(But Not in a Bad Way)
One thing parenting books don’t tell you about becoming a parent is that you can develop a bigger fear of dying. Soon after my oldest daughter was born, I spent a lot of time thinking about death. I was terrified of leaving this little person — who was entirely dependent on me — without a mom.
That’s not to say I live in fear. I’m actually grateful for this newfound perspective, as it’s motivated me to prepare more for the future. I started thinking about ways I could ensure my family was taken care of if I were to pass unexpectedly.
How Parenthood Helped Me Face My Own Mortality
Take a look at eight things that have been on my mind since becoming a mom.
#1: Life Insurance is a Necessity
After I had my kids, I realized how much they depend on me financially. The thought of leaving my husband solely responsible for the financial well-being of our children while he was grieving really upset me. I started researching different types of life insurance — there are a lot out there, and the information can be overwhelming. With the help of my husband, we purchased a plan that best fit the needs of our family. The peace of mind I’ve gained from buying life insurance has been priceless.
#2: My Health Isn’t Just About Me
Before I had kids, I didn’t really care about what I put into my body or how much I was exercising. When I became pregnant, I started making healthier choices. I was overly cautious about anything I ate, because it affected my child’s health. Even after my children were born, I ate healthier and started running again. I wanted to be sure I was as healthy as possible so I could live longer.
#3: Safety — Everything is Dangerous
I never realized how dangerous the world is until my toddler almost fell on his face with a pencil in his hand. He could have easily stabbed himself in the eye! I became a lot more safety-conscious after the birth of my kids. I’m not just conscious about my kids’ safety though; I’m a lot more aware of mine. I used to be a speed demon on the road, but now going slightly above the speed limit terrifies me. The reckless and carefree nature I had as a newlywed was replaced with a much more cautious one after I became a mom.
#4: Finances are Always on My Mind
I’ve never been good at saving money. If I wanted something, I went out and bought it, even if it didn’t fit the budget. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first child that I realized how expensive having kids is. Food, clothes, toys, school supplies, social activities … the list goes on. I want my kids to have everything they need, so I’ve become a lot more frugal. The thought of leaving them with nothing if something unexpected were to happen to me is a scary thought, but it’s motivated me to be more careful with my spending.
#5: Saving Up for College
When our kids started elementary school, my husband and I realized that they’d be heading off to college before we knew it. We started thinking about how we were going to handle this financially since college tuition is incredibly expensive. We made a goal to start setting money aside for our kids’ college education with every paycheck. Even if what we set aside doesn’t pay for everything, I’m grateful that they’ll have some help from me — especially if I’m not around.
#6: Keeping My Will Updated
Should I pass away unexpectedly, I don’t want my family to argue over my medical needs or my possessions. I didn’t want my family to make those tough decisions, which is why I created a will. My husband and I discussed the kind of medical care we want (should we require it) and what we want to happen with our possessions. We also selected a guardian for our children. Once we made our decisions, we wrote up our will. It is incredibly comforting to know there won’t be anything for my husband or children to figure out should I suddenly die.
#7: My Funeral Arrangements
One of the most painful things to think about is my husband trying to figure out what kind of funeral I would want, should I unexpectedly die. As hard as it is, we’ve talked about our wishes in the event one of us dies; it’s nice knowing that I know his wishes, and he knows mine. Soon I’ll put it all in writing so we have record of it, in case the unthinkable happens. Knowing that my husband and kids can focus on their grief during such a difficult time made the process worth it.
#8: Having a Good Relationship with My Kids
While I was thinking about what my kids’ lives would be without me, I realized how important it is to have a strong relationship with each of my children. I don’t want them to resent me for not spending enough time with them or wondering if I love them. Every day is spent making sure my kids — and my husband — know how much I love them. No matter how long my to-do list is, I take time to laugh and play with my kids and spend time with my husband. Recognizing that I won’t be around forever has made me realize what truly matters.
Purchasing life insurance, developing healthier habits, and making funeral arrangements were all things I started thinking about more once I became a mom. Don’t let your fear of death and dying stop you from taking steps to prepare for it. The peace of mind and comfort you’ll feel will help alleviate some of the fears you have about the future. And focusing on being present, loving your family, and being the best mom you can be will always pay off in the long run.