Last Friday night, I stumbled upon an old friend in a bar in Stockholm. It was quite a surprise because he hasn’t gone out much since he’s had children.
In Sweden, having children is a much smoother process than in many other parts of the world. As a parent, you get plenty of paid time off (480 days per child at 80–100% of your salary, to be precise), you get to work from home, finish earlier, etc, so you can fully relax and embrace parenthood.
Being myself in my late 20s, more and more of my friends are having families, and I’ve heard a few times that before you have children, you had better enjoy going out and travel as much as you can. So unsurprisingly, my first question was:
"- Don’t you miss this life, though?
- Not really, actually I can’t wait to go home".
Oh, OK. As I tried to not take this comment personally, he continued.
"- It’s fun going out, but I’ve had my time. I used to party a lot, be selfish, go after the money, buy things like clothes and cars for my own pleasure. But I didn’t know what I was working hard for, I had no purpose. Now I do.
- It sounds like you were a zombie and woke up from the dead!
- Yeah, pretty much. One day, my girlfriend brought me a napkin on which was written “Baby onboard”. I didn’t get why she showed me that at first since we weren’t trying to conceive, but once I understood she was carrying my child, I was over the moon. That day, it felt like God came to me and said: “Burre, from now on, you are a different person”. And I became a better person.
I started to treat my girlfriend like a princess. I wanted to know how she was doing, what she was thinking about at any time, I had to make sure that she was safe, that the baby was safe. And whatever we used to fight about did not matter anymore. There’s been a switch: I now have a purpose, I know why I wake up in the morning, why I work hard. My family is everything for me and I’d do anything for them.
There’s just no way to describe the feeling you have when you hold your baby for the first time and he looks at you in the eyes. And when your child smiles at you, it is the best sensation in the world. This is when life begins.
It is interesting to see that, when you have not experienced this, you think that your life will end. But when you are on the other side, it begins. it’s just different chapters.
- I can’t wait for you to have your own, you’ll understand, ended Burre, confident.
- I will… One day. But first, more parties and more traveling :)".