You may not notice it straight away, but every relationship in your life has been altered, with new dynamics at play with your partner, parents, in-laws and mates.
Having a baby pretty much changes everything.
Amid the general life shake-up you are hit with – especially in the first six to eight weeks when you’re basically just WTFing the whole time – you may not notice that every relationship in your life has been altered in some way.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
This isn’t a ‘you’ll find out who your true friends are’ kind of situation. It’s just that this tiny-but-massive new aspect of your life, in the shape of a mini-human, means all your personal relations will take on a different shape.
It’s just one of the hundreds of things you’ll have to roll with in the months and years ahead, but at least it’s good to be aware of what’s going on, right?
This will be a bit different for everybody, but here are some of the trends.
Here’s where you’ll experience the most tumult. Your lives, which previously revolved around each other, are now intertwined with a third – very cute, but very needy – little person.
There are two factors at play here.
Firstly, you will have very little time for each other anymore, at least initially. That is going to put a strain on both of you.
Where you used to have a rough day and come home and talk to her about it, now you have a rough day and come home to find she’s had an even rougher day and you’re both too tired to bloody talk about it.
And a lot of the fun stuff about being a couple, like going out for dinner or drinks or to the movies, will have to be scaled back considerably.
That’s the doom and gloom side of things. The good news is, if you had a strong bond before, then it’s going to get so much stronger.
The thing is, you’re with your partner for a bunch of reasons that are personal to you. And those reasons will only become amplified when you have a kid. You might love her strength — well wait to you see what she can cope with.
If it’s her sense of humour, you have no idea how funny she can be till she’s confronted with a cheeky little vomit and poo-producing machine.
It’s like everything you suspected she was capable of, she actually is … and then some. And hopefully she’s feeling the same way about you.
That newfound mutual awe of each other sure helps you get through the tough times.
As a bonus, you’ll have a whole new way of arguing too, which is pretending to speak to the baby but actually being passive aggressive to your partner.
“Mum’s singing that song again, isn’t she? You think she has terrible taste in music, right? Yes she does!” (Baby giggles on cue.)
“It’s fun for dad to sit on the couch and criticise Mum’s taste in music while she does the washing up, isn’t it, possum?” (Baby laughs at Dad’s laziness.)
And so on and so forth. It’s very cathartic and not at all unhealthy.
You’ll realise a couple of things about your parents almost as soon as you start parenting yourself.
1. Holy shit, I owe my parents waaay more than I previously realised.
2. Wow, I was a complete turd to them for much of my middle-to-late childhood. Actually, well into my 20s too.
This epiphany will result in a newfound bond with them, even if it goes unspoken. Luckily, you’ll have a focal point to bond over (hint: it’s the kid). They’ll actually be as proud of the wee goblin-thing as you are.
The downside to this is you’ll feel obligated to listen to all the ‘cute’ and embarrassing stories from your childhood over and over again.
Your relationship with the in-laws is likely to be intensified now there is a baby in the picture. So hopefully, for your sake, you get along well.
You’ll be seeing more of them and much will depend on whether you have a mutual respect or you agitate the crap out of each other.
If they think you’re the cat’s pyjamas, they will support the way you raise your child. But if they strongly believe you are a dullard and a fraud, expect them to undermine much of what you’re trying to do.
So good luck with that. The only tip I can offer if things are getting hectic is that it’s more important you get along with your child than your parents-in-law, so at some stage you might have to put your foot down.
Don’t @ me when this advice causes epic family dramas.
Get used to the idea that some of your friends aren’t going to be particularly into kids. Hey, I was one of those people myself.
It’s not that they have a problem with babies or kids, it’s just it’s not super appealing to go around and visit someone when all the focus, out of necessity, is going to be on the child.
They will pretend to be impressed when your baby claps at a bird or you tell them about the strange coloured poo he/she did yesterday, but in the end they just aren’t invested.
No doubt they are absolutely stoked for you but if your friendship was based on big nights out, watching sport at the pub, rock-climbing or some other activity that is not child-friendly, it will be a chore for everyone to keep up appearances.
You might have to put things on hold for a while, maybe even until they have kids of their own.
Meanwhile you’ll have other mates who can’t come around enough to see the baby. And you’ll form closer ties with a new subset of friends who are going through the same thing as you, even if you were only casual acquaintances before.
Trust me, you won’t miss those big nights out. OK maybe you will, but you won’t miss the hangovers.
There are countless other relationships not mentioned here, like those with your siblings, nieces and nephews, work colleagues, or even your boss — but in general the pattern is the same.
You’ll have a new dignity about you that most people will respect on some level, even if you know you’re still the same clueless galoot as before you procreated.