Is being a parent more or less rewarding than you expected?

"I knew I would love my baby and it would be a special relationship, I just didn't know how special. He makes everything better than before."

"I was afraid to have children. I knew all the books in the world really wouldn't help me or prepare me. They come with no guarantee and no 30 day warranty - you can't return them. I took the plunge at 29 and decided all those worn out cliche's I wouldn't use really were true. `I didn't appreciate my mother until I became one - It's one of the most unselfish things you can do because of all the things you give up'. I wrote a Mother's Day letter to my sister - explaining that I woke up and I didn't get what I asked for - I wasn't single, 28 or in the Caribbean. But there stood my two older children, one with a hand made card (glued, stapled and misspelled), the other carried a yarn covered hanger that meant sacrificing so many recesses at school to complete. I sat up and in my throat I felt I had swallowed a peach pit and my eyes swelled with tears. Their smiles beaming - they were so proud. I was so proud as they stared at my tears. I couldn't talk, I gurgled, `You won't understand until you're a parent too'. I got not what I asked for, but more than what I wanted. Nothing can compare to the unselfish love a child!"

"I honestly thought the newborn period was something one had to `endure'. But the baby was more than just a blob. He responded to us in many ways and showed his personality right from the start!"

"I am enchanted with my child. No matter how much love I give my child, she gives more back!"

(Less) "Only because I feel most of my time with the kids is fighting, yelling, etc. It's rewarding to see them do things, say things, etc., but there's not enough of that time."

"It's difficult (of course), starting out. My husband is at sea & won't be back until Sept. He couldn't be here for his child's birth (and the baby will be 3 months old by the time he first sees him). But it's so rewarding because my son looks exactly like his father and that's

very comforting."

"Each day is a brand new day. Whenever I least expect it, my children will do something that totally surprises me."

"Words almost cannot fully express the joy a little one can bring and oh what entertainment!"

"It's a great learning experience - Human Nature: The Early Years. children never cease to amaze me with lessons in why we are like we are. I can see traits in my child that will probably stay with her into adulthood. Also, being a parent has forced me to slow down. I enjoy life more now."

"Nothing could be `That Bad' anymore."

"What was life before children?"

"I never expected that my emotions would be so enhanced. I've found feelings I never knew I had".

"I never realized my children would not be just some screaming kids in a restaurant but, rather part of my family which I love and see them as unique. At least I know why they are screaming."

"Being a parent has given me more of a sense of self - who I am, what I'm to do with my life."

"We have struggled with our first family. However, with 10 years between our second child and the baby, we are finding more patience and understanding with the whole family."

"I knew I would love her but I never expected I could love her more than life. She is so special and amazing. I love watching her excitement when she learns and discovers new things. Everything is new and wonderful through her eyes."

"It is more rewarding than I could have imagined. The reward is not worked at and then given at the end of the job of parenting. Rather it is earned daily at the most unexpected times and most unusual ways."

"I've never been fond of other people's children, but it's so easy to love my own!"

"I never knew how good it felt to have your child cuddle in your lap or when you get your baby up from a nap and she nuzzles your neck in a `baby hug'! Or you see the kindness when the two are playing together, or the love when the older kisses the baby and the baby smiles and giggles - you se the way your love spills over to your children."

"They're so fun & exciting and excitable. They can get a big thrill out of the simplest things. The holidays are much more anticipated by us now, we enjoy the `waiting'."

"I cannot answer more/less as the process of becoming a parent has been so confusing. There is no black/white for me and there are ups and downs which are both so new I'm just reacting and sorting it all out. Generally, it's been very wonderful and life enriching."

"We're still in a state of shock that this wonderful creature has been entrusted to our care. She's 6 1/2 months old now and we still look at her and say, `Is she really ours?'. It's a very humbling experience and, yes, very rewarding. Even in the difficult times, we are glad we had her."

"I really tried to keep expectations to a minimum, knowing that this would be beyond anything I could imagine - and it is. The love I feel for my son is so perfect (he's only 5 months old) - I wish all the love in my life were so right."

"I didn't know what to expect, so it's hard to say. I would say it is a pretty thankless job as far as tangible rewards, but I can't imagine my daughter not being there. And to see her grow, learn and experience the world is fascinating and I do hold pride in her."

