Answer by Mira Zaslove, mother of a 3-year-old daughter:
Since the birth of my daughter, I feel both older and younger than I ever have.
I was over 35 when I had my daughter. In medical terms, I was a "geriatric pregnancy." No joke. Nevertheless, I had an active and healthy pregnancy. I traveled a lot -- including to faraway places like Israel, where I found that a pregnant woman does float in the Dead Sea.
Having a kid isn't easy, but also doesn't mean a woman will automatically be old and fat after being pregnant. Feeding a newborn and running after a toddler burns a lot of calories and keeps you in pretty good shape.
Yet, the sleep deprivation is undeniable. Gone are the days of sleeping like a baby. Even the slightest cough from my daughter in the other room will wake me up. Sleeping in is a friend I haven't seen in years. Friday nights and the weekend mean something very different after having a baby than they did when I was younger.
When I was in my 20's I quit my finance job and bought a Eurail ticket and a one-way ticket to Europe. I backpacked by myself for months with no agenda. I loved to travel and didn't worry about when I was coming home. Or where I would be the next week.
Now, after having a baby, I worry about a weekend trip away. It is nearly impossible to be carefree or spontaneous. Going to the movies or out to dinner requires advanced planning. Packing for a baby requires some serious effort, and I do feel old just thinking about it.
Children thrive in routine. So in that respect, having a child has aged me. It is hard to be unpredictable. Travel is tough. It is easier to be a homebody. Yet, in this way, along with most others, having a child also ages a man. My husband Jay also used to spend over 100 days on the road. Since becoming a father, he has lost his Executive Platinum status and is no longer rapidly accumulating miles.
However, working really hard at anything ages us. And many difficult jobs provide very little joy. I've had jobs where I rarely had a day off, and couldn't sleep in. I felt a lot older then. In many ways I feel younger, sillier, and more in the moment being a mother than I ever did before I had a kid.
It's hard to take yourself too seriously when you are taking care of a child. I've never been a good dancer or been able to carry a tune. After having a kid, I really don't care -- I sing and dance all the time. And in public.
I recently hung out with an ex-colleague and belted out "The Wheels on the Bus" with the accompanying hand gestures to her and her one-year-old daughter. She knew me when I was working non-stop. I believe she, and many others, would say I look and act a lot younger than she remembered me 5 years ago.
My husband and I also dressed up for Halloween for the first time since we started dating. We've gone to the circus, the zoo, and theme parks. I also go to lots of birthday parties, where I wear hats and eat cupcakes, just like the 2-year-olds do. In many ways having a kid, lets you be a kid!Suggest a correction