Friday, May 4, 2007

unexpected sacrifices

Parenting is not easy. You have to give up so many things, especially when your children are young. Things that you don't even realize that you will have to give up.

For example, when you are thinking of having a baby, you know they don't sleep through the night, and you're pretty sure that you won't be taking many more tropical vacations, at least not for a few years. And that's okay. You can handle that. At least I was so sure I could (because I went on SO MANY tropical vacations before I had kids, yeah, that's it)

But what you don't realize you'll have to give up is almost worse. You have to give up conversations. And rational thought. Full sentences. One might attempt to have lunch with a friend and her toddler, and expect to have time to catch up. But, really, you can't catch up with a friend, or even have much of a conversation with her, without shirking your parental duties. Because demands for milk are made, or forks are flung or toddler runs off to hide under a nearby table. You can choose to ignore that behavior and continue the conversation with your friend, or choose to take care of the demanding creature. And, if you choose to ignore the behavior, you are then faced with having to ignore the dirty looks of the other diners. And the judgmental stares.

The telephone. That, too, is a thing of the past. As soon as you begin to speak on the phone, the small people who have been ignoring you and playing quietly for any amount of time, will suddenly and urgently need your attention. They begin to ask, then demand, then yell, then scream and throw a tantrum. Again, you can choose to ignore the behavior or deal with it. If the behavior is ignored, don't think for a minute that the person on the other end can't hear the yelling and hollering. Because they can. And, God help you if it's a person without children. You know that as soon as they get off the phone, they are going to tell the person in the room with them, "my children will NEVER act like that." (which, by the way, is the kiss of death. Don't ever say that about before you have children, because whatever it is you promise they won't do, God makes sure that they do. In the most embarassing of moments.)

Privacy. Especially in the bathroom. This, apparently, will continue long into your life as a parent, because my mother claims that as soon as she'd like a moment to herself, her children call her. So even though we may be miles and miles apart, her grown children are still not giving her any privacy. So, all those things that used to only happen behind closed doors don't anymore. And sometimes the doors are opened in public restrooms. Or announced to all the other people in the public restroom. Because mothers also get to give up all sense of modesty. And decorum.

But, you'll find that no one tells you these things until after you are pregnant. Or maybe if they do, you just can't hear. Because your womb is yelling at you too loudly.

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