When my future wife (Maja) and I were on our second date, she made it very clear that she wasn’t interested in dating me seriously if I didn't want to have kids. Maja said she didn’t have time to waste with someone who would not want a family and if I didn’t want kids, this would be our last date. At the time I was convinced and I had said repeatedly for years that I would never ever have kids. This was a decision I had made years prior and at no point in time had I ever thought I’d change my mind. This was over and done. I didn’t like infants (I still don’t to be honest) and I couldn’t imagine myself being a mother as I felt I lacked motherly abilities to be one. I didn’t connect with my femininity enough to be nurturing and felt a complete disconnect with the idea of being a mother.
When that is said, even though it was only our second date, I did like my future wife. Additionally, I also have a very strong rebellious side that likes to be challenged. I am the kind of person who shouldn’t be challenged into doing something because I will end up doing it. I just have this strong urge to defy and succeed.
On our second date, as we sat in the car, Maja informed me of the kids ultimatum. I remember taking a deep breath while thinking on how to best answer this question. Instead of answering plainly and saying “no, I don’t want to have kids”, I asked her about what timeline she was looking at for children. I wasn’t interested in kids but wanted to know if I could pretend to have an interest for a while and see how this relationship would develop. I was hoping for an abstract timeline of 5 to 10 years as I knew I could then pretend to consider it as we would continue to date. It is clear now that I didn’t know my wife well at the time and that I was naive to think she would not have a proper timeline in mind. She replied quickly and without any hesitation. She said she wanted two kids, that she wanted to carry both of them herself and that she wanted the first one in two years. Oops… Pretending I might want kids would not work with such an aggressive timeline so I answered that I’d think about it.
Although I went home that night thinking I wasn’t suited to be a mother, my rebellious side decided that I should take on this challenge and within 24h, I changed my life’s decision of not wanting kids into a commitment to have two of them. To add to the challenge and to commit fully to this crazy turn of events, I told Maja that I would have kids, commit to the two year timeline, but only if I carried the first one.
“Sometimes all you need is a big leap of faith” - Sean Bean
It’s important to state that at the time, I was still recovering from my mother’s death which had occurred a little less than two years before and I had just ended, two months before meeting Maja, a 6 years relationship with another woman. In short, I had been on a roller coaster of difficult emotions for a long time and maybe subconsciously, I was looking for a new project to anchor myself and get a sense of purpose in my life. Most people would have advised me not to decide on such life changing commitments on a whim, especially not after a recent breakup. Happily, I didn’t ask anyone for advice, I made my decision and I went all in!
Maja and I had this conversation in February 2015. By February 2016 we were married and by January 2017 I gave birth to our daughter Adele, 23 months after Maja had asked me if I wanted kids or not. We sure did respect the timeline😉. Two years later, in February 2019, 4 years after our second date, Maja gave birth to our son Louis.
From 2013 to 2019, I went from losing my mother to becoming the mother of 2 children, a complete life turn around and something I had never envisioned. Today, we have a 6 years old daughter and a 4 years old son and I cannot imagine how empty and boring my life would be if it wasn't for these two human beings. Changing my decision to have children on a whim over a 24 hour period is the best decision I have ever made. This blog post is not to advocate for everyone to have children or to try to convince others to do what I have done, but simply to share my journey.
Parenthood has a way of reshaping our perspectives, challenging preconceptions and filling our lives with immeasurable joy and I would be lying if I said that becoming a parent has not changed me. It has changed me to my core and I am a better person for it.
For the longest time, I didn't want to have kids because I didn’t want to be tied down. I believed that children would prevent me from seeing the world and the overwhelming sense of responsibility would curtail my freedom. I also believed that having children would get in the way of my career and that I would not progress further if I had other people in my care. I was wrong on all accounts. Little did I know that I experience life at a completely different level with my two kids. I can experience things I had long forgotten and find joy in the smallest things, which I had stopped to appreciate as I grew older. I embark on more adventures than I would ever do on my own as each day with my children is a day of discoveries and revelations. Additionally, there is an incredible and indescribable joy in witnessing a small human grow, learn and flourish. No personal growth, leadership accomplishment or personal success can rival the joy of watching a small human discover life and develop.
While being pregnant with Adele and for the first few months after her birth, I was worried I would not be a good mother as I didn't connect with my femininity enough to act motherly. It turns out that nature has a fun way to transform preconceptions and I realized that I didn’t need an ounce of femininity to become nurturing. Nurture comes in all shapes and forms, masculine and feminine and everything in between. This discovery has enabled me to better understand and accept who I am at the core and that I am perfectly fine with my disconnected feminine side. Becoming a parent has also brought me closer to my own mother. Although she will never meet her grandchildren, we now share a common role in life and I have learned to love her more for the mother that she was.
Through my children, I have rediscovered so much joy I had forgotten as the burden of adulthood took over my life. Kids have a limitless curiosity and dare try new things like no adult ever would. They ask questions without fearing stupidity and are willing to try over and over again to master a technique. I had forgotten to be curious like a child and that repeated trial and errors are at the core of learning anything. Watching my kids remind me of how we grow has been the most humbling experience.
And in turn, watching my children and spending time with them has made me a better person. I have had to practice patience, adaptability and resilience. My kids have turned out to be my greatest teachers as they teach me great lessons through their innocence, vulnerability and unconditional trust.
Of course, don’t get me wrong, having kids is not all joy. My wife and I have wished to sell our kids many times. We have been frustrated, tired, annoyed, impatient, and so much more. Kids are a lot of work and it doesn’t end… They make you sleep deprived, you lose your privacy and alone time, they have awful fashion taste, they ask questions over and over and you just have to listen to an endless amount of “did you know” statements that of course, you already knew about. They make a mess, they are loud, they need entertainment, they need to be given rules and they need to be disciplined. They don’t respect privacy, they follow you into the bathroom, they need help with everything, they negotiate everything, they need to learn everything and you have to be patient. Overall, being a parent is a lot of hard work. But even on the hard days, I am still so happy I changed my mind and decided to have these two humans in my life for they make me who I am today.
My children also make me a better people leader at work. Through them, I have learned to be more patient with people, I have learned not to give all the answers as people need to learn by trying themselves, I have learned to leave myself out of the room when someone is struggling or having a bad day, I have learned to be consistent and firm, I have learned that everyone is on their own schedule and that not everyone has been equipped with the same toolbox to tackle life. I have learned that leading is not about telling people what to do, but about creating enough trust for people to thrive towards the direction I have set.
I owe a lot to Maja and my kids for having enriched my life to a level I didn't know was possible. Now I will continue to watch my kids grow and hope they don’t grow up to despise me. I hope one day they realize that I was never just a mother, but that I am also human and made mistakes along the way. I hope to play a pivotal role in shaping compassionate and empathetic individuals who will go on to make a positive impact in the world and towards the people who will surround them.