It’s not like I didn’t know things would change after having kids. Everyone warned me that life would never be the same, but like so many things related to parenting, you don’t really get it until it actually happens to you. Before Kids (or B.K.) was like a whole lifetime ago. Besides my svelte figure and (mostly) flat stomach, here are a few other things I gave up when I gave kids.
Everyone expects to go short on sleep with a new baby. But what they don’t tell you is you’re unlikely to get an uninterrupted night of sleep for years, especially if you have more than one kid. My youngest has nightmares and needs to be cuddled back to sleep. Almost every night, my four-year-old wanders into our bedroom in the middle of the night and has to be escorted back to her own bed. I’m pretty sure I haven’t slept a night through in the past five years, but I may be too sleep-deprived to remember correctly.
2. A Clean House
Before kids, I was the one with the spotless, neat as a pin house. Bwa ha ha! Now the only time the house is vaguely tidy (which means don’t look in the closet!) is when company comes over. I’m not even talking about the mess the kids make. I’m talking about a random assortment of art supplies, kids’ pictures, unopened bank statements, empty boxes, ripped books waiting for repair, an iron (huh?), a buttercup squash that didn’t fit in the cupboard underneath, and everything else I want to get out of the kids’ reach, piled up on my kitchen island. And don’t even look in my spare room!
3. A Pretty Backyard
We bought our house with the big backyard dreaming of little children at play, tea parties with fancy hats, and listening to laughs and giggles coming in the window. Laughs and giggles yes, but have you seen my yard? On second thought, you really shouldn’t. Tee had a little friend over to play the other day, and she got caught on an overgrown rosebush. Yikes! We pay someone to mow the “lawn” now. Weeding? Pshaw. I’ve seriously considered how much of my yard I could I pave without getting funny looks from the neighbours.
4. My Trip to Europe
When I was working on my graduate degree, I spent hours planning a 3 week celebratory vacation to Europe after graduation. I had a whole itinerary drawn up including stops in England, Wales, France, and Italy. But we decided to start a family instead. I’m not saying I’d trade my kids for a vacation, but I’m counting down the days until they’re old enough to leave with friends while we take a holiday by ourselves.
5. Adult TV
No, I’m not talking about that kind of adult TV! It’s hard not to get tired of a diet of Dora, Sesame Street, and Clifford the Big Red Dog reruns. Just once I’d like to watch Game of Thrones when I want to instead of sneaking it late at night like it’s the other kind of adult entertainment.
6. Personal Boundaries
When you’re a parent, it feels like your body is no longer your own. I’m not just talking about pregnancy and breastfeeding. I’m also talking about my kids thinking it’s totally normal to stick their feet up my shirt, casually hand me their boogers, and hang off me like a human jungle gym, all without so much as a by your leave.
Before someone jumps in to accuse me of being selfish or whiny, I’m very aware that I chose all of this. I chose to have kids, and I would never, ever choose differently. Yes I chose this life and by extension, I chose to give up all these things. That doesn’t mean I can’t complain about it though, especially when it’s tongue in cheek like this. Humour helps us get through the tough times, and parenting has plenty of tough times – you know this! And it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate everything I have received in exchange.
Sure, enjoying the beaches in Nice and touring Rome would be beautiful, but so is waking up with my healthy family every day. A messy house full of laughing kids is a happy house (as I keep reminding myself), and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for a clean floor and manicured yard. Even though there are definitely times I contemplate running away from home for 30 minutes of peace and quiet without someone demanding oranges or yelling for me from the bathroom, the rest of the time I know it’s all worth it.