I just want to step back in here and say: My dad is an awesome dad. He wasn’t a big hands-on guy when we were very little, although I’m sure he did his share of diaper changing and bath giving. It’s just that “his share” of that kind of stuff was small, and that was okay “back then” as they say. My dad — like many men of his generation — worked, and he worked hard and he worked long hours. And my mom stayed home when we were young, until my sister was going into first grade.
The golf trips that my friend N mentioned happened when we were teens. My mother had a golf night each Wednesday when we were teens, too — it was our night to eat at Rax’s (anyone else remember Rax’s?).
My dad has some thoughts too, in yesterday’s comments, and he makes some good points.
As for me, I got married when I was 30 years old, and I didn’t start actively parenting until I was 33.
That’s a lot of years of “me time”. I got used to it.
When we become parents, we do sacrifice a lot for our children. It’s automatic, and it’s for the good of all — ourselves, our children, society. “Having a baby changes everything” is totally cliched, but oh so (and sometimes painfully) true.
Remember when “running to the store” meant putting on your shoes and walking out the door? You could stop along the way, listen to music as loud as you wanted — or, even better, listen to NPR. You could add on other errands or pick up other stuff as you thought of it. You could stop for a coffee or a beer if you wanted.
As a mother, there is no “running out the door”. Instead, there is “loading up” to run errands. Or, an errand, because trying to do too many errands with children is just asking for trouble. Diapers, snacks, toys and/or books, any tool in your arsenal to occupy a bored toddler and prevent a meltdown. Plus you have to time it just right — too close to nap time, and you are begging for an explosion in the check-out line.
And then there is couple time. In order to have a date, there are babysitters to find and hire; there are logistics to leaving the house. DearDR and I do not have this down yet. We have not committed to a date night, either in or out of the house, weekly or monthly; we have gone through about five babysitters since moving out to the suburbs. We treat it like a big pain instead of an opportunity to spend time with each other. It’s hurting us.
I’m not going to turn this into a “think twice before you have kids” conversation, or a whine about having kids. I love my children. They are the greatest thing I will ever do in my life. I do not for one second regret having them.
But having children and responsible parenting are not small little changes. They are upheavals. I’m four-and-a-half years in, and I’m still feeling them. I’ll be feeling them to some extent for the rest of my life — the parenting gig doesn’t end when they leave the house, as my parents would sagely point out.
Accepting these sacrifices and changes doesn’t mean that I don’t miss just “running to the store”. It doesn’t mean that I don’t miss just being able to go see a movie or lay around in bed all day Sunday with my husband. I do miss those things. I miss being able to recharge at night, by myself. But I signed up for this, and I have to find a way to survive on less, much less, “me time”.
I’m not doing that great. (See also “Lack” where I address this in another way.)