Enjoy It Now!

If I fuss, I’m not fussing at you. Unless I am, in which case, you might deserve it. But I fuss because I love. Or because I’m hungry and hormonal. One of those things.

I’m eager to join the Sorority of Motherhood, but a great deal about it mystifies me. Among the many things I wish I understood: Why do parents want to make expectant parents believe that parenthood is so awful?

I’m not talking about people who didn’t want kids, either. I’m talking about people who wanted and love their children. People who are happy for you when they find out you’re going to have one of your own.

People who are delighted to point out that YOUR LIFE IS OVER! Mwa ha ha!

Let me give you some examples.

Me: “We go to movies at the dollar theater about once a week.”

Other Parent:

You mean, you USED TO go to movies!

Okay, so obviously, I am about to hit a stage in my life when my evening entertainment options are going to be sharply curtailed. No impromptu nights at the ballet for me for a few years! But will having a baby really mean that I can’t join the other parents-of-babies in the back row of the DOLLAR THEATER once a week or so? I mean, it’s a buck. If I have to go out into the lobby, so be it. Oh, and it’s not as if I don’t have family and friends in town — not to mention a growing network of teenagers and young adults — who couldn’t watch Pablo for a couple of hours. 

Here’s another one:

Me: “I have a really busy weekend: class all day Saturday, and two different performances.”

Other Parent:

Ha! You don't even know what a busy weekend looks like yet!

You’re right. I’ve never had a busy weekend before. Quick, someone call early 2000s me and let me know how easy I’ve got it. Yes, of course I know that my life is going to get busier and busier as Pablo grows up, joins activities, and gains siblings. Heaven help me if he decides he wants to do soccer or ballet or something; I don’t think those parents ever see the insides of their homes. But given the wee tyke’s genetic makeup, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if those busy weekends consist of long trips to the library and occasional mathalons… which, trust me, will seem downright relaxing compared to this past weekend or to just about any weekend I ever had throughout college.

A standard theme:

Me: “I found a cute shirt on sale the other day.”

Other Parent:

You'll never buy clothes for yourself again -- enjoy it now!

Dude. I shop at Ross, thrift stores, and clearance racks. Yeah, I’m a little bit enamored of the Tiny Clothes Section, and I know he’ll grow out of every thing the minute I put it on him. But somehow I don’t think I’ll magically lose the ability to clothe myself just because I’m a mom… and even if I do put my clothing-purchasing energies into kiddy clothes, that’s okay because I’m still enjoying myself. Right?

Here’s a recent favorite:

Me: “I’m enjoying the fact that I just got my car washed and vacuumed.”

Other Parent:

Your car will never be clean again!!!

Okay, so, really? I’m not a neat freak (as my mom reads this, she is probably laughing out loud) and I’ve never really prioritized having a spotless car. Heck, I’m one of those teachers who basically lives out of her car during the school year. Yesterday, as a gift/payment for some help I gave Ryan with his student council stuff (hey, I’m not above being bribed) I got my car washed and lightly detailed. It’s the first time that it’s been really clean since we bought it, and you know how much time it took? Half an hour. Do I know that kids stain upholstery and stuff Cheerios and pacifiers in places that you didn’t even know your car had? Of course I do! But do you know how many ooooold homework assignments, flattened granola bars, lost (unopened) cans of Coke, and forgotten thrift store book purchases you can find between the seat cushions on a car that has NEVER had a child in it? Because I do. And besides, just because there’s a car seat back there doesn’t mean that anyone is going to tell me:

you shall not wash your car

I guess it’s just kind of getting to the point where I feel like people really want to make sure I know that

being a parent sucks

which is weird, because I know none of them actually believe that. Quite the opposite, actually. So maybe they’re just trying to tell me that

being a parent is hard and different

Nevertheless, it’s kind of off-putting. I’d been warned to expect horror stories about childbirth (which I don’t mind, actually, but which I haven’t really encountered) but not really about the onslaught of ENJOY IT NOW comments.

The thing is… I’m 32 years old, which I guess isn’t very old, but I’ve been married for almost nine years and have wanted to have a baby for several of those. We put it off for reasons of finances/job stability/insurance. Then, when we felt like our life situation had caught up with our desire to expand our family, we began trying — and had no luck. We went to doctors, did invasive tests, took medicine that made me very ill, injected hormones into my stomach, had to make split-second decisions about risky interventions. We spent surreptitious moments investigating the costs and logistics of adoption. We watched, sick at heart, while people we knew got pregnant with babies they didn’t want and, in some cases, didn’t have. We fought back feelings of bitterness and jealousy when we wanted to be congratulatory and happy for friends. We rode the neverending roller coaster of hope, results, and despair. Then we got pregnant, and then we had a miscarriage. And it was horrible. And then we got pregnant again, and this time it stuck.

