After months of talking about it, I finally accompanied my gym rat younger sister to her workout.
While there, she gave me an encouraging pep talk about why I should come more often.
“You could totally do it!” she gushed to me, as my mind flashed to the war-like strategic planning it would take for me to find an hour and a half out of every day to make it to the gym with two full-time careers and four children.
So I just looked at her and thought, with only the teeniest bitter twinge of resentment, Oh, honey. You have no clue.
It’s kind of like how I feel when first-time couples announce that they are having a baby. Or maybe even when they announce their second baby, because that’s really when shit gets even more real. It’s like you want to warn them what’s coming, what life can really be like, but what’s the point because no one can understand until they’re there anyways?
I don’t want to sound too bitter, because I swear I’m really not. I fully grasp the concept that I am the one who chose to bear and birth my children into the world and I fully know that we all have our own strengths and weaknesses as parents. (Mine, apparently, just seems to be, um, everything is hard.) And I certainly don’t want to create the impression that life without children is just a life not worth living. There are a million and one things harder than being a parent in this world and, in many ways, parenthood enriches our lives beyond measure.
But when I see the childless of the world, those thin and energetic people like my sister, I want to shake some sense into them. I want to tell them to embrace it, to live it up and soak it all in while they can and, for crying out loud, just appreciate the experience of being able to wake up in the morning at your own pace. To be able to actually go to bed if you want at night and not hold your breath, hoping that tonight will be the night you will be able to sleep more than an hour in a row. (Keep dreaming.) To eat a meal in relative leisure and to not have to worry about SIDS or bouncing back or whether it’s time to nurse the baby again or if you’ve ruined your child’s health and future forever because you fed him McDonald’s.
I know that I was once a childless person and that I didn’t appreciate how much I could get done in that time in my life. In the bittersweet perfect hindsight that is time, I can’t help but wonder if every future parent could only get a taste of parenthood first, how much more motivated and appreciative we would all be of everything. Holding doors for everyone. Coffee for all. Maternity leave a must-have and not considered a vacation!
If only we could all experience the struggle of learning to live not just for ourselves, maybe, just maybe, what a wonderful world it would be.
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