Being a parent makes you appreciate the little things in life:
A hot cup of coffee, a moment of reflection, hearing tiny voices say, “I love you.”
These are all things we cherish because, well, our lives are pretty fucking chaotic otherwise.
It’s possible that when my kids are grown, I won’t have the same appreciation for these moments. But until that day comes, here are seven everyday things I never take for granted.
1. The sound of silence. Once you have kids, your world gets a whole lot noisier. The sounds of kids are constant: laughing, yelling, playing, screaming, and running around like lunatics. Not to mention the TVs, phones, tablets, etc. and the ridiculously noisy toys (a.k.a. proof that your sister-in-law doesn’t like you very much). In contrast, when the kids are sleeping and the world is quiet, it feels like a small miracle. We can finally get stuff done because we can actually hear ourselves think.
2. Riding in a car without kids. It’s not surprising that it’s easier to ride in a car without having to strap in kids, referee arguments, pass juice back and forth, and all the other things that come with driving small children around. But don’t underestimate how liberating it can feel to go for a spin without kids. You can turn on whatever music you want to listen to, as loud as you want to. You can drive fast without being paranoid about every worst-case scenario on the road. You can even consider having a cigarette even though you don’t smoke (because freedom).
3. A good night’s sleep. We chose to have two kids in three years. We kind of brought this whole sleep deprivation thing on ourselves. I’m so tired that I can’t remember most things, including the majority of my kids’ milestones (which didn’t happen all that long ago). The milestone I do remember? The first time I got six consecutive hours of sleep. It’s a glorious feeling to not be woken up every other hour. Now that my kids are a little older, I am still grateful for any night that I’m not woken up to change a diaper, get water, get milk, console, cuddle – any of the millions of reasons kids wake their parents between 2 and 4 a.m.
4. Going to the store alone. No need to carry the diaper bag or get that goddamned Winnebago of a double-seater cart. You can stroll down the aisles at your own leisure without worrying about your kids screaming or reaching for things. You can stock up on your secret candy stash. You know the people who take ten minutes picking out a pasta sauce? Or the ones that creep along with their shopping cart and appear to be in no hurry whatsoever? Yep, those people have kids at home.
5. Uninterrupted bathroom time. Whether it’s a long shower or just using the restroom without an audience, it’s a luxury.
6. Eating without constant interruption. There’s a reason that parents have date nights where they go out to eat: to eat their food while it’s still hot. Meals at home with the kids are filled with arguing about what they have to eat, helping them eat, cleaning up random stuff that gets thrown/spilled, bribing them to finish their “green stuff,” answering every random question that they come up with, etc. Going out to eat with kids is even worse because it’s just as bad, but with witnesses.
7. A clean room. Pick a room, any room. When it’s clean, it’s time for celebration. We savor the moment. And I do mean “moment” literally. Probably closer to 14 seconds, give or take. After that, a child will come tearing through it and throw things everywhere for no apparent reason. It’s the same with the dishes or the laundry; they’re never really “done” for more than a minute at a time.
“Adulting” is hard. Parenting is even harder. These things might not seem like huge accomplishments, but they are small victories that no parent takes for granted … in part because we know we’d go crazy without them.