Being a parent changes everything. It changes your thoughts about the world, about life and its meaning. It changes the kind of house you live in, the food you eat and even the kind of clothing you wear.
I imagine that if I wasn’t a parent, I might feel like becoming one was the worse idea ever. Why would anyone put themselves through all that? It takes time, money and really intense effort to be a good parent. You worry about things you never used to worry about.
When you look for a house to live in, instead of considering the proximity to your job, the closest sushi bar, and whether or not it had a great view, you would be looking for at least 3 bedrooms, plenty of closet space, and a big yard with a tree sturdy enough for a tire swing.
When you buy food, instead of experimenting with different exotic fruits and vegetables and buying things that are good for your waistline, you have to buy food that your child will at least try to choke down. Essentials are peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese and chicken tenders (breaded, of course).
If you were childless, you could choose any restaurant that caught your fancy, be seated without asking for a booster chair, and enjoy a great meal with adult conversation or no conversation if you preferred.
If you have children, you are going to choose a restaurant based on the quality of the kids menu. You are going to need that booster chair. You will probably ask for a booth to keep the kids contained and, hopefully seated, during the entire meal. Adult conversation is a lofty goal; silence is impossible. Any conversation is interspersed with comments meant to encourage forks being lifted into little mouths, and muffled interjections when, inevitably, a glass of juice is spilled.
The clothes a parent wears will never be seen on a stage or runway. We parents wear very basic clothes that we don’t mind getting stained with grape jam. There are no gaping pleats or billowing folds that just beg to get snagged on a door knob. The wise parent buys clothes that stay snug to his or her body not because they have gained too much weight, but for two entirely different reasons: 1. To make one’s body more aerodynamic when leaping from one catastrophe to another. 2. Snug clothes won’t snag on something in mid-flight and dislocate an integral part of one’s anatomy.
I re-learned this lesson the other day when I slung my daughter’s pink and silver fashion scarf around my neck to keep from sucking it up with the vacuum cleaner. I had found it on the living room floor and I didn’t want to stop vacuuming and walk it all the way to her room.
Later that day, while I was cutting strips of paper for a mosaic project she was working on, the end of the scarf got caught in the rotary cutter and nearly strangled me. I had to explain to my husband why I was wearing a rotary cutter around my neck and convince him that, until two minutes ago, it was the latest fashion accessory. Now, it was so two-minutes-ago and I needed him to help me get it off.
My point is, because one has to adapt to so much change when one has children, it might seem like the worst idea in the world to become a parent, but most parents will tell you that, believe it or not… it’s so worth it!