “yummy mummy” again. But what takes Gisele Bündchen just three weeks takes 30 for the rest of us. Because we scarf down that muffin with our coffee after said exercise class. And we don’t have the same genes as Gisele.
  • People look at you differently when you’re a mother. People in their twenties throw me sympathetic glances and I’m now invisible to catcalling construction workers. And for the bankers who clearly don’t want to help yet another mom to lift a stroller out of an old Zurich tram, I’m their worst nightmare….
  • …unlike the dad! The moment a father holds his son in his arms, old ladies practically eat him up with their admiring gazes. The in-laws are impressed, too: So dedicated!
  • Such dedication is, by the way, precisely what I demand. And in turn what our relationship demands…and a lot of it. Here’s a little gag you can try out next time you meet young parents: Simply ask them if they “both” are able to sleep and then watch her face while he answers.
  • When you have kids, sleep is pretty much half the battle anyway. The dad normally sleeps like a baby. Or he has competitions with said baby: Who can fall asleep quicker? He always wins.
  • I’m not just a yummy mummy, but also a “social mom.” This is, by definition, a mother who is actively involved in social networks. I do this on Twitter, while other moms can be found in a multitude of online forums. And these forums simply cannot be avoided the moment you start asking yourself: “How do the other mothers actually do it?”
  • The answer: They do it much, much better, of course. Every forum contains at least one post by a blogging supermom whose sole purpose is to make her sister readers feel as small as possible by making comments along the lines of: “The (enter a stressful issue of your choice here) is just part and parcel of having a kid! Me? Well I (breastfed / cradled / fed etc.) MY child while doing a headstand until they were 18 and I NEVER complained….”
  • Like hell you did! Shut! Up! I mean it, shut your mouth! ZIP IT! Being a mom and dad is damned hard. No two ways about it. Suddenly switching from individual mode to “responsible-for-two” is difficult, and anyone who claims otherwise is just clueless. There’s suddenly no room in this world anymore for your egoistic self: It now has to compete with a new rival, someone whom you love so much more than yourself.

Being a member of the Parent Club makes you proud, scared and truly grown-up. Yes, life has fundamentally changed since we welcomed our son: It suddenly has so much more meaning.


This article was first published in the Berner Zeitung newspaper in October 2012. To comment on this post with a mobile phone please scroll aaaaaall  the way down to the bottom, thanks! We appreciate it! zu den Kommentaren


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