I’m childless by choice, but that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes wish I had kids of my own. There are, of course, the obvious reasons why: to create a warm, loving family; to raise smart, responsible people who will contribute to the world; to experience the wonder and delight of every stage of a child’s growth from tiny baby to fully functioning adult; to have someone to love unconditionally who will (hopefully) love me back; and kids can be just pretty damn adorable.
But in addition to all the good reasons for having kids that are pretty well recognized, there are a few fringe benefits of parenting that I’d really like to take advantage of. The “perks of membership,” if you will, of which we non-parents will sadly never get to avail ourselves.
1. An Excuse to Get Off the Phone
“I understand exactly where you’re coming from and would love to discuss that further—oh my God, the baby is crying. I have to call you back.” Click. My friends with kids get off the phone with no warning all the time, and I totally get it and have come to expect it. I would like a valid reason to hang up mid-sentence. “I don’t feel like talking anymore,” or, “I was just about to browse inflatable travel pillows on Amazon,” aren’t really good excuses for ringing off.
2. Someone to Clear the Table, Do the Dishes and Other Chores
Sure, you have more dishes to clear and wash, more groceries to carry in, more mess to clean up when you have kids. But even those of us without kids are tired at the end of the day and really don’t feel like folding the laundry.
3. Early Boarding on Airplanes
I have tried mightily to get whatever frequent flyer status allows you to get on the plane before the normal passengers (sometimes via a special line that has a plush red carpet), but I have resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to be one of those undistinguished “Group C” flyers forever. However, those traveling with small children do get to board early, a perk that makes me deeply jealous. OK, so it’s a pain in the ass to get on the plane with a stroller and a squalling child, but you don’t have to worry you won’t get any overhead bin space.
4. A Reason to Eat Ice Cream Constantly
A friend of mine recently boasted that she has had ice cream nearly every day this summer because her daughter wants it and she’s not about to deny her the mint chocolate chip memories that comprise a childhood summer.
5. The Laurie Berkner Band Concerts
Am I supposed to go my entire life never hearing “I’m Gonna Catch You” live?
6. Someplace to Put My Stuff
I have seen strollers with so many hooks and bins and baskets that they look like they were designed by elfa. I would wheel my purse and gym bag and groceries home in my own little cart. I don’t see why I have to carry my stuff just because I don’t have a baby.
7. Never Having to Attend Any Event I Don’t Want To
On The Real Housewives of New York City, Bethenny never goes to awkward birthday dinners, and she gets to leave the Turks and Caicos trip early because she has to spend time with her daughter Bryn. The other ladies resent it a little, but they understand that parenting comes first. I would not have left the island getaway early, but I would like a societally acceptable reason for why I can’t come see your local theater production of Sweeney Todd that doesn’t require faking the flu.
8. Disney World, Water Slides and Jungle Gyms
I want to go on Space Mountain, I want to go on a log flume, I want to climb on that crazy playground structure with the soft pavement-like ground covering under it without looking like a loser (or getting thrown out). I suppose I’m probably way too big for the swings or the see-saw now, but I would really like to go on those too.
9. Another Shot at Getting Into an Ivy League School
I know parents aren’t supposed to live through their kids, but I can’t help but think if I could just apply to Yale with the knowledge I have now, I’d get in. Oh, I wouldn’t be the one applying, you say? I beg to differ. I would definitely be one of those parents who hovers over my kid while he fills out the application, putting in my two cents, editing and re-editing the admissions essay. You don’t get a second shot at attending one of the world’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning every day, you know.