"Society today emphasizes the sacrifices far more than the rewards. Women in particular need to reinforce their own sense of accomplishment in raising children because American society does not attach many rewards to that choice."

"It does have it's ups and downs, but there is always something good that comes of each situation. It's just sometimes you have to look harder than others, or it takes longer to see them."

"It's like being in love! I feel really good emotionally - almost euphoric. I also enjoy the compliments I get from people about my baby even though I feel uncomfortable if any one pays me a compliment personally."

"I always thought being a parent was the end of the line. I thought you should grow up, live your life to the fullest, achieve all the goals you set out to achieve, then settle down and have children. Well, it's reversed. Having your children is just the beginning of a wonderful adventure!"

"The rewards of parenting are very close to what I expected. The inability to fulfill my idealistic picture (of the perfect mother with the always radiant attitude with the perfectly kept house while being actively involved in community affairs in addition to having a perfectly satisfied husband) was unexpected."

"It's the single most important thing that my husband and I do. I think I feared having children, thinking it would change my marriage to the negative side. Unexpectedly, it has had the opposite effect!"

"There is no way to describe how your own child compares to all the other kids you've ever known."

"I was 33 when we had our first child - my husband was 40. We both feel we would not have appreciated them as much if we would have had children earlier in our lives."

"I can't believe how wonderful it is to be so needed and trusted by this little person. Out of all the people in her world, I am the one she depends on to take care of her and it makes me feel ten feet tall."

"Having worked in a nursery, I knew pretty much what to expect, so I didn't have a lot of false expectations. False expectations are what can make parenting difficult. Having my own is more rewarding because when he smiles - it's for me - mommy."

"Being a parent is probably the most important thing I'll ever do in my life. I love providing for my babies. It's really rewarding to know that as their mother I can make them laugh and smile, console them when they're not feeling so well, and watch them grow and learn. At night I feel so relieved when my girls finally go to bed for the night. In the morning I love seeing their faces peering at me through the crib bars waiting for me to provide another day of food, play and love. I wouldn't trade in these last eight months for anything."

"I never wanted children so I see all the good things, the joys, the love that I never thought existed. Now I wish I'd started sooner in life and had more children. (I was 36 when my first and only daughter was born.)"

"We only wanted two children but we received an extra gift of twins, who are a joy and a handful to raise. I feel sorry for our eldest as her world was turned upside down with their arrival. They get along mostly but constantly fight over toys, etc."

"I didn't realize I could love someone as much as I do my children. The smiles of my own children go straight to the heart and help during the hard times."

"I am 22 years old, and I love being a new mom. It's so rewarding because kids can learn so much from their parents."

"It is rewarding, but I look forward to the days when it's a little easier, like after recovering from the hospital, and baby sleeps more."

"Our little girl has taught her daddy and me more about life than anyone or anything else. she's a very big blessing in our lives."

"Children are more interesting than I thought, and the more I learn the more I see that I don't know. They also reward you for your work."

"I was never too excited about other peoples babies and didn't think I would begin to enjoy my own child until at least age 2. I didn't realize how much one of those toothless smiles could do for my ego!"

"You can never be prepared for the warmth that comes from your own child's smile. It's like no other. Caring for our own child, even though often demanding, is a work of love - with loving results."

"To feel the totally unconditional love that manifests itself instinctively and effortlessly is so much more rewarding than you can imagine before the birth of a child. Each child I've had (and I've had 6) has brought forth such feelings of awe that I can fall in love this way. Over and over again! Rewarding is an understatement. There are no words to describe it. That's why I feel compelled to sing and humm to her and coo and humm my love for her."

"Our baby's almost 6 months old and I'd say it is becoming more rewarding to be a parent but these first monthswere rocky. Her personality is developing and that makes it worth it."

"It's a long-term investment that pays short-term dividends. Sometimes I worry very much about `The Big Picture', what these little persons will be able to contribute in 20 years and how much positive influence I will have had. But the short term benefits of such funny phrases they come up with and all the wonderful emotional & physical closeness make me believe we're doing OK."

"Fortunately my baby sleeps through the night at 4 weeks old! She is now 1 1/2 and still sleeps her 12 hours without a complaint. She's also an easy going girl."

