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Do You Have a Life Outside Your Kids?

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

I’ll be the first to admit it: I am 100 percent guilty of dedicating all my free time to my son. I say this all the time, but he truly is the center of our universe. Whether or not this is healthy for our marriage (or our son) is debatable, but it’s what we do—and it makes us happy. I suspect it might have something to do with the fact that he’s currently our only child, as a result of going through infertility—we cherish every minute we spend with him. I also suspect this devotion of time to Preston is also a result of being a full-time working mom.

Before you judge me, consider this: I spend at least 45 hours a week away from my heart and soul. I spent my formative single years as a totally self-indulgent girl-about-town who had little to no responsibilities other than eating, sleeping, working and going out to bars and parties for a living.

Now? I’m a devoted mother who works very hard to support my family, juggling two demanding careers—a full-time job as the managing editor of a leading online travel site, and a freelance writer for as well as other publications.

There isn’t much time in between work and family. And I’m okay with that. I used to be someone who barely used her home for more than a place to change her clothes and catch a few hours of sleep. Now I’m a homebody, whose idea of a “good time” is  ordering in a cheese pizza with Preston and watching “Annie” cuddled up in my bed (I love that he loves that movie!). It's one of my favorite things to do.

When I get home from work, I snap right into Mommy mode, change into comfy clothes, and get down on the floor and play with Preston. He and my husband will hide when they hear me coming home, we play a little game of hide-and-seek, and then somehow I end up riding around the condo on his Plasma car while he chases me. I play trains and cars with him; letters; puzzles; band; chalk; read books; eat the pretend dinner he makes me; anything he wants. I’m his go-to play mate, in lieu of a sibling.

Am I exhausted at the end of my long and intense workday? Hell yes. Do I want to do these things every single night? Hell no. Sometimes I'd love to just curl up and read “Conquering Infertility,” or write my own book, or this blog, or start on other freelance assignments that I'm usually behind on. Or you know? Do NOTHING. I want to get in bed and zone out to The Real Housewives or Pregnancy in Heels (which I usually do once Preston has gone to bed, around 9 p.m.). But try saying "no" to that face... His wants and needs will always trump mine—he deserves his mom at night, and he'll always get that, no matter how tired I am.

It’s a long day, not gonna lie, and I’m very tired at the end of it. So, frankly, the last thing I want to do anymore is go out to dinner, have drinks, or do anything outside of the home. It takes a lot to get us out of the house these days... We've become those people.

My husband and I recently made a pact that we’d make an effort to have a “date night” once a month. I know…once a month…big deal, right? It is a big deal for us, especially lately. We both want to be home, doing things with our son, taking him to the park after work, spending time with him on weekends. Setting aside time for our marriage has been a challenge lately, but in our defense we did spend a whole week in Mexico with our friends (sans kids) this past December, which was a much-needed real vacation.

Last night we actually ventured out, to sit in a suite at Wrigley Field for the Cubs/Tigers game (the Cubs won!)—I wouldn’t have gone if the invite hadn't included all three of us. Preston had a BLAST—we ate hot dogs and ice cream and hung out with our cousins. Preston’s at an age now that he’s actually fun to bring to things like this—he socialized with more people than we did. When he has a blast I have an even better time.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say we don’t have a life outside of Preston—I mean, I do have my career, which takes up a big chunk of my time. Preston takes up the rest of it. Is that so wrong?

Follow me @spgorensteinFriend me on FacebookEmail me. Read my entry for the3six5 project.