I Think: Having a Baby vs. Being a Parent

By: Mia Black

When I decided to have my daughter, it wasn’t so much that I wanted to have a baby, but I knew I was ready to become a parent (as ready as one can be). I knew that parenthood was the next step I wanted to take in my life. I had the college degree, a job, my own place; a family was my next move. When my daughter came, I was prepared for the sleepless nights, the throw up on my clothes, juggling my budget to now accommodate diapers, daycare and formula, and buckling down to spend time at home with my new baby. I got exactly what I expected. I walked around like a zombie from lack of sleep, wanted to scream when I discovered the foul smelly white goo running down the side of my arm, and half the time didn’t know where the money was going to come from, but nothing could keep me from being with babygirl.

Now let’s examine these two statements:
1) I want to be a parent,
2) I want to have a baby.

They seem to say the same thing, but when examined the meanings are very different.

For me, becoming a parent meant that my life was about to come second to the needs of my child. Hanging out until all hours of the night or going out whenever I felt like it, those times were going to be few and far in between. Hunting for the job that would have me out of the office by five was my new mission. My point being, I was ready to put the party times behind me because I had been there and done that. And if I had to make the career change so that my child wouldn’t be putting in ten-hour days at daycare, so be it. I had already formulated in my mind what kind of parent I wanted to be, before I had my child.

Then there are the people that fit the baby around their lives. The partying doesn’t stop; they put their needs above those of their child; it often gets to the point where the child is calling the daycare provider mommy. They become dependant on babysitters, other siblings, the grandparents, and friends, to take care of this child so they may continue on with the conveniences of their life. They have fulfilled the want of having a baby, but the role of parent has become the responsibility of everyone else.

The most interesting part of this “just have a baby” phenomenon is that it crosses all races, economic classes, and age groups. The obvious example is that of the young teen that gets pregnant, or gets someone pregnant and continues running the streets, and extended family takes on the role of substitute parents. But are they so different from the corporate executives that continue to work the sixty-hour workweek, and depend on everyone else to pick the baby up from daycare.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t go out, don’t have a career, or forsake your entire life. That is absolutely ridiculous. What I’m saying is having a baby comes with the automatic responsibility of becoming a parent. In my opinion, you should want both before your child is here.

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