We're in the midst of one of THOSE weeks. The kind full of fevers and crying and waking up 10 times a night to tend to sick children. The kind where you completely run on empty. It's at these times when I remember the way things were 'before' and really REALLY miss some things. Especially...
1. Sick days.
There is NOTHING I miss more about life before having kids than this. Before kids when I would wake up with a nasty cold or flu I would call in sick, get back in bed and sleep all day. The only times I would get up would be to use the washroom or perhaps make some soup or tea.
Now? Tough luck. You can't tell your children 'Hey, I seemed to have picked up a bug, but don't worry, I'll try to make it in tomorrow if I can'. You HAVE to get up. You have to deal. You feed, and change and chase them around all day.
I've nursed a baby and held a plastic bag while I had food poisoning. I've nursed a toddler after vomiting all night with the stomach flu, feeling myself dehydrate to the point of pain. I cradled a newborn around my IV line when I was hospitalized with bacterial meningitis so I could feed her protective antibodies. Even if your job forces you to come in sick, you can always go home and sleep it off overnight. But for me there is no night anymore. That feverish crying baby needs me and she doesn't know that I'm sick too.
The cruelest part is that while having kids takes away sick days, you end up getting sick more than you ever have in your life. They bring home every germ, infecting the whole family with things you didn't even know existed before. Having more than one child makes it worse- my oldest daughter gets it first from school, then infects her sister, father and I all at the same time. So we end up with one healthy child running wild, a sick baby to tend to and 2 useless parents.
2. The deep end.
I love swimming. We live across the road from a public pool and I try to go there with the kids as often as I can in the summer. It's fun, but it's just NOT the same. I always have someone in my arms. I'm constantly on high alert making sure nobody runs off and falls in. I'm always making sure nobody has just pooped or vomited in the pool (my kids in case we need to make a run for it, or someone else's so I can make sure my kids don't ingest it.)
I often stare longingly at the deep end in the pool. I remember what it's like to jump off the diving board, to go underwater, to float aimlessly, to lay on a towel and read, feeling the breeze on my back. It's been a long time since swimming has included any of those things.
3. Eating junk food during the day.
We want our kids to grow up eating healthy foods, so this is what we try to eat to set a good example:
It's not that we don't love these foods, and feel great eating them. But still, we get hungry. And the second the kids are in bed we want this:
Back when we could eat whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted to, we ate a lot less junk. But now when evening rolls around we JUST CANT HELP IT! Forbidden fruit (or in our case cupcakes) are always more tempting.
I've never been a huge party animal, but I always enjoyed my weekends. Before kids my husband and I went to a lot of restaurants with friends, to movies, on long bike rides. We went on day trips and overnights to other cities, we hosted food themed parties for all our friends. Every second of the weekend was OURS and we could do whatever we wanted. We try to do as much of that as we can with the kids in tow, but obviously it isn't the same. We have minimal babysitting options so we manage to make it out alone together about twice a YEAR, instead of twice a week.
This is what Saturday night looks like in our house now:
5. Looking out for #1.
I remember when I only had to worry about feeding and clothing myself. It took so little time! I would cook something that lasted for days, wash a few dishes, do a load of laundry maybe once a week. Once I met my husband it didn't change- I cooked for both of us, he did dishes and his own laundry. It was SO easy. Now? I do laundry every day. I am constantly washing dishes and preparing food. But the hardest part is constantly cleaning up this:
Some days I feel like I spend ALL my time cleaning up after other people. I'll be cleaning up one mess and they will be making another one faster than I can keep up.
6. Doing things without asking permission.
Before kids: Take a shower. End of story.
After kids: 'Sweeeeetie??'
'Can I take a shower?'
'I really smell.'
'But you just went to the grocery store by yourself. I need to go do my laundry and then mow the lawn.'
'Ok, but only if you let me have 20 minutes to eat lunch by myself later.'
Before having kids I had NO idea the kind of fierce negotiations involved with your partner in EVERYTHING you want and need to do. Time alone is rare currency that needs to be well spent. Using it to do necessary chores offers some leverage but still counts against you. I never, ever in a million years ever thought I would ever need to ask my husband permission to poop. But here we are.
7. Running to the store.
Before I had kids and I ran out of something, I could just zip out the door quickly and run to the store. If I had a craving for a slice of pizza I could wander down the road and grab one from the pizzeria. I could even take my sweet time. Now I have to be VERY careful that our house is well stocked. You can't ever leave your kids home alone, you have to drag them with you. But even then they might be sleeping, or sick, or require many many articles of clothing just to leave the house. It will take you 10 times longer to walk or drive there. Most of the time it's just not worth the effort.
The funny thing is that despite how much I miss these things, the reason I usually think about them isn't because I'm miserable, but because the opposite is true. I remind myself of the things I will have to look forward to again in a few years not in envy of my past self, but as a consolation prize for my future self for when these current days are over. Because as much as I loved the freedoms of life before kids, I know I'll never miss any of those things half as much as I'm going to miss the the things like this:
Or how sad I'll be when something as simple as this isn't the most exciting thing in their world.
It will break our hearts when hanging out with us is no longer their favorite thing to do, because we're not longer the coolest people in the universe anymore.
So yeah, someday I'll once again be able to enjoy a sick day in bed, a solitary swim and a movie or dinner with my husband whenever I want. I'll have an easy to clean house, the ability to go to the store whenever I want. I'll be able to sit down in the middle of the day and eat a cookie in plain sight. I won't have to beg permission to take a shower as if it were a week in Vegas. Things will get easy again all too fast, and that makes me very sad. I know it has to come some day, but I'm just not ready for it yet.