It took my sister becoming a mother to realize that I wanted to have kids someday.
Parents of the world: I finally get it.
I get why you’re willing to give up extravagant couples vacations to Paris, bar nights, sleeping in on Saturdays and boozy brunches. I get why you’re willing to take time off work to stay home and why you’re willing to someday pay crazy amounts of money for someone else’s education.
It’s because kids can be pretty awesome.
Until about a year ago, if you had asked me if I wanted kids, I would have said “maybe.” In college, I thought I never, ever wanted them. How could I give up my freedom like that? How would I travel? How could I be tied down?
Then, I met this guy I really liked—like, really, really liked—a few years ago. We’re getting married in June.
It wasn’t him specifically or the proposal that really kicked it, although I knew and respected that he wanted to be a dad some day. It was when his sister had a baby last fall. I’m an only child, so this was huge: I had a (soon-to-be) niece.
This baby is unbelievably beautiful. She’s cute, giggly and at six months old, already has a kooky, silly personality all her own. She also makes an excellent little space heater to cuddle on cold Minnesota afternoons—a lesson learned while watching the Olympics with her in my lap back last February. There’s nothing that feels quite as good as making her crack a smile or laugh, and truly, I can’t explain why.
I’m also thinking into the future—like, my 40s and 50s—in a way I never have. I’m already planning my niece’s teenage trips to visit us and thinking about how fun it will be to someday get to talk with her about grown-up things. I’m already thinking about how cool it will be when I can talk to her on the phone and pick her up at the airport when she visits. She’s given me a new lens through which to view life, and I dig it.
Granted, I don’t change her diapers. I’m not the one who takes her to daycare or who swaddles in her crib at night. I’m not there for every cry and scream like her mom is. I’m an aunt who swoops in, buys gifts and dotes on her constantly. But still, this taste of what parenthood could be like is tipping the scales toward wanting to be a mom some day. My sister-in-law and her husband are happier than I’ve ever seen them, and it’s all because of their adorable, blue-eyed daughter.
So, yes, parents: I get it. Kids are worth the time, money, agony and joy. And it helps if they’re super cute and fun, too.