Parenthood, a Movie, and Single Friends
I’m finally back from my hiatus after the first insane month of the school year. Where does time go?
I recently saw the movie What to Expect When You’re Expecting. No, it’s not a blockbuster by any means, and it’s not the cerebral type of thing I’ve been talking about lately, but it struck me as interesting. I picked it up from Redbox after seeing previews a few months back and thinking it might be funny. And guess what. It was. It was not as funny as my husband had hoped it would be, but I was pleased. See, a lot of it rings true. It’s the story of pregnancy, parenthood, and adapting to a life no one is ever fully prepared for. Whether it be the pregnant woman, swollen, miserable, and hating all those beautiful, glowing pregnant ladies out there, or the panicking father-to-be, totally unprepared for what’s to come, or the seasoned vet, juggling three kids in one hand, there’s a little bit of everything. My favorite scenes were those with the dads who already had kids. They provided much of the humor in the film with witty and over-the top anecdotes about their children falling down a flight of stairs, drinking a beer that was left out, or being allowed to do things with daddy that mommy would never allow. While over the top, the general idea rings true–parents know that a lot happens, kids are tough, and you just have to do the best you can.
It got me thinking about the differences between myself and my unmarried and/or childless friends. See, I love all my friends. Don’t get me wrong. But what do I have in common with a bunch of people who go out drinking once a week, break up and get back together with boyfriend after boyfriend, and move into tiny little lofts in the coolest part of the city? The answer…not much. Parenthood has brought me a sense of responsibility. Do I sometimes wish I could go out and get lost in the night? Of course. But I also have grown to love my responsibility. My child is my life. And I can’t imagine not being there for him. I want another child. I want to put my children to bed every night and hug them and kiss them and be there when they learn new things. I love my family. and don’t want to miss a moment of them. I’m not saying none of my friends are responsible, but it’s just different. For a lot of them, life is all about them. It’s about them exploring, discovering, or whatever. But for me, it’s about what’s best for my son and family. It’s about taking care of those I love. And yeah, maybe I want to go out once in a while, but ten times out of ten, I will choose my family if I’m really forced to choose. Because they’re my life.
I realize there are different paths to happiness. Different ways to be successful in life. And that’s okay. I just wish I knew more people like me. Because it’s really hard to relate to someone who has no concept of what it is to be in charge of the life of another human being. The funny thing is, in 5-10 years when my friends are finally settled down having kids, I’ll finally be able to take some time away from my family again. And I will support them as they adjust to a total shift in the center of their universe. Because that’s exactly what parenthood is. It’s not about me anymore, and it took me a while to adjust to that, but now I’m there. Someday I hope some of my friends settle down and have children. But until then, I wish they could understand my duties. So if you’re reading this, I’m not avoiding you. I’m not staying away because I want to or because I don’t like you. I’m not there because I have a child to raise. And I don’t want my kid turning out like all those kids I see in the school I teach at. Because let me tell you, parents are not, as a whole, doing a very good job these days and I want to do the best I can. If you want to spend time with me, then want to spend time with my child, too, instead of looking at him like he’s the plague. He’s a human being…a very small human being, but one nonetheless. Let us go to a park, or a zoo, or somewhere interactive because sitting around in your apartment on the tenth story with all those breakables and booze and a toddler running around is a spell for disaster. Avoid asking me to go out late at night. I’m okay with evening meals once in a while without my kid, but on the weekend, interactions my family are sacred, as is my time to sleep. And please, please offer to help out if it looks like I’m struggling. You watching while I’m juggling poopy diapers and sippy cups and bouncing toddler butts is unkind.
Edited because this guy says it better than I ever could. And no, I don’t expect you to always come to me, but I do expect you to play with my kid instead of looking at him like he’s an alien: http://jasongood.net/365/2011/06/day-166-to-all-my-friends-without-children/#.UGirwFE2TQg