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5 Things I Love As a Mom That I Never Thought I Would

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

To say your life changes when you become a mom is a pretty sizable understatement. Mine changed rather dramatically over a very short period of time. One minute I was single, had tons of girl and guy friends, and was going out 3-6 nights a week, living a carefree, moment-to-moment existence. I was the cliched single girl in the city -- I even wrote about my crazy single life for Chicago magazine as their nightlife and dating columnist for seven years, and blogged under the moniker "Last Girl Standing." Yeah, yeah, I know -- Carrie Bradshaw 2.0. I lived most of my adult life this way -- very responsible in my professional endeavors, but very live-by-the-seat-of-my-pants in my personal life. I almost never went grocery shopping for myself, never cooked, never cleaned, was never on time, never did anything that anyone would deem responsible. That is, until I met Jay...

Even after first settling down, I still wasn't very good at the typical girlfriend-turned-fiancee-turned wife stuff. He was the one who kept things running smoothly around the house -- it actually got to a point when he literally had to confiscate the mail key from me, because I was (and still am) notoriously bad at checking mail (and voicemail). It was the perfect union: I was the carefree, go-with-the-flow one; he was the Type A organized, clean one. But I was very good at being the social coordinator -- when it came to that, you could always count on me!

Then the honeymoon stage in our marriage wore off and Jay started to get annoyed with my carefree attitude about those wifely duties like doing the dishes, keeping an organized and clean house even when we weren't having company over, keeping the fridge stocked, dry-cleaning picked up, laundry done, bills paid on time, etc. (Not that he expected me to do all of it, but I wasn't exactly pulling my weight.) And I wrote this blog a little less than a year ago, proclaiming that I was “missing the housewife gene” -- which I know offended a lot of people, but was absolutely not meant to (and let's please not open that topic up for more debate, I'm having an epiphany here).

Then something really strange happened. Our roles reversed. I'm not exactly sure when it happened...sometime over the last 10 months I became a dish-washing, house-cleaning, toys-putting-away, turn-the-lights-off, nap nazi. Babies will do that to you -- I think parents crave routine almost as much as the kids do. I find myself doing things now that I never thought I would do, much less enjoy.

1.Grocery shopping. I love it. It’s my zen time. I don’t dread going to the grocery store like I used to -- now, I see aisles and aisles of endless opportunities to make delicious meals for my family. (Or at least attempt to.)

2.Target runs. I guess this is similar to the one above, but any excuse to go to Target gets me excited. We need a new filter for the vacuum? I’ll go! I hit a new Target yesterday in the ‘burbs that I had never been to before, and I haven’t stopped thinking about how clean and well stocked it was, much better than the one by our house.

3.Cooking. I love cooking dinner! I knew there was a cook in me somewhere -- my mom and grandmother are/were both great cooks -- but cooking for one isn’t so much fun. Cooking for three is much more rewarding, even if that third person is likely to throw your food on the floor. I try to cook dinner for the family once a week (if I had time to prepare meals more often I would). I cook dinner for Preston every night, even if that means making chicken nuggets, fries and a vegetable for him. I even enjoy doing that! And on weekends, he gets a home-cooked breakfast and lunch too, if we don’t eat out. I get such pleasure out of him eating the food I make.

4.Cleaning. This one still shocks me. Ask any of my friends, I HATED washing dishes, hated doing any kind of cleaning around the house, or laundry. (I also lived without a dishwasher and laundry machine of my own for like seven years.) But now, you won’t find a dirty dish in my kitchen sink, like almost ever. I hate the feeling of knowing there’s something dirty just lying around…it’s odd, I know. And now it’s me getting mad at my husband if he doesn’t clean up after himself. Me! I’m the anal one now. I’m the one constantly cleaning up, putting toys away, doing dishes, running loads of laundry on the weekends… I can’t sit down at night until I know everything is put back in its rightful place. And there’s nothing I love more at night than a clean house, with all the lights out, that smells of freshly done laundry. It gives me peace.

5. Staying in on the weekends. This is probably the most ironic, coming from a former nightlife columnist who went out to bars and parties for a living. I LOVE being home with my husband, son and dog on weekends, doing family stuff. We should probably make more of an effort to go out and have a social life again -- we actually went out to dinner on Saturday night with our cousins, for no other reason than to catch up with them and have some fun -- but I had a raging headache from the two martinis I drank, so it made going sledding with Preston on Sunday a little less enjoyable. One day I’ll learn my limit on the alcohol. But for now, going out on the weekends is usually reserved for special occasions.

I’d rather be running at full capacity during the day so I can be an energetic mom for Preston. I am certainly not saying that I’m a perfect wife and mom -- far from it (just ask the hubby). I still have a long way to go in taking care of other things -- for example, I still have a semi-working cell phone that only functions as a text-messaging device; I’m still terrible at checking (and quickly responding to) voicemails; I’m very bad at getting thank-you cards written and sent in a timely fashion (same goes for holiday cards, which we skipped altogether this year); and I wait till the last minute on certain things like signing Preston up for swim class, which he just started this weekend.

As a working mom, I’m doing the best I can with the little “free” time I have. (As far as taking care of myself, I have a long way to go in that department too.) But it’s baby steps, right? What do you like (or hate) doing as a mom that you never thought you would?