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Oh those salad days (literally in that you had time to order and eat a salad) when you were married without children! As nobody says aloud, childlessness is wasted on the childless. Here are a few distinctions between those with kids and without, in various domains of daily life.
Before Kids: Prior to children, a three day surprise trip to a beach was a good anniversary present. Possibly add some thoughtful little gift into the mix like a treasured book, CD, or even a piece of jewelry. As you slowly ate a delicious dinner at an amazing restaurant you found through meticulous online research, you gazed into each other's eyes. Passionate love making followed.
After Kids: You would like your husband, for once, to be the one to text the sitter so that you can go out for two hours, including the drive, to a restaurant you don't even like but is near to the house. Of course he doesn't have the sitter's number (despite your numerous injunctions that he should have these numbers in case you or your phone dies) so this is just a fantasy. As is the idea of physical intimacy. As you choke down a dinner you could have cooked better yourself, you gaze into your smartphones and post some load of BS about how awesome your night is. Later, there is passionate arguing over who should wake up early with the baby.
Before Kids: Each partner showered once, maybe even twice a day, without any idea that this would be considered luxurious in a few short years. Sometimes you even showered together, and wouldn't you know it, passionate love making followed (hereafter, PLMF).
After Kids: The person who must wake up with the children has to shower the night before. S/he is resentful of the cleaner partner and is developing an anxiety disorder manifested by sniffing him/herself surreptitiously during the day. For both parties, showers are taken quickly, and frequently using baby shampoo. Toddlers bang at the door in states of dishabille while you try to wash your hair. Preschoolers sit and poop 12 inches from where you stand.
Before Kids: Work was something you were proud of and threw yourself into entirely. You dressed for success. Your career progressed rapidly and you felt effective and confident in the workplace. Ahead of you was only shining opportunity. You were promoted, and your spouse was proud of you! Obviously, PLMF.
After Kids: You get into work generally 10-15 minutes late with a pit in your stomach hoping nobody will notice. You are wearing something that was fashionable five years ago. You frequently forget what you are supposed to be doing at work and consider a good day one in which your nap at your desk is uninterrupted. You are fuzzy on what your career goals were supposed to be and it's probably irrelevant because you may be fired at any moment. You are consumed with anxiety that if this happens you will not be able to afford preschool and your kid will turn out illiterate. On the off chance you put in the hours to get promoted, your spouse hates you because you have left him/her with the majority of the childcare. You use your raise to pay for couples counseling out of anxiety that your divorce will mess up your children just when they were on the verge of being successful due to the expensive preschool.
Before Kids: After your weekly manicures and monthly haircuts, there was still enough money in the budget for a few shopping sprees at fashionable stores. Your spouse was blown away by how great you looked when you got dressed up, so, amazingly enough, PLMF.
After Kids: After your yearly trim at Supercuts, you still have 45 minutes until the sitter needs to leave. With this bonanza of free time, you rush to to Old Navy and buy some sale rack garment you will later eschew in favor of your old yoga pants after you realize that fitted clothes makes you look worse than usual.
Before Kids: You had many people, called "friends," that you enjoyed doing various activities with, including but not limited to: dinner, drinks, concerts, festivals, exercise, brunch, coffee. You spoke about interesting issues related to your lives and current events. You laughed often and genuinely.
After Kids: You have many encounters, called "playdates," that involve getting together with individuals who have children the same ages as yours. You have no idea if you have anything else in common because you never have the chance to talk about anything of consequence. You laugh uncomfortably when your kid hits their kid.
Before Kids: Parasailing or signing up for a half marathon? Going to a concert or booking a trip to Hawaii? Which way will the wind blow you today? You make me sick.
After Kids: Do guilt or self-doubt count as hobbies? What about buying kids clothes compulsively on the internet? I'm afraid I don't understand the question.
See more of my writing at drsamantharodman.blogspot.com.