My Hardest Life Transition (So Far)

I have heard many friends talk about how their hardest transition was from single to married (had to learn compromise, teamwork, etc.), or from one kid to two (having to learn to prioritize needs among children), or from two to three children(no longer a one-to-one parents-to-children ratio). I can understand all of these, but even though we're still in the midst of the adjustment to being a family of *six*, I think the hardest transition in my husband and I's hearts and in our marriage was going from being a married couple to being parents when we had our first son.

When you have that first child, so much in your life suddenly changes... and you really *CAN'T* anticipate it. People try to warn you: GO OUT ON DATES. People try to tell you: SLEEP IN EVERY DAY THAT YOU CAN. But you really don't *get* it until you make the transition. Even if you try to implement the things people warn you about (going on dates, sleeping in, etc.), you really don't appreciate them in the same way you will a year later.

Here are some of the things that I remember that hit me HARD with that first couple months of being parents:
  • It suddenly began taking us 30 minutes to get out the door. (Nurse the baby, get him dressed, oh wait, he spit up on that outfit, get him dressed again- this time, put a bib on him in case it happens again, grab extra diapers, wipes, burpcloths, etc... then RUN out the door.)
  • We didn't have free reign over our schedule anymore. This is the one that (for me) I really wasn't prepared for. Staying up late and sleeping in early couldn't happen (at least not for both of us). Going out just cause we feel like it and walking around for as long as we wanted... couldn't happen without some planning and that previously mentioned 30-minute window of getting out the door. Dropping by someone's house or having someone else drop by yours is all suddenly colored with the attitude and age and developmental stage of this new little person (is he clingy right now? will he cry because he's teething? is he grabbing everything in sight and putting it in his mouth? will I need to nurse him right when they get here?, etc.)
  • It was difficult to keep our conversations from completely centering around that little wonderful boy God had given us. Granted, that's normal and it's a great part of becoming parents-- falling in love with this new little person. But it does take a while to figure out how to make your marriage a priority above being mommy and daddy.
What about you? What life transition has been (or is being) the hardest for you and why? Becoming an adult? Going to a certain number of kids? Reaching a certain age? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

28 comments:

Tim & Richelle said...

Baby #5 was the hardest transition so far - 3 reasons:
1) Hubby had to return to the mission field (unavoidable circumstances) when she was 10 days old leaving me with 5, 7 and under by myself get the rest of us and our excess baggage to France where he met up with us.
2) We were finally "out-handed" - i.e. had more kids than we had hands between the two of us, and as responsible as the 7 & 5 yr old ones were - they were still very young when it came to help with navigating through airports, etc.
3) Her personality and temperment made her a challenging child.

That said, there's tons more transitions to come - so the jury is still out.

Anonymous said...

Jess,

When my husband and I married, I had an 8-year old daughter. Since we had (unfortunately) lived together for two years, it wasn't much of a transition for us to become married parents. However, after six years of marriage, we had a daughter together. For me, it was easy to fall back into the role of mommy-of-a-little-baby. But my husband never had a newborn before. It's been hard to be on two different pages as parents as well as going back and forth between raising a 14-year old and a one-year old. The difference in needs, discipline, and development is like trying to play two roles on-stage at the same time. Now I'm pregnant and due any day and we'll have a 14-year old, a 13-month old, and a newborn. At least this time around my husband and I will both have experience with newborn, but now we're faced with dealing with two so close together.
Our biggest challenge as a couple is finding time and motivation to work on our relationship. He recently quit his part-time job so he's now home in the evenings, which helps, but with another baby on the way, those hours will quickly be taken up by the demands of the children.
We're looking forward to about two years from now when things will settle down a bit and we can actually focus a little on us again!
Jen

Catherine R. said...

I must admit (in my pregnant state) I read these words with a little fear...you know how everyone looks at you with stark terror when you tell them you're expecting and says the deathly: "your life will never be the same." Yikes! But it seems like you and many other women have great marriages after having children, so I take heart in that, however I realize it's an intentional effort that helps.

The hardest transition in my life is probably still happening...the transition of being a Christian woman who lives the way God wants in this world. I am still very soaked in the ways of the world and the tatters of an entire lifetime spent away from Christian living, complete with heavy resentments and damage from a bad childhood and misguided early adulthood.