"I didn't know what to expect. I knew it was `hard but worth it' because that's what nearly all mothers say. However, when it comes down to actually doing it yourself, every experience is individual. Depending on the temperament of the child, the new-mother experience can be either rewarding, disappointing, or both. I have days when I want to run away, and those when I would never leave. I have found the experience to be both more and less rewarding than I had expected. A very dramatic life change."

"Watching a new life take shape is quite a miracle."

"Both. The first month, especially, was less rewarding than I'd expected. I was giving, giving, giving to a little creature who returned so little - except messy diapers. Since those first months, however, parenthood has been more rewarding than I'd expected. My little girl is truly a wonder! I never expected to feel such love and pride."

"I never understood how much you can love a baby and how strong the feelings are. I would give my life for my children."

"Our baby is a very good natured little guy and loves to smile and interact with others."

"It's even rewarding the 2nd time around."

"I would not trade my son for all the money in this world."

"I love being a parent. My husband and I have been married two years with two children. Shall we try for three?"

"Too soon to tell - I've only been at this 5 months. I like being a mom - but I have tremendous support at parenting from my husband."

"I have learned much about myself through my children. I am more patient, understanding, and respectful of young ones. I laugh and cry more because of them. My reason for being is enhanced knowing that the world has two more great human beings in it."

"Before my son was born, people tried to explain the joy, happiness, sadness and frustration, but I just didn't/couldn't comprehend the feelings until I had the living experience."

"The good outweighs the bad with raising children. For instance, one hug and a kiss definitely outweigh spilt milk."

"There is nothing in the world that compares to the feelings of joy I get when I held my newborns on my belly. I love watching them grow and learn."

"I never imagined how much a fool I would be for a deep-stomached baby laugh!"

"Having a child means learning to love in a different way; that in itself is more rewarding."

"I love every moment - even in wee hours when I'm totaled. My boy is such a miracle. At 42 I'm in heaven and ready to do it again. I also have a beautiful 21 year old daughter."

"After four months of being a full-time child care provider to my 1 1/2 year old daughter, I found a closeness I've never expected. My wife is a special education teacher and I'm a `Mr. Mom'. At first it was tough figuring out what to do and when. Now it's still not a snap but it's wonderful to be so close to my daughter."

"I think that children bring out the best and the worst you can be. If one is open, they can learn and grow tremendously. Children are also full of love and wonder which eventually rubs off on others."

"I didn't really know what to expect when we became parents. The emotions are very powerful."

"I didn't expect to see so many positive changes in myself. I've become more patient tolerant, organized and more positive in my outlook."

"When he wakes in the morning and smiles at me, that's all I can see. It erases everything else that may have happened previously."

"It was so easy for our baby to fit into our lives - like he was always here."

"Today's world is very hectic and work is demanding. There are very few jobs - most are careers! Children are the main thing that puts life back into perspective. They remind you what life is about - giving, loving, sharing, and caring."

"Being a parent evokes emotions you didn't realize existed. It is an experience not to be missed."

"When my kids do well I feel so much pride I could burst! But when they disappoint me, I feel like such a failure."

"The love and dedication I feel towards my children is far greater than I ever imagined possible. They make me a better person by taking away self centered behavior. My husband and I feel blessed and exhausted."

"The roller coaster ride of emotions and energy is precious. Our newborn has captured our hearts!"

"It's the most intense, joyful, frustrating yet satisfying adventure I could have imagined. I love it."

"Brings the `magic' to every day moments and shows me how competent I am."

"I thought I could create a `perfect' child. I forgot they have a mind of their own and a personality that begins at birth. I wouldn't trade it for a million trillion."

"Reward is an elusive and relative term. There is a tendency to look upon our children as `products'....are they finished when they are 5, 15, 25 or 50 years old? I am rewarded one day by my son's act of kindness towards another child, I am devastated the next day when I see him act callously or maliciously towards another child. I must often remind myself that children come with no guarantees. The obedient, loving child of 5 may fall victim to any number of bad choices at the age of 15 or 20, through no fault of his `parenting'."

"Each giggle we get from one child produces several from the other. I guess I knew they would laugh but it didn't click how much they would make each other and us laugh too!"

"Our baby is exceptionally good - cries very little and is easily comforted when she does cry or fuss. And I was psyched up for hard times!"

