Here is my absolute BEST advice for parents: Get used to enjoying the idea of things; not actual things. Except your children, I am actually a proponent of you enjoying them, when possible. Here’s a short, non-exhaustive list of some things that you probably should get used to appreciating the idea of—because now that you are a parent, you probably won’t enjoy this stuff the same way that you once did.
Here. We. GO.
- Food. This one makes me utterly sad. I LOVE FOOD. I repeat, I LOVE FOOD. I’m part Italian, why wouldn’t I. But, more often than not I don’t enjoy my food, unless the kids are sleeping that is, or I am out on a date night. You see, once you become a parent you become one of three kinds of an eater: 1) the eater who doesn’t eat anything they enjoy anymore because they are tirelessly working on ridding themselves of “mom bod” or “dad bod;” 2) The eater who eats any and all of their kid’s scraps (yes, even the half-chewed, fully-slobbered lollipop); 3) The eater who only eats when the kids are at school, napping, or down for the night (and even then, you remain uneasy as you fear a mid-meal interruption).
- Alcoholic Beverages. The mere idea of a glass of red wine has me salivating as I write this, but the one thing I know for sure is that an actual glass of wine can rarely be appreciated as much as it deserves to be, at least while the kids are around. Parent drinking is a much less blissful experience, and often less intoxicating. (As it should be, right?) Can’t get past your desire to catch a daily buzz? Catch a buzz from your children, your spouse, your morning coffee, from adult conversation, from food or from other people’ energy. Listen, we sure know that parents shouldn’t be drinking ALL. OF. THE. TIME. But, you can and should still catch a buzz. Figure out what that buzz is for you and do it—each and every day.
- Coffee. Well, not all coffee—let’s switch that to hot coffee—which you will never get to enjoy in its entirety again until all of your children reach school age, or you only drink it during nap time and bedtime.
- Going out to eat. I told you how much I love food, so this being super depressing should come as no surprise. We usually eat home cooked meals during the week, but on the weekend, I always have these grandiose ideas about how fun it will be to go out as a family, be waited on, eat food that Mommy hasn’t undercooked or overcooked, and not have to do the dishes. Although I do enjoy those parts of going out to eat, actually going out to eat is not worth the tantrums, mess, dirty looks from other patrons, disgusted insinuations from staff, and the numerous secret photos taken by pissed off restaurant goers of my children and myself, only later to be hash tagged #thisisthereasonidonthavekids. Yeah, no thank you.
- Romance. And by that, I clearly mean something else. There will be very little time for “else” to actually occur, or occur without interruption or concerns surrounding your children putting a damper on the mood.
- Relaxing. Anywhere for that matter—the beach, the couch, during a scenic drive. With your children in tow, this will rarely happen. You know when your friend calls you up and asks you “Hey, wanna go to the beach today?”and for a hot second you picture yourself laying out in your skimpy bikini sunning, as you sip a salted margarita on the rocks? Yep, no, I know nothing about that. I can’t even enjoy the mere idea of this one as all I can picture is my large self in my size-too-small-one-piece, with my thunder thighs scaring onlookers as I run after my oldest two children to keep them from killing each other, while carrying a baby who is eating sand. The beach and even the idea of the beach probably won’t be enjoyable again for another 16 years or so. Bummer.
- Alone time. What’s that again? I can’t recall ’cause it’s been so darn long. Before I became a parent, I can absolutely say I never thought that I wouldn’t even have time to go to the bathroom by myself. I mean, who would have thought that motherhood would entail learning to go and wipe (sufficiently—and that is important) with a baby on your lap.
- Sleep. Okay, seriously—I almost forgot about this one. How is that even possible? Oh, I know…because I’m sleep-deprived, that’s why. ‘Nuff said on that.
I’m gonna stop there ’cause this is just getting kinda depressing and that’s not really my style. But, in all truth, nothing about being a parent depresses me—it may exhaust me, it may deplete me of my sanity, but it sure as hell makes me far from depressed.
Parenthood requires you to adapt your thinking a bit, and once you come to terms with the fact that life from here on out is going to be slightly different than what you expected, you suddenly realize that it’s actually kind of better; it’s the kind of life that forces you to be a present, active member so that you can seek and manipulate the good and fun amidst the challenge and chaos.
Sounds like an adventure to me and I’m always down for those. How about you?