I love being a mother and I love my three children. Most days, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
But there are those moments, often the ones that involve hair pulling, uncontrollable screaming, and a brand new box of granola spread across the kitchen floor, that I think back to what life was like pre-children.
I think of the peace and quiet. I think of having nice furniture, clean carpet, and not being concerned with having a surplus of Magic Erasers to keep the crayons off the walls. I think about all the small things I never really appreciated until after the children came and those things became rarer and rarer.
It doesn’t matter if it’s five seconds or five minutes, a closed bathroom door translates to “I must go in there” for kids under 10. After kids, the bodily functions that were once only shared with a crossword puzzle book are now shared with everyone in the house.
At noon. As any new parents can tell you, once there’s a baby involved, sex can easily become non-existent. And forget about sex in bed. Sometimes you may be able to grab a quickie in the shower because you realize you haven’t touched your spouse in two weeks and you don’t have time to get clean and get laid, so you opt for some multi-tasking.
Before having kids, when deciding where to eat, you could choose between the new, hip restaurant downtown and your favorite steakhouse. Now you decided where to eat based on who serves Mac and Cheese and if the playground is indoors or out.
Once upon a time, you were able to spend money on yourself. You had new clothes, fabulous shoes, and more bags than you could fill. But that’s all changed since you’ve had children. Not only do they cost an arm and a leg to cloth, heck, in the beginning they need a whole new wardrobe every three months. But really, who wants to wear a new dress when you know damn well it’s going to get covered in applesauce, baby vomit, and poo? Instead, it’s jeans and a t-shirt, the outfit of motherhood.
One you’re a parent, your entire focus becomes about your children. You may have moments when you realize you haven’t showered today. Or this week. The days of long, hot, relaxing showers are over because there’s always a diaper that needs changed, a baby that needs a nap, or a toddler that needs lunch.
Okay, so I’m not a huge fan of daytime television, and I never truly thought I’d miss it. But sometimes at one in the afternoon, you want to watch something other than Dora the Explorer or SpongeBob SquarePants. Maybe you want to watch the drama of the woman who’s sleeping with her brother’s wife’s ex-husband’s little brother, who turns out to be her second cousin. It’s not really about the show, it’s wanting time to sit down and not think for an hour.
Once babies are involved, you can’t just “run” anywhere. Even if you only need bread and milk, it’s an ordeal to leave the house. You’ve got to make sure the baby’s diaper is changed, that she’s dressed and fed. That you’ve got wipes, a binkie, and a change of clothes for her. You need her diaper bag and perhaps a stroller. You lug all this to the car and load it up, only to sit down behind the wheel and smell that awful smell. You get back out, take her back in and clean up the explosion that happened in her pants that went all the way to her hair, and start the process all over again. Just to go get milk and bread.
Once you have children, you will never be caught up with laundry. You may get close, really, really close, but as soon as you think you’ve got it all, the baby will pee your bed the same day he sneaks yogurt up to his room and empties it out in his dresser drawer. I promise you, you will never see an empty laundry basket again.
Or having any other grown up conversation for that matter. It doesn’t matter if it’s about the weather or religion, you will find that you miss talking to other adults. Because even though you will randomly talk to other adults, once you have kids, that’s what the conversation will be about. You’ll find yourself out with other mom’s and debating the differences between Huggies and Pampers like it’s the most important thing in the world.
You know those days before children, when you wouldn’t be feeling well and you could call into work and take a sick day? Yeah, well those are gone. Sure, you can still call off, but now instead of resting on the couch watching sappy movies on Lifetime, you have to run around after a toddler, keep the house cleaned up, and still try and make it to the bathroom before you make a mess everywhere. Sometimes, it’s just easier to go to work.
A full night’s sleep, with no interruptions, no midnight feedings, no dirty diapers, oh, what new parents wouldn’t do for one of those. But you learn to live with less. You learn to get cat naps when you can. You learn how to live off of coffee and caffeine. And soon, you’ll find you can’t sleep for eight hours anyway. After six, you wake up panicked, wondering why the children haven’t woken you up yet.
It doesn’t matter if you used to paint, play horseshoes, or read, once you have children, you forget that you even had hobbies. There is so little time in each day, that if you do get 10 minutes to yourself, you’re going to try and hop in the shower or take a nap. Or both. You’re not going to pull out your needles and start crocheting.
Probably more than anything, I never appreciated lazy Saturdays. Sleeping until noon. Eating a late lunch. Going to a movie, hanging out with friends. Not deciding what you’re doing until 9 o’clock at night. Was all that a dream before? Because children don’t sleep in. It’s 6:30 whether it’s Monday or Sunday. Breakfast and lunch are had before your childless friends have finished their first cup of coffee. And heading out to the club at 10 pm; after kids, you’re headed to bed by 10 pm.
Ah, life before babies. While they do make you appreciate the things you never did before, they also give you something you couldn’t experience without them. Parenthood. One of the greatest gifts you could ever ask for.
What do you miss from your days before being a parent? We’d love to know! Share it in the comments.