I am going to preface this post by saying that I love my children. And I cannot imagine my life without them. On Saturday morning, all four of us were cuddling in my bed and Alex was making Nora smile with his off-key rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” and I thought, it doesn’t get any better than this. I am so lucky to have these little miracles in my life. And, if it’s possible, I might like to have a third someday. All of that said, there are definitely moments when I think, holy $%$$ this parenthood business is insane. Like five minutes after the above Hallmark moment when Alex dove head first off my bed (“I’m OK, mom!”) then took my water glass off my nightstand and, while trying to dump it in the bathroom sink (part of his morning routine—he’s the water police), spilled the entire thing on the floor and then informed me that he pooped in his diaper “just like Nora Jane, mom.” So, yeah, I’m going to say it: Sometimes I miss things I used to enjoy before I became a mom. Like mornings that don’t involve dirty diapers. Plural.
How could I not want to wake up to these two? (We're still working on Alex's cheese face).
Nick and I will often reminisce about our lives BC. We recently spent an entire dinner reliving every trip we’ve ever taken together going all the way back to the first one—senior year when we roadtripped from Knoxville to Flint with Joe Boike. I met Nick’s parents for the first time and then we went to East Lansing to party at MSU and the next day drove Joe’s mom’s minivan back to UT—and instead of a backseat Nick sat in a wicker chair. And we skidded off the road in a snowstorm and had to call AAA for a tow. Classic.
Are we living in the past? Hardly. The thing is I think it’s totally normal—and totally healthy—to admit that in some ways life was easier/more fun/better before you became a parent. In some ways. (Very small, insignificant ways as you'll see below.) And it’s actually kind of fun to think about what they are so I hope you’ll join me. But first, in no particular order, here is what I miss most about my old life:
- A flatter stomach. I can’t say I miss having a flat stomach because I have never had one. Not ever. Even when I had brideorexia before my wedding and was the skinniest I’d ever been in my life, I still had to remind myself to suck it in. But now? After housing two above-average-sized babies, my stomach is gushy and smooshy and bulges out of everything I wear.
- Sleeping past 7:30 a.m. I really shouldn’t complain when it comes to sleep because despite having a fairly new baby I am not at all deprived of it. Alex started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks and—knock on wood a thousand times—has never looked back. Nora is the same (so far—knock on wood a million times that it stays this way). Still, having to be awake and on at an hour that used to be ungodly to me feels a little unfair some days.
- Watching whatever I want on TV—whenever I want. Don’t get me wrong, I get in my TV time. I’m currently a religious watcher of the following fine programming: Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, American Idol, Modern Family, 30 Rock, The Office and Forgetting Sarah Marshall whenever it happens to be on HBO because somehow it gets funnier every time. So I’m not exactly Amish but I can’t watch any of my shows when Alex is around and I’ve stopped vegging out with Nora during the day (my maternity leave is officially over!), which doesn’t leave much time for tubing. Last week it took me two days to get through a 22-minute episode of 30 Rock. The horror!
- The hours between 6 and 9 p.m. This is when we feed Alex, bathe Alex, bathe Nora, feed Nora, put Alex to bed, put Nora to bed and, oh yeah, feed ourselves dinner that hopefully did not come from a delivery man, which means cooking and cleaning as well. In other words, it is all hands on deck in the Ruddy house. Nick and I have it down to a science and it usually goes off without a hitch (we’re sometimes helped by a little Diego or Backyardigans), but there is no deviating from the mission or we pay for it. It’s not like in the olden days when we’d get home from work and chill out in front of the TV for two hours. Or go to the gym. Or have a drink. Or do nothing at all. Ah, the olden days….
- Working late. Nick and I tailored our careers so that we would have lots of time for our family. That means come 5 o’clock (usually 4:30 for me), we walk away from our computers and rarely get a chance to get back on until the next day. Or later that night after we’re fried from our 6-9 power parenting. The problem? I like working (and I have to work). I used to complain about the long hours I logged at my old job but you know what? There is something to be said for eating a burrito at your desk when you’re on a roll.
- Staying up late. See “sleeping past 7:30, above.” Last weekend we went out with another couple who don’t have children yet. We had cocktails and dinner and even moved to the bar for a drink afterward. It was So. Much Fun. But at 10:15 Nick and I looked at each other and nodded. We had to go. For one, we had a babysitter to relieve (my mom, but still…) and, more importantly, we knew if we weren’t in bed soon the next day was going to suck. Our friends stayed out till 1 a.m. 1 a.m.! I haven’t seen that hour on purpose in a looooong time.
- Being alone. I am definitely not a big “alone time” person but now that I have kids there is almost no point when I am truly by myself and not a: working, or b: sleeping. Even going to the bathroom or taking a shower is no longer sacred. Somebody is always up in my grill.
I could go on (traveling sans entourage, cursing, a kitchen floor that stays clean, etc…) but I should stop before this list gets too long—and I get too depressed. Kidding! This was actually a fun exercise. And now it’s your turn: What do you miss most from your life before kids?
Al and me on St Patty's Day last week (again with the cheese face...)
Nora at 9 weeks!!!