"Having children forces one to live in reality. You can't escape in self-indulgency and ignore the needs of others!"

"It's also much more difficult than we expected. But even the sacrifices turn into rewards as we learn to put someone else's needs before our own."

"The joy of being a parent can't be fully explained by words, it is the feeling from the heart that is incredible."

"It's like they used to say about the Peace Corps, `It's the toughest job you'll ever love."

"I've taken psychology and chemistry classes but it wasn't until I watched my boy develop physically and mentally that I understood how complex the brain and body really were."

"Seeing life in seasons - our children are babies for only a brief time and this is a season of wonder. Toddlers are most trying and most precious. They have so much energy! Kids grow up. Parenthood is overwhelming."

"Every time I look at our son, I fall in love with my husband all over again. Being in on something so important together has made my husband and I appreciate and respect one another even more. I never knew I could have such love and caring for 2 people. It has made me grow tremendously."

"I've been a parent for 13 years. I started out as a single paren and at that time I wasn't so sure the benefits and rewards out weighted the non-child life. Now that my son is 13 and I look back over the years, the good stands out rather than the bad. We are very close and have an open relationship - most of the time."

"It's exhausting and difficult, but never boring! We're constantly amazed at how much we're learning. For a couple of adults who thought they knew everything, the whole parenting gig is very humbling."

"From the moment my eldest (now 3) and I began to do that magic `bond' in the hospital, my life is richer than I ever expected. Watching him grow and develop has given me more pieces of my identity, more places where my parents and I can connect and more pleasure in just absorbing his smiles and love. I was 35 when I had him and I loved the process so much we had a second at 37, and hope for a 3rd at 40!"

"After infertility problems, a miscarriage and a very difficult start for my youngest, I've learned to really appreciate my children. I feel that God has blessed me with the joy and responsibility for these 2 lives. That in itself is a special reward."

"I have a 9 year old and a 9 month old. My youngest had open heart surgery when she was 6 days old. You sure appreciate a healthy kid after a sick one. The reward is that smile or that 1st mama. It makes the bad days easier."

"It is the most rewarding experience in my life. I'm having so much fun raising my child it doesn't seem like work at all."

"I never thought anyone would ever need me quite like my daughter needs me. And that is rewarding to me that she wants only me most of the time. but it is also hard when I do all the care for her. I thought parenting was something done with two parents. Also, parenting is hard when everyone tells you that you are doing the wrong thing."

"It really is both. Watching the new things my 6 month old daughter discovers every day is both fun and educational for us both. However, lacking a support system of other friends and neighbors who are new parents has made it difficult. Instead of being able to `chat across the back fence on things' (how to handle 1st cold, etc.), I've made many trips to the library."

"On a day to day basis it's less rewarding, but overall it exceeds expectations."

"It was more rewarding when they were younger - the younger one still has some rewarding moments. But now I hear more negative comments like `mean mom', or `Sara is a nicer mom', etc. And the rewards become less."

"No one can imagine the joy of your own children until it is actually experience. I used to dismiss all the inane comments used by parents to describe the rewards, and now I speak the same way - no doubt, much to the everlasting chagrin of friends who are not parents."

"In the year 1981 B.K. (before kids), I dreamed of going to Africa as a missionary or of hiking the Pacific Trail alone - high adventures. Then, suddenly, we were expecting our first child instead. With all the fun, frustrations, tears and elation of having a family, came a deep sense of satisfaction and the `high adventure' of real love - the kind of love only found in families where `me' is the last consideration. The rewards are dandelions in the summer and play-doh with a runny-nosed child in winter. Would I do it again? I did. We have four beautiful children, and our famil is complete."

"It's also more challenging: physically, mentally and emotionally. There are so many little things that fill my heart. For example, when our 5 yeare old was sick, our 3 year old brought in her doll and special books all by himself to cheer her up."

"It's hard to imagine life before Sam (BS) - it has changed so drastically. Life after Sam (AS) is more work, more laughs, more scarey, more meaningful. It changes faster, makes you feel older and gives you a chance to relive those early moments of your own life that are long forgotten!"

( What advice would you most like to give about experiencing life with a new baby?"
Send your advice via E-mail to: Editor - BABY EXPERIENCE ADVICE )

Questions and Answers Index.