Look, I'll do almost anything for my kids. Since becoming a parent, my list of personal sacrifices/compromises includes but is not even close to being limited to the following:
- Let my uterus and skin stretch so much that both times I felt sure there had to be some seam somewhere that was about to bust.
- Went through the most intense physical pain to birth both babies that the only way I can think to describe the feeling is to say that it's what I imagine sitting in an electric chair must feel like.
- Gave up sleeping until noon for the rest of my life and traded it for a life of being grateful for 5 hours of sleep in a row.
- Went from wearing cute, little, tight fitting logo t-shirts to searching for any shirt that will fit on my body that doesn't make me look like either a stuffed sausage or a pregnant lady in a maternity shirt.
- Went from staying up late to have one more beer with a group of friends to trying my hardest to keep my eyes open for at least 2 TV shows after the kids' bedtime (7:30 or 8:00).
- Gave up the ability to go out for a romantic dinner with my husband on a whim. Now it takes weeks of planning and saving
- Spending my birthday money on things for the kids.
- I now get my haircut every year or so...forget about cute highlights.
- Finding time to exercise is no longer about prioritizing, it's about figuring out how early a human can possibly get up to run and still be able to function during the day.
- I no longer have any idea if I even like popular music. These days I sing killer harmonies along with such hits as "Little Peter Rabbit" and "If You're Happy and You Know It".
- I have been able to stay awake before bed long enough to read approximately 2 pages of whatever book I'm attempting to read for myself, but I have read the original Curious George stories approximately 1,000 times since we bought it a few months ago.
- I will sit and play "Circle Time" for as long as possible because it means I can just sit there quietly and listen to Zoe read instead of actively using my imagination.
- I will run into the kids' room in the middle of the night and help Nathan clean up puke from Zoe's face, hair, pjs, sheets and wall.
Anyway, you get the idea. I will do all of the above, no questions asked but I discovered my limit the other day while playing outside with Zoe (Nathan was home with a napping Owen). I will not--I repeat--will NOT get down on my hands and knees in my neighbors backyard and pretend to scrub rocks. Let me explain:
I took Zoe out to the playground the other day and discovered that not one of her friends was out at the time. After I explained that they would probably be out later and that it was great because now just she and I could play together, she proceeded to try and get me to play "Annie" with her (the game she's been playing every day at the playground with her friends lately). Reluctantly, I went along but slowly rediscovered why it's such a huge load off when your kids are old enough to go off and play with other kids....it's because the games they love spending hours playing are WEIRD AND BORING. Don't get me wrong, they are important to their development and imaginations and I do get blown away and charmed when graced with a little taste of whatever game it is, but to be a participant, as an adult, is a practice in patience even an enlightened Buddhist would have a hard time mastering.
This is how the game went:
Zoe: Mommy, you follow me wherever I go and when I tell you to do something you say "Yes, Miss Hannigan" Okay?
She started aimlessly walking around and turned around every 3 steps to be sure I was DIRECTLY behind her
Zoe: SCRUB THE BATHROOM!
Me: Yes, Miss--
Zoe: No, no you have to say it like this (whining) "Yes, Miss Hannigan!"
Me: Okay, okay try again
Zoe: SCRUB THE BATHROOM!
Me: (dutifully whining) Yes, Miss Hannigan!
I was relieved to see that standing as still as possible seemed to fit the parameters of the game at this point, then....more aimless walking
Zoe: (pointing at a couple of big rocks in a neighbors backyard) SCRUB THE BATHROOM!
Me: Yes, Miss Hannigan!
Zoe: (whispering) Mommy (pointing at rocks) scrub the bathroom
Me: (still whining, but as me now) Zoe....come on....seriously?....okay, look I don't want to play this game anymore.
Zoe: (crying) Mommy!!! No!!!
Me: Zoe, I'm sorry but this is a game for you and your friends, not a game for Mommy. I'll push you on the swing or help you on the monkey bars but this....is NOT for me. Sorry.
You can imagine how well that went over, but I was not about to budge.
Now, I'm sure if you gave me time and a pow-wow with Nathan and my Mom, sisters and awesome Mom friends, I could come up with enough reasons to more than double the list above. I'm just as sure that it would take me half of THAT time to come up with a million things I've gained and valuable lessons I've learned since welcoming my two little rug-rats into my world. I love these buggers more than anything and feel so lucky to be able to find the value in my life so easily now but man....it's a hard job and any parent could tell you that to think back on your life before kids is a serious mind-blow.