The Pauls' said...

I think my hardest transition was when we had our 5th child. Just because we left the 'norm' of society and how many kids you should have (that was 9 yrs ago, i think 2 is more the norm now). I guess I was a little insecure about being gawked at everywhere we went. After 5 kids it seemed we were odd anyway, so it didn't matter anymore. God also had to give me a little 'talk' and tell me that when I was annoyed at people looking at our 'large' family, I was really being annoyed at Him for the blessings He gave me. So now it doesn't bother me anymore. Now we have 10 children so we definitely cannot go anywhere without people dropping their mouths open and counting...1...2...3..4...Are they all yours LOL.

Kim said...

Good question!

As far as the transitions that I have endured SO far (I hope I endure more and can change my mind later), it's been the transition from "dreamer" to "worker." As a student, I could dream and dream about what I was going to "be" someday. As a person with a job (ugh) I have these responsibilities I have to attend to, and sometimes I tend to feel trapped in the situation. That being said, I am starting to enjoy the freedom and comeraderie (sp?) of being an adult working among adults, for now (although I miss nannying something fierce, as it was the closest to stay-at-home mommyhood that I have come). It's nice to build rapport with and share experiences with other women who are like minded (love kids, want to serve and help them). So...while it's been a hard transition from student-worker/teacher, it's been a necessary and good one.

And now I have to go to grad school.

Wah.

Anonymous said...

As a new mom (my daughter is now 10-months old), I find the adjustment to being parents to be the hardest change. I went from a working woman who liked having a very structured life to a stay-at-home mom who has had to learn to be more flexible with things. I still have a lot to learn, but I am getting better.

Melissa said...

I totally agree with you, Jess. I, too have four children- 6, 4, 2, and 5mos., and you are so right. It is the adjustment from living for oneself to really serving another wholeheartedly. The Lord has used my children in so many ways to teach me what serving and loving and selflessness is really about. Children are blessings, not just because they bring such joy, but they also bring us closer to our Savior.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, a friend and homeschooling mom of five also says having the first child was the most difficult transition in her life.

An acquaintance who has seven children says going from one to two children was the hardest.

I agree with you that having a first child is a monumental life change (accompanied by very intense hormonal changes for women, and in my case an early struggle with nursing too).

However, there's no question that my most difficult life transition was when my mother died when I was 11 years old.

Losing my father to a freak accident shortly before I turned 30 was almost as hard. By that time I was very used to having just one parent, but it had never occurred to me that my children would grow up not knowing either of my parents, or that I would have to parent my children without being able to lean on either of my parents for advice and support.

If you have never been through a bereavement for someone in your immediate family, I don't think anything can prepare you for how big a change it is in your life.

I have read that on average it is about two years before a person gets back to an emotional equilibrium following the sudden death of someone they love.

Laurie B

militarywifey said...

I found this entry to be so profoundly true. I never believed any of what anyone told me before I had a baby. I thought it couldn't be THAT bad. Boy, was I wrong, those first two weeks were probably the most difficult of my life.

But I got used to it, and eventually my daughter DID sleep through the night. Now, I can't imagine life without her she's such a blessing!

The hardest thing is probably just realizing you can't do anything you want all the time. The lack of sleep was pretty exhausting too. It's like life suddenly becomes more difficult, albeit more precious at the same time.

Oh yea, and cleaning the house is 20 times harder than before.

Jess said...

Catherine R.,
I thought about you as I was posting this one. From reading your blog, I know you've gone through a lot of change in the last couple years. Becoming a parent will bring even more change. Change is hard, but good. ;) Don't fear it- just be ready for it.

Oh, and because of your upbringing and what you've shared elsewhere, I'd recommend that you start (if you haven't already) diligently seeking out the Scriptures about parenting... and also look around at godly families around you and see who has done a good job with the children they have. Whose children are a blessing to be around? Whose children are not only pretty good kids but also seeking God? Then go to those parents and question them as much as you can about what they've done, HOW they've dealt with each age, whether they spank, how they train, what they do when kids throw tantrums, etc.

