“Do you have kids?” our neighbor asked us four years ago, as he cast his line off the neighborhood pier.
“No,” my husband said.
“They’re…fun,” he said as he caught his four-year-old daughter mid-run and swung her around.
Fun? Really? I had no idea kids were fun. I knew they meant work, responsibility and loss of freedom, but I never heard that they were fun. In my life up until that moment I thought kids were just an enormous burden that people endure because they love them, not a new form of entertainment.
But now that I’m a mom I realize he was right. They do entertain. They cry, spit up, scratch, kick and throw tantrums in the aisle at Safeway, but they also make us laugh, love and rejoice in the simplest things.
My 2-year-old daughter, Rose, is funnier than I am and she doesn’t even try. She’s quite the chatterbox but sometimes her pronunciation is a little bit off. For example, “big truck” sounds like “big (another name for a rooster).” You should see us when we’re out at the supermarket and they get a delivery. “Yes, Honey, that IS a big truck. It is most certainly a truck. No question about it, it’s a truck.” “Clock” sounds just like truck.
“Fork” comes out as another word for making love and “Spongebob” comes out “butt ‘fork.’” You would think these terms would only come up at home but she uses them in public all the time, whenever we see a Spongebob doll or go to a restaurant. “I want a fork!” plays really well with the diners at the next table. “Here’s your FORK, sweetie.” They’re still reeling from when she said “I want to ‘sit,’” which sounds like another word for poop. Fortunately for me, I buff with the social Turtle Wax that lets embarrassing behavior roll off my back.
When I was pregnant, I discussed kids with a coworker who had three and one on the way. He told me that once we had kids, we’d never sleep again but we would think the loss was totally worth it.
We gave up a lot once we had Rose – more than we expected. We moved from Maryland to Seattle when I was seven months pregnant and when she came along, we really understood why people live close to their families. My husband’s mother came out for a week to help us, and she even babysat one night so we could go out but after she left, there was no one to ask for help. We didn’t go out for about five months, when we exchanged babysitting with a mom I had befriended.
We used to go to Key West every year for the Parrot Head convention. We went three years in a row, and I’d gone two years by myself before I met my husband. We haven’t gone since 2006. We planned to, even registered, in 2007, but we couldn’t because I was too pregnant to fly. And then we kept saying we’d bring Rose to Key West but we haven’t yet.
The only restaurants we frequent now offer balloons and crayons at the door. The weird liquor laws in Washington prohibit us from bringing Rose almost anywhere adults gather. I can see it now that she runs around and wreaks havoc, but what about when she was a baby, strapped to my chest all the time? Did they worry the bartenders might mistakenly serve her?
And though Rose was always a good sleeper, she’s still a kid and every day at 7:30, weekend or not, she’s crying, “Mommy, where ARE you?” My husband and I each take her one morning on the weekends, but this week we were all sick, and even though we didn’t have to work, neither of us could not get an extra minute of the sleep we desperately needed.
But my neighbor was right. Kids are fun. It’s just not the same fun.
While not as exciting as the gossip and occasional boobies we were used to at parties, there’s always drama: tantrums, spontaneous shrieking and even nudity, just on a much smaller scale.
Though we don’t see people as much, we have a constant companion who facilitates spontaneous conversations with strangers wherever we go.
We don’t vacation to sexy destinations anymore but we do fun things together more frequently. We go to petting zoos, u-pick farms, playgrounds, farmer’s markets, pools and local parks. We love watching her explore, and let’s face it, we need to keep her happy because if she’s not, she can make us miserable.
And we rejoice too, more than we ever have. Rose let go of the bed and took her first steps the day before my 40th birthday and it was the best gift I ever got. When she eats or drinks something now she declares it “Delicious!” It’s really much funnier when you’re her mom but that’s the thing—it makes us laugh and we’re proud at the same time. The other day she spontaneously sang all of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” at the dinner table and it blew us away.
No dates, no vacations, no happy hours and no sleep. Drama, company, family fun and pride. My neighbor, my coworker, and everyone who said we’d never be the same – they were all right. Nothing will ever be the same and we wouldn’t want anything to be different.