Life Before and After Becoming a Parent is So, So Different
I remember the shock and amazement of how much having a baby changed my life, but sometimes I’m still startled by how different life is for those who have kids versus those who don’t.
I think one of the most significant differences is the readjustment of attitude. Parents usually have a totally different opinion of what matters than non-parents. Non-parents think that the cleanliness of the carpeting inside their car is important. Non-parents don’t truly appreciate their free time. Non-parents arrive at places on time.
Moms and dads have learned to accept that their house will never be spotless until the kids leave home and don’t sweat the sticky fingerprints on the couch (well, not too much.) They savor the moments when the little ones are napping or at Grandma’s. We are late, or on time but forgot the diaper bag or someone has odd shoes on.
But non-parents can never truly realize what it’s like to become a mom or dad, and just how different life is with children.
There’s a little bit of a spat going on at the apartment building where I live. Our basement storage area flooded last week. I had help moving my stuff from one end of the basement to the other, out of the flood. But having my toddler, a crawling daycare baby and an occasional kindergartner to look after, a full-time evening job and the only person available to help also having two jobs and having a million issues with his own kids, the stuff did not get put back.
Other (childless) people who live in the building couldn’t believe I didn’t put it back immediately after the flood receded and started complaining and threatening to have it hauled away. Right now I have either two or three small children to look after and I’m working full time in the evenings. Sometimes I even sleep.
What’s important to me? Having enough money to pay the rent, and just enough left over to occasionally treat my son and sometimes fall off a wall for kicks. Living healthy and responsibly, trying to be active and eat right and be as environmentally friendly as I can be. But the most important thing is my son. If he is healthy and happy then the world is ok. And while other things are important, nothing else really matters enough to get truly upset over.
I care about the building that I live in and I didn’t want to upset anyone. I just wasn’t expecting the amount of vitriol over the temporarily untidy basement and the total lack of sympathy to the impossible problem of moving furniture and large boxes while carrying a baby and not dropping anything on a toddler.
I’m almost happy for the people complaining, and spending so much mental energy over it, that it’s the most pressing issue that they have to deal with. Wouldn’t my life be sweet if the worst thing I had to worry about was things in the basement? Let’s pick just a couple of the current issues in my life: I can’t afford to repair my car, my parents are breaking up.
So I dragged myself downstairs tonight after the kids were asleep and chucked boxes and bits of furniture back to where they were supposed to be and now I’m exhausted and working and feeling cross that some childless people don’t get how different it is with children. Gee, I hope that they are happy now.
I don’t expect special treatment because I’m a mom. After all, I chose to have a baby. But it would be nice if certain childless people could be prepared to have just a little appreciation of what is possible for a mom to do with her kids in tow.