Missing New Year's Eve: Things I Didn't Understand Before I was a Parent

It wasn't until my friends started having children that I was around babies. As a self proclaimed DINK (double income no kid) woman in her late twenties, babies and motherhood were entirely foreign to me. This doesn't mean I was uncaring. I feel I did a pretty good job at participating in my friends' new stage in life; listening to how they were doing, fawning over baby pictures, and filling them in on my how I too was tired, what with trying to fit a yoga class in before drinks with the girls and all.

I can't think of anyone I stopped being friends with once they had children, so I'd like to think I wasn't totally insufferable. As I do now, I suspect they appreciated I was in a different stage of life than they were : each of us is as busy, as tired, and as challenged in their jobs as the other, though be it in different ways.

But I wasn't as supportive as I could have been. There were just SO many things I didn't understand about being a parent until I was one.

What baby sized face cloths are for.
After the 4th package of these I received as a baby gift I actually asked my mom, "What the heck do I need these for?" and packed them away in the nursery. I still have no idea what I use these for, but I wash a pile of them every night, and am out of them by the end of every day. I now include a pack in all baby shower gifts.

Why are houses with toddlers always so messy?
Can't the parents spend fifteen minutes to clean up before I come over?
I do spend 15 minutes to clean up - ALL day. This job is simply never ending. I go from yogurt on the floor to a dumped box of balls, to a box of dumped crayons, to crayons on the wall, to peanut butter on the floor.....whatever I cleaned up 15 minutes ago just gets messy again.  I have resigned myself that until the children are old enough to keep toys in their room, my house is going to look...lived in.

Why are moms always tired, don't babies sleep, like, 18 hours a day?
I actually asked my sister in law this one. She was kind enough not to kick me out of her house. I did clarify that while I couldn't understand how moms of new borns were tired all the time, everyone I knew was exhausted, so I was sure to find out.

Taking the family out to eat at a non family restaurant is not fun.
I made the mistake of taking my toddler to Earls. I was (and am still not) upset that they didn't have high chairs, change stations, or a children's menu, but it was my first time meeting friends with my baby in tow, and it never occurred to me to check on these things. The staff were nice about it, but it was difficult to find finger food on the menu that he could eat and his strewn baby food was clearly out of place on their shiny floors. I am not against people taking their children out to 'adult' restaurants, it just wasn't for me. Now I check out the children's menu ahead of time (including finding out if they have one) and rotate amongst restaurants I know my toddler will eat at. On the flip side, I insist that date nights are spent at restaurants without children's menus.

Taking the family out to eat is not really that much fun at all.
I don't know how many times I offered to meet my friends and their children for dinner. I am hoping this will change as my children get older, but right now I have a toddler who eats in five minutes and a baby who takes an hour. The toddler does not sit patiently wait for the remaining 55 minutes. Family friendly or not, a night out for me equals take out, not eating out.

Can't you just get a babysitter?
I now know there are SO many things wrong with this question. You need to find a reliable babysitter who is free the night you want to go out. You have to pre plan meals and bedtime routines so the babysitter can manage in your absence. Then your kids, you, and your sitter, have to all be healthy on the night in question. No matter what time you get home, your children will be up the same time the next morning as always.  Though in my experience they will wake up in the night in proportion to how late you got home.

Why don't you just bring your kids, they can go to bed here.
They might. Or they might get super tired, refuse to sleep, and cry for hours. For each friends I have whose kids will fall asleep on a couch while watching a movie and stay asleep while being transported to a car seat and then into their room, I have 2 friends whose children will not sleep unless they are in their own bed. Like everything else to do with children, what works for one child won't necessarily work for another.

new yearsNot celebrating New Year's Eve.
I remember being aghast when my girl friend (mother to three children) told me that she and her husband didn't make it to midnight. "My husband fell asleep on the couch so I just went to bed by 11." After getting off the call I promptly told my husband we would never be so tired as to miss a night out on the town, especially one where I have an excuse to go shopping for a dress. 2013 was the first New Year's in 3 I wasn't pregnant. We talked about going out but opted for a date night at home instead. This quickly morphed into watching the NYC ball drop live before going to bed. Ummm.....the New York ball drops at 10 our time.

With two young ones, I am of the mindset that all will become magically easy once the children are sleeping through the night on a regular basis. A good friend of mine was kind enough to remind me that while getting sleep is a bonus of the children getting older, getting older brings new and different challenges with it. This time I was smart enough not to chuff and ask, "like what?"

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