A couple days ago, I came across this article in the Huffington Post, lovingly titled "Once We Become Parents We Don't Want to Hang Out With You Anymore (But Not for the Reasons You Think)". Immediately this caught my attention, so I clicked on it, and read it.
OHH EMM GEE. 110% spot on. Christine, YES, to all of it.
After I posted it on Facebook with basically this exact same sentiment, I felt like I needed to justify myself a wee-bit about some of the points as to why I agree so much with this article. So here it goes.
Pre-baby, heck, pre-marriage, I had a few friends who were already married and/or had kids. I could not understand why they couldn't squeeze in a lunch date or movie date here and there with me. I was frustrated and stopped asking, assuming (yeah, never assume, right?!) that they just didn't like me anymore and I was not important enough for a 45 minute lunch date. I even would think, "Gosh, can't their hubby watch the kid and they could come hang with me for an hour? Or, "The housework will be there later, I'm here now." Ohhhh, Alex, how naive you were.
Fast-forwarded to now: I actually have a pit in my stomach typing this--what I felt like and assumed about my friends when they would decline my invites. I can't even believe that I thought this or felt this way. So I am apologizing to you now, even though I never said these feelings to you: I'm sorry for assuming that you just didn't like me, didn't want to hang out, or couldn't take an hour away from your family life for me...oh how wrong wrong wrong I was.
Until you have a kid (or kids--I'm sure I'll add to this post once more little Mooneys enter this world), you have no idea what it's like. Yes, you can imagine, yes people can tell you all about their awful and awesome experiences, but until you are in those parenting shoes, you cannot even gauge what it is like to have kids. And please don't take this as snotty or spiteful--it most definitely is not meant that way if it's coming off like that--it is purely to inform that until you have a little kiddo of your own, you can't imagine what it's like to actually have one. Hence my apology to my first baby-having friends.
Sort of like Christine did in her article, I thought I'd make a little list of things--probably the same things that my friends-who-wouldn't-do-lunch-dates-with-me-once-they-had-kids realized, that I didn't see because I was being too selfish.
*Disclaimer: I love my life, my hubby, and my kid (& fur baby) more than anything in the entire world. I wouldn't change one single thing in our lives, and I desperately want more kids to contribute to the chaos and all of this. I am writing this, as Christine did in her article, to explain why we aren't jerks, why we aren't avoiding you, and why we can't just pick up and go to that baseball game with you.
1. Childcare runs your life. This is not an exaggeration at all. Since both me and the hubs work, childcare is always on the forefront of our minds. All of our conversations--either phone or text--while we're at work revolve around 1. who's picking up the kid 2. what time they're picking him up 3. if he's still napping when/who will get him 4. what time we'll all be home and then what we're having for dinner. Luckily we are so fortunate and blessed to have family watch Patrick 100% of the time when we need childcare, especially since Mike's schedule fluctuates with hours and days off. However, we are in constant contact with them about who's watching Patrick when, what time, and where. We even have a shared calendar to keep everything straight. If Mike and I get tickets to the Cardinals game, a dinner invite, or know there's a function that we want to attend sans kids, we seek out a babysitter...immediately. Well, first we check Mike's crazy-no-rhyme-or-reason-to-it schedule, then, if he's off or not working at that time, we seek out a babysitter (this is an added step that cops (or any shiftworkers) have to deal with). Pre-baby, I use to roll my eyes at our friends who said, "Shoot! We can't come because we don't have a babysitter." Again, I'm sorry friends. Finding a babysitter--even with tons of family so close!--is not easy. They have lives, schedules, and plans too. Sometimes we miss out on functions because we don't have anyone to watch the kid. Childcare 100% runs our lives.
2. Your kid's sleep (& sleep schedule) is the most important thing EVER. Again, I would roll my eyes at friends who said, "Oh, we can't come, that's during Billy's nap time." Ohhhh, how stupid I was. I cannot tell you how many times we've had afternoon events and we either 1. didn't go altogether 2. left incredibly early so Patrick could get home for his nap or 3. (back to #1) had to find a babysitter so we could go cause it was during nap time. Have you ever seen an overly-tired kid? One word: DEMON. They are upset cause they are tired, get themselves too hysterically upset because they're mad...that they're tired...then they can't go to sleep. You then are spending "nap time" trying to calm them down so they can go to sleep, then their schedule gets all messed up since they fell asleep late and ohhhhh no, bedtime is messed up them. This happens if we try and push back nap (or even bed time) too much. Yes, my kid goes to bed by 8:30pm. No, he can't just fall asleep "where we are" and go to bed when we get home--that works for newborns, not toddlers. My kid needs his sleep, in his bed, at his bedtime, and I need him to sleep for my sanity. It makes no sense, but when kids are overly tired, they sleep worse: they are restless because they are so tired, which usually results in one or more wake-ups in the middle of nap or night time sleeping. No me gusta. Therefore, if we have an event come up that conflicts with Patrick's sleep schedule, we usually revert back to #1--find childcare.
3. Bringing the kid is never the easier option. Please note I said easier. This is common sense: the more people you have going somewhere, the more stuff you gotta bring. I quite enjoy bringing my son places with me, but boy, it would be easier (not necessarily better, or more fun, just easier) if it were just me going on a grocery run or hitting the dollar section at Target. I remember I would always tell my friends-with-kids, "Oh, just bring her with you!" and they'd still decline my invite, and I'd get peeved. Yeah, now I know why. It sure is not easy going to lunch with a one-year-old in tow. Not only do I have to bring a stockpile of entertainment (toys, books, games) for the kid, but I also have to bring food, a bib, spoon, and then make sure that this date doesn't take place anywhere close to his nap time, or else a whiny, tired, demon-boy comes out. When the kid is in tow, his needs are always first, so I'm sorry if I don't give you my full attention, I'm making sure my kid doesn't start chewing on a knife or launch his sippy cup at the next table. Sometimes, and just being honest, those types of soirees are more of a hassle than enjoyable.
4. Planning in advanced makes us very happy. Usually, if we want to do something--or get invited somewhere, it requires advanced planning--so a babysitter can be properly secured and other schedules and events can be planned around whatever we're going to. "Oh, we have a birthday party this night, so Patrick can spend the night at grandmas, then during the day I can go to the grocery store and clean the living room while he naps because I won't be able to do this that evening because we're going to a party." Advanced planning is key--it allows us to find a babysitter early, and gives mama and dad something to look forward to. Sporadic events seldom happen around these parts; hardly ever do we take those Cardinals tickets a friend called us to give us because (back to #1) we'd have to find a babysitter and we may have already had other exciting (aka housework, laundry, etc...) stuff planned.
5. My kid is my priority. I will happily decline an invite from you if I want to spend time with my kid...and not feel the least bit guilty about it. Sometimes, I may have nothing to do, and I could totally probably find a babysitter and hit that restaurant with you, but I just don't want to, because I'd rather play with my kid. This is nothing against you--I still love you and think you're awesome and love whatever time we do get to hang out together--but my kid comes before you. End of story. All of my points tie into this one: we do what's best for our kid, and if that means not going out with friends, or passing up free concert tickets, or not going to that BBQ because it's during nap time, we do that, because it's what's best for our son, and for our family. We don't love you less, nor is it a slap against you, it just means that our priorities are our kids now. Once you have a kiddo of your own, you'll see we're not jerks, we just love these tiny humans we made more than anything else in the whole wide world.