We went to a BBQ tonight with friends of ours who have a baby girl Nolie's age (Scout) and friends who are expecting their first in August. Nolie and Scout were tired and did some tandem fussing (see above), but Addie was in really good spirits.
As the evening wore on, we started talking about how having kids changes your life. This is a stupid conversation to have, in my opinion, because the comments I make are always dependent upon how stressed I've been lately. And I've been pretty stressed.
Ashley, Scout's mom, said she didn't hardly remember life before Scout. I think I know what she meant: once your life gets consumed by having a kid, it's hard to remember what you did with the scads of free time you didn't know you had until it was gone. And having kids is great: it changes you in delightful, unexpected ways.
But my experience is also a little different. I can totally remember life before Addie was born. I remember long hours of lying on my bed listening to music. I remember going to movies. I remember eating out. I remember spontaneity.
I could go on and on (and did, unfortunately, while everyone else's eyes glazed over).
What I really meant to say was this: giving up all that stuff is hard, but only in retrospect. At the time we decided to have the kids, we were sick of the free time. Movies and lolling about and sex on Saturday afternoons was only interesting to a point. We wanted more, wanted the added dimension we felt kids could bring to our lives. It's only now that the free time is in such short supply that I miss it so sorely.
The great things is this: I am far and away a much happier, saner, kinder person now that I've had children. I feel immense joy and love when I am with my kids and my husband, and know I made an excellent decision in having them.
But are there moments where I remember being free, and long for that time? Sure. You don't get all that good stuff without sacrificing something else good. Want kids? Want to do a good job raising them? Well, your life is going to have to change in other areas, then. I understand that. I made the deal. Nonetheless, there is a me other than mommy, and I remember her, too.
Nights like tonight are my favorite. Hanging out with friends in someone's backyard, eating potato salad and cramming my face full of guacamole and beer, laughing and watching the kids play (or cry really hard, like in the picture above). Nights like this are easiest now spent with other people who have kids, or who are going to have them. They don't get mad when conversations are interrupted, or you have to change a poopy diaper in the middle of dinner, or when your kid is crying for no reason. They don't expect to be entertained--they know you're too busy entertaining kids. So it's possible, in these situations, to have some sense of yourself and also be a parent, to not be bifurcated, like we so often are in other situations. I'm so glad summer is almost here, and more bbq's are on their way.