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Parenting Advice for My Newlywed Sister

Dear Sister,

What a lovely time in life this is for you, still in the blush of newlywed life, and the heady swirl of becoming “Mrs.” With this lifetime leap of faith, underway, now’s the time to start thinking about babies!

Bride and groom wedding cake topper
source

Wait, what? No, leave me alone.

Yes, I know you’re not pregnant. But you read me right, future potential mommy-to-be. The most important parenting decision you make is not when to get vaccinations or how to handle the attack of the biting toddlers, or basically anything else that’s covered in this informative video. It’s the parenting decision you just made, in whom you married. Lemme explain.

Are you in agreement about if, when and how to have kids?

Do you want to have kids?

Yeah, maybe. Two would be good, right?*

Do you know when you might want to start your family?

Later. Like definitely not this first year. But I don’t know. 

Well, here’s the point: want to have kids? Great! Don’t want to have kids? Great! Willing to do IVF but not adopt? Or opposite? Great! But it only actually works if you guys are on the same page.

Do you think you might want to stay home? Would he? Who’s paying for it?

Sis, you worked really hard to earn your Master’s degree to work in a field you’re passionate about, and you’re climbing up the ladder faster than they can build it.  If you were to have kids, would you expect to go back to work? Is it an option for the Mister to stay home with the kiddos? And if he did, how do you think you might feel about being the breadwinner?

Can you keep it friendly? 

If you one of you can say, “I love you, but right now I don’t like you,” and the other one totally gets it without being offended – then you as a couple have the emotional stomach to separate the incredible love you have for each other most of the time from the overwhelming high annoyance you may have momentarily with him for not washing the bottles the right way. Again. (And to be clear:  however you wash the bottles will be the right way.)

Can you keep it real?

Look, parenting is hard work. Many a blogger smarter and funnier than I has captured that already. But guess what? It’s hard work in the same sense that marriage is hard work. It’s hard to explain now, but it’s work that you will love doing. When you find a man – like you have, Sis – who feels that way about you and your relationship, you’ll also find an amazing father to your children, who will grab your butt while you’re covered in spit up.

Can you laugh together when your kid has an ass-splosion in front of a male teenager in the dressing area at Tommy Hilfiger (true story)? Are you willing to sleep on the couch and get up with the baby so your beloved can get a good night’s sleep? Can you see the romance in unloading the dishwasher, making a pot of coffee or packing up the diaper bag?

In the end

This is not about deciding everything right now. In fact, take heart – because there is no way to figure out all this stuff definitively. Life will throw you two some curve balls. Or, you guys may be surprised at how your feelings on some things change over time. In the meantime, remember: you’re smart, capable and kind – everything you need to be a wonderful mother (and wife, too).

*Does not reflect actual conversation with  my sister nor her Mister. Don’t ask them how soon they’re gonna have a baby.

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About Annie McFarland

Annie McFarland
Happily married to her former neighbor, Annie is mom to three kids age four and under. She (mostly) balances life at home with working full-time in brand and media licensing. Off the clock, you can find Annie on the couch with her nose in a book (or pressed up against the Kindle), thinking about maybe doing some scrapbooking, or listening to NPR podcasts (she's what you call "indoorsy"). If it's football season, she will faithfully support her Southern husband by cheering on the Auburn Tigers and Atlanta Falcons.

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