1. The sheer beauty. Being able to behold the smooth skin, big eyes, and oversized head on a bitty frame is a luxury. Unselfconscious and unaware of just how perfectly formed they are makes them even more delicious.
2. The absolute happiness. It is impossible to not smile when your child is smiling, to not laugh when she is laughing, to not play, when she is playing. Everything is new and exciting. Happiness is contagious and your child is the most infectious.
3. It makes you become a better person. You want your child to be kind and caring and happy. You want her to exhibit strength and grace. There are no shortcuts for making this happen – so you work on calmness and patient feedback and love with limits. You work to demonstrate kindness and strength and grace to your child, your spouse, your friends and family, and yourself. (Note that I didn’t say you would actually achieve this each and every time). It is somewhat shocking when you realize raising a child really means having to grow up yourself.
4. It makes you want to remain healthy. They see what you’re eating and see what you’re doing and no one wants their child to imitate them sitting on the couch eating vats of orange chicken and wontons day after day. No matter how delicious that may be. You want to be around for the long haul. As a result, you might just find that even though you’re sleep deprived and lacking in core strength, you’re paradoxically the most fit you’ve been in years and you feel better than ever. It will not mean, however, that you ever lose your intense cravings for orange chicken and wontons or wine paired with Doritos.
5. The physical affection. I think we underestimate the healing power of physical touch. Snuggles and cuddles and hugs and kisses. Even though you might get the occasional headbutt or scratched cornea from a tiny finger, the positive aspects far outweigh the dangerous ones. The beautiful weight of a child on your lap, leaning their back into your chest or the feel of a small hand resting on yours, is the ultimate comfort.
6. The hahahahhas. You laugh all the time. You see your face in photographs that were taken without you knowing and are shocked by the person who is smiling in the image. That person looks so cheerful! And you realize you weren’t ever this joyful before. Babies are silly and kooky and hilarious. You are constantly har-de-haring at their goofy faces and snorty sounds and primitive dance moves.
7. It makes you appreciate your hobbies. No matter what they may be. As adorable and amazing as your child is, you still need a little bit of alone time. You will never again take for granted a half an hour of jogging, an hour of crafting or a quiet evening spent sipping wine and watching trashy television. A happy parent makes for a happy child.
8. It makes you feel complete. You realize you don’t need to stay up late and go to the bars. You don’t need to go out after work every day for coffee with friends. You still might do these things sometimes, but 90% of the time you don’t want to do anything else but hang out with your family because a hole you didn’t know existed in your heart has been filled. It’s a little startling to discover that a wounded, gaping hole you weren’t even aware resided in your chest before, is now stuffed to the gills.
What do you think the best thing about being the parent of an infant is?