Don’t you like this picture? Not a bad way to start the day. What you don’t see is my 10 month old eating the rocks out of the landscaping.
I write this post from poolside at a resort in Palm Springs. Jealous? I’m not going to lie, it’s nice, but I’m not exactly on vacation. I’m tagging along with my husband, who is at a convention, and my 6 and 8 year old are at home with my mom, so it’s pretty close.
But I have my 10 month old with me. Who is currently emptying my wallet onto the pool deck, which I am actually grateful for because it is distracting her from making a mad dash for the water for a few minutes.
I attended a customer appreciation banquet last night with my husband, Violet nestled snugly against my hip in my ring sling, loving all the attention. With many of the people I spoke to, the conversation turned to children and what it is like to be a mother/father/grandparent. I ran into a college classmate of my husband’s who now also has three kids. As we knew each other in college, we started comparing our idea of fun then with our idea of fun now.
Obviously the change was considerable.
And I started to think- after I had my first, it was really hard for me to accept the fact that I couldn’t just go out with friends on a whim. I couldn’t stay up late at a party without planning ahead. And since my first two were born in California, far from family, I had no child care, no mom to come over and watch the kids while I went out with my husband or saw a movie. It can be a hard shift for most new parents and I was no exception.
I learned to adapt, though. Our children became extremely well traveled, are (normally) very well behaved even in a nice restaurant, can sit through a movie in a theater without causing a disruption, and by the time the older two were 4 and 6 could even sit through a meeting with me without causing too much of an distraction.
But the shift wasn’t only in their behavior. My attitude has changed- my idea of fun, even as a married adult with a child, was different then. Instead of feeling left out and resentful, I feel at peace with the fact that, for this short season, I can’t sit by the pool and peacefully read and drink cocktails. I can’t stay out late with friends without finding a sitter ahead of time. Sometimes I have to leave family gatherings early because someone needs to go to bed (although lately that someone is often me).
Now when I take my older kids to the pool I barely have to watch them. And even though I do have to stay with Violet, I know that it is only for a short time. Before I know it she won’t need to me to keep her from falling in the pool or eating the rocks in the landscaping. And instead of being resentful of the fact that I can’t have “fun” because I have to tend to my child, I am seeing the child in front of me- the precious, delightful child who takes such pure joy in splashing in the pool or sitting in the sunshine emptying the contents of my wallet onto the ground, and who is sleeping peacefully on my chest as I finish this post. In a few years I will be able to have “fun” again. But for now I am at peace with its absence.