As a two-time parent, I know the joys that parenthood brings. When I chose to have mine while I was still in my twenties it had more to do with an eagerness to begin that aspect of my adult life than telepathic foresight. Good thing too because the older I get, the more important getting enough sleep has become for me.
A classmate I’ve known since kindergarten just became a first time dad last week. Last month, my high school graduating class celebrated our 30th reunion. You do the math. I love babies, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I could care for an infant 24/7 anymore. I’m too old for that.
I understand that events in life don’t always follow a conventional path. There were some I graduated with who became parents before they even received their high school diploma. Some went straight to work, others went off to college. Some married in their twenties and some didn’t get married or have kids until well into their 40s, if at all. Every one has a different story. Some chose their circumstances while others didn’t. There’s no right or long way to do it. You have to take life as it’s thrown at you and not get hooked up with would haves and should haves.
Even though my children are grown, I still at times suffer from broken sleep. During college breaks we battle with conflicting sleep cycles, my husband and I are trying to actually sleep at midnight, while the young crowd goes in and out of the front door all night long. We get woken up to the sound of the microwave bell going off announcing the popcorn is ready at 2 am and the aroma of pizza coming from the oven. On the up side, they do their own laundry, feed themselves and call the doctor if they’re not feeling well and drive themselves to the appointment. I no longer have to be involved in any of that and I’m really okay with it.
I have a friend that sees a child and asks “Don’t you miss that age?”. To which I reply HELL NO! Don’t get me wrong. They’re cute and innocent at that age. Yes some things were easier then. I picked their clothes, the friends they hung around with and what time they went to bed but that meant, I had to shop for their clothes, arrange play dates and perform the dreaded bedtime routine every evening. That was on top of working, cooking and cleaning. I don’t miss that. Nor do I miss the tantrums, taking them to the doctor every other week for ear infections, croup, stomach viruses and shots. I don’t miss parent/teacher conferences, back to school supply lists and packing lunches.
I was a good parent. I did everything I was supposed to do at the time without resentment but I was also very happy when that phase of my life was over. We can now sit around, have a drink together and talk about current events. We can laugh at inappropriate television shows because everyone gets the joke and sometimes they will even cook dinner.
Next week, with my oldest traveling out-of-town for business and my youngest starting her third season playing college soccer, I can take it easy, sit back and have taco chips and beer for dinner if I choose to because I don’t have to worry about setting a good example for anyone. Best part, I can then go to bed early and sleep like a baby.