God in heaven, we are ready for a little bit of stinky, fussy, time-consuming inconvenience in our lives. We are ready to not just be Ryan-and-Kate. We are ready to stop falling through the crack between “young singles” and “married with kids”; we’re ready to be able to put up family photos and to not be thoughtlessly scolded by students and relatives who want to know if we aren’t getting a little old to have not had any kids yet. We are ready for milk stains, soggy Cheerios, dirty diapers, soccer practices, ballet recitals, all-night barfing marathons, Chuck E Cheese…

Will I go on Facebook and exclaim at how different — how hard — how busy — my new life is? Almost certainly.

Will I complain sometimes? Probably — especially if there’s vomit involved. Or poop-painting. That’s gonna be “fun”.

But I wanted this. I want this.

So bring on the interrupted and skipped movies, busy weekends, outdated wardrobes, and dirty cars. I am more than ready.

My life isn’t over. My life — the life where I get to grow old surrounded by my children and grandchildren, the life where I get to do the one thing that seems truly important to me — is just beginning.


7 thoughts on “Enjoy It Now!

  1. This is a really great post and I’d love to see it go viral, because I think this is something people say without realizing they’re being assholes. It is another chapter in the Mommy Wars, and it is somewhat based on jealousy.

    It’s going to be different and great, and you’re going to be awesome at it.

  2. See….that’s the part that’s always been SO offputting about the THOUGHT of having kids. Everyone seems to delight in telling you the horror stories. My mom, on learning that I abhor blood tests? Uttered the phrase “just wait until you get pregnant”. When I was 18 and complaining about having thrown out my back by wearing a big bass drum on a snare harness? They told me “just wait til you get pregnant – you can’t take *that* off at the end of a parade!”

    Which made me? NEVER want to be pregnant! And it got worse when my friends started having kids, and I’d listen to *them* bitch. Because honestly, I don’t think that any of these folks really, desperately wanted to have their kids when they had them, and so they don’t appreciate them the way you (and Ryan) do, after all you’ve been through

    *I* know just how much you want this wee one – and his eventual siblings. And for *those* parents – the ones who would give their right AND left arm to have a baby (if it didn’t mean that they wouldn’t get to hold said baby once they had them) I honestly don’t think it’ll be that bad. You’re a master (mistress?) of juggling priorities – and when baby makes three, I know he’ll be that priority – and all the little “annoyances” that your “friends” are talking about? Won’t matter. Because the *baby*, *your happiness*, *your family* is what matters. The rest is just Home and Gardens and jealous “had kids before they were *really* ready to have them friends” trying to tell you to be something else.


  3. And In a few years YOU will be the one saying these annoying things to expectant parents and childless couples. Being all smug and knowing. Just you wait! It happens to the best of us:)

  4. Oh, man. I love this post so, so much. Hits so close to home. A friend recently made the car comment to me, and I told her I can’t freaking wait to find raisins under my car seats. Please, God, don’t let me ever give my pregnant friends weird, unwarranted advice. (For the record, I don’t think I will… and I don’t think you will, either.)

  5. Haha, this made me laugh! My husband’s family wouldn’t stop bugging us about when we would have a baby. Now that I am finally pregnant, they are constantly wearing those smirks on their faces telling us how apparently our lives are about to end and how we couldn’t imagine the difficulties lying ahead of us. Fortunately, I have quite a few friends with children who still seem to find life worth living…

  6. i know I’m late to this party, but I’m going to attend anyway. So, I actually found that my priorities, interests and ability to focus were enhanced by motherhood. And I think that my life actually started–in many ways–when i had a kidlet. Not ended. Yes, I had to plan ahead more and I “missed out” on some spontaneous nonsense, but the fact of the matter is I made the choice to be a parent and I understood that that choice meant that I was less available for other choices.

    I rank the above types of comments about parenthood on the same rung with the comments that people make about their “worthless, nagging, lazy, incompetent, whathaveyou” spouses. That ranking is pretty low. And both classes of comments cause me to blink repeatedly at the person with no comment.

    People choose their spouses, so if they think that their spouse is lazy, incompetent, nagging, worthless, whathaveyou, then (in my mind) their opinion about the choices I make can’t be trusted. Additionally, people ultimately choose to be parents–with all the lifestyle changes that the choice entails. And if their comments about parenthood are so negative and ill-informed that they can’t help but to smugly tell others that parenthood “sucks,” I’m not that interested in their opinions either. I will acknowledge that parenthood is hard, just like marriage is hard. But I try very hard to separate my opinion and bias about how I feel about both from the experience of someone else.

    And I find that even during the trying times all the relationships that I CHOOSE to cultivate (with my son, with my girlfriend, with my friends, etc.) are worth the minor inconveniences that come with not living a completely insular, non-social, non-productive life.

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