Ask from as many people as you can, and throw in a few good books in the midst of that, and you'll have developed a parenting philosophy of your own that should serve you well as you wade through the early years of training up your children.

Blessings on you and your little one- it's a wild ride, but OH SO WORTH IT! :)
Jess

Jess said...

Laurie,
I considered that as a terrible possibility for what would be a major transition. I can't imagine not having my parents around. That must be so difficult in so many stages of life.

I'm so sorry you've had to face that.
Jess

Allie said...

I have two children (ages 19 mos and three mos) and I agree that the transition from no kids to one was incredibly huge. I love being a mom, but I sometimes chafe against what I (momentarily) perceive as a lack of freedom. I can't just go, like you said. I don't have the time I used to to write, which is one of my biggest passions. But the hardest thing of all for me is not being able to travel much - even road trips are so difficult with little guys, not to mention my love of backpacking through cities never before explored. But the return is huge as well. Being a mom has made me more like Jesus. And I love these little men so much that I can't imagine going back!

Allie said...

I meant to add - my husband thought getting married was the biggest transition. I think this is because when we married, he went from being responsible for just himself, to being responsible for himself and me. My responsibility level didn't change as much (I didn't have to worry about providing for a family, etc). When we had our son, his life stayed pretty much the same, in that he still went to work every day, still did basically the same things. My life, on the other hand, changed drastically. I went from working/taking care of the home to being a mom every minute of the day, with all that that entails. Anyway, just a thought.

MacCárthaigh Family said...

'When I was single' means... before I had Sean!!!
It doesn't matter if I was with a boyfriend, fiancee or husband... I was single!
Ruth

Allison said...

Well, I'm only 20, so I'm sure my biggest life transition has yet to occur, but so far I would say the transition from living at home with mom and dad, working part time, and going to school part-time to being both married and in the throes of nursing school. Nursing school has a reputation for being extremely difficult, and it has been one of the hardest things I have ever tried to do thus far in my life. There have been days when I've felt at my whit's end about how to manage it all.

Plus, at the same time, I got married just two months before entering my second semester of nursing school, and of course, marriage itself presented MANY changes. So I guess pretty much I have changed from being able to pretty much live my life how I wanted, to having a long list of responsibilities that occupy most of my week.

Jessica said...

Jess,
I'm curious... how hard was the transition moving overseas? We move overseas for the first time in Oct so I was wondering...
Jessica

peter and naomi said...

My friends and I (all firt time moms) talk about this exact topic! I only have one child so far who is 7 months and I thought that I would take him places with me, make him adjust to MY life. Ha ha, silly me! You really don't understand how to appreciate those things like sleeping in or going out until you can't do them! Great post!
naomi

Terry said...

Going from 1 kids to 3 (twins) was a pretty jarring transition. But it wasn't the biggest for us. Because we took a 12 year break between our twins and our latest child (now 20 months old), it has been by far the biggest transition so far. We had settled into a nice little rhythm, our kids were entering a more independent stage, and along comes this little baby turning our comfortable little routine upside down. It has made for some interesting moments. Now with a new baby coming in 3 weeks, things should really get interesting!

Joy said...

Going from three kids to four. I have 3 boys (5,4, and 6 mo) and a girl (almost 2). For some reason it seemed like the whole world went sideways those first few months. We couldn't get out the door in less than an hour , we were constantly late to church and other activities, and none of the kids adjusted well to D at first. I just had to keep breathing. I must have said "this too shall pass" like a mantra for the first month and a half. I couldn't get rest because the older kids and the younger ones were on two different schedules. I am so glad that I decided not to start the five year old homeschooling this year because it would have been way way too much.

I remember Elise (Path Made Straight) talking about how the Psalms and Proverbs are so good for feasting on in those days of craziness, and I second this. I found an audiobook of Psalms and Proverbs and I had it playing for much of the mornings. It's about the only reason I kept my sanity.

And lo and behold, David is now six months and everything is going much better. Everything in it's season!

Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

Being diagnosed with celiac disease has been by far the most difficult transition in my life, much moreso than getting married or becoming a mother. Re-learning how to cook & bake without wheat or gluten; no longer being able to eat out or have the luxury of buying nearly *any* premade foods; completely overhauling my social life (and dealing with social isolation, especially at first) so my new diet could be accommodated; losing my freedom to be away for hours, or leaving at a whim, while knowing I could eat a proper meal without packing it myself; and learning how to deal with cross-contamination have forever changed my life in ways I could not even begin to imagine it would. And the impact continues as my life changes and I have to learn new ways to negotiate the "Wheat Eater's World" further. Raising Peapod gluten-free is presenting new issues to overcome, as is living in new locations and our (possible) eventual travel overseas where my "staple" foods will likely be altered. Adjusting to celiac disease has been, and continues to be, an interesting ride, and in some ways, many of my celiac transitions did help ready me for motherhood, though I couldn't have realized it as I made them seven years ago. :o)

Kelly said...

So true!
I really miss sleeping in!!!!!!!!
Kelly

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

Going from one child to two was hardest for me. But be encouraged! They do reach an age when all those things you used to do...sleeping in, staying up late, going just because you want to, dropping by a friends house...you start doing again and it is so much fun doing it with the kids! We enjoy our kids (14 and almost 18) so much!

amandasattitude said...

I think I'd have to agree with Richelle that baby #5 is the hardest transition for me so far.
The twins were quite a transition but I did have a lot of help and not as many responsibilities.
1) Nursing Baby Girl #5 (6 mnths) which I've never done before, so essentially she's w/ me all the time.
2) Homeschooling all 4 children. The twins started Kindergarten the month she was born and that is a teacher directed grade.
3) More responsibilities w/church than ever.
4) A large garden
5) Trying to eat healthy/whole foods which is much more time consuming.
6) Clingy, fussy Baby Girl that I'm just not sure how to deal with?
7) Little help (except for the kiddos, who I am starting to feel guilty about using them to much)

Not complaining but I do feel overwhelmed right now...
Amanda

Mom said...

The hardest life transition for me was almost exactly the same as yours, Jessica. Your dad and I had been married almost 5 years when you were born. I remember saying pretty much the same things you said. I remember one night after you were born telling your dad that we couldn't just "up and take a walk anymore, etc." He tried to comfort me by telling me that we still could, we might just have to go separately, or take a little extra time getting ready, like you talked about (30 minutes to get out the door). It was quite a transition, but you were so worth it! ha! I was also learning to breastfeed you, and I had no support from family or really even friends. I counted on the La Leche League. I made "many a phone call" during the first few weeks of your life, and they were very helpful. Pretty soon, I felt just fine with it. Love you, Mom

Cat said...

I'd saying going from one to two children was the hardest for me as well. We now have four (ages 7, 4, 20 months and 3 months) and the last two have not been nearly so hard. With your first pregnancy and child, you can nap when needed (I worked full-time during that pregnancy, but at least could go to bed as soon as I got home if I liked)and truly "sleep when the baby sleeps" after the birth. With the second, that privilege is suddenly gone, and my body really felt the lack of sleep! My husband also had to be gone for two weeks three days after we came home from the hospital after having the second, which made those first few weeks extra challenging.

Tanya said...

My hardest adjustment was going from no kiddos to one kiddo. It turned our lives upside-down. I had done plenty of babysitting, had younger siblings and had been "warned" of all the changes that would take place, but like you said, I wasn't fully aware of how those changes would actually impact me. Once I became a mom, I realized how self-centered my own life was......and it changed. It was so hard for me to drop everything I was doing (which to me was SO important) and sit down and nurse my baby for 40 minutes at a time (She ate a lot in one feeding). The constant interruptions were a difficult adjustment for me. Now that I have 3 kiddos, those interruptions are just a normal part of life!!!

Tanya (from LOH)

MoziEsmé said...

Baby #1 was hardest, just as for you. We'd been married 12 years already, so were very settled in our ways. Plus as soon as she was here, we were packing, finishing up our jobs, and moved from Oregon to Mozambique when she was six weeks old.

I love, love, love my little gift from God, but I must say it's the hardest job I've ever had, a lot harder than I anticipated.

Leah said...

I've been married for almost 9 months and don't have any children, but I am DEFINITELY anticipating that the change from "childless couple" to "parents" will be a massively huger step than the marriage step.