April 23, 2014

To parents of small children

Parents of young children, I want to tell you something.

You cook dinner in stages, starting usually about 24 hours before you actually put the food on the table. That’s when you do cook dinner, which—let’s be honest—doesn’t always happen. What? Oatmeal is a whole grain. If you serve it with chocolate milk and bananas, it’s a balanced meal.

You can’t complete a thought. Who the hell am I kidding? You can’t start a thought.

Every day is a ticket punch from opening the blinds in the morning, through every meal, every diaper change, every enriching activity, right on until you close the blinds at night.

You feel old. Like, really old. That may be because you have a hunched back from carrying the baby in the Bjorn while pushing the toddler on the swing while simultaneously wondering exactly how high you should let a four-year-old climb on the jungle gym. Or it may be because you’ve gotten three complete nights of sleep in the last four years. Or it may be because you last brushed your hair before setting out for the hospital to birth your first child.

You exercise because you’re supposed to… sometimes. You go to work because you have to, but you can’t focus on a goddamned thing because you’re mentally completing all the evening tasks you’ll have to start in on the minute you walk in the door.  You last had sex… how old is the baby again?

But, here’s what I want to tell you: it gets better.

One day, that baby is going to be a five-year-old who turns on the light on Saturday morning and reads a book quietly to herself while you sleep in until seven-thirty. Scouts honor: this will happen.

One day, that four-year-old will walk his brother home from school, then scoot up to his room to do his homework without being told.

One day, even your middle hellion will spend two hours playing with the youngest in the basement and you’ll have no idea what they’re doing and you won’t care because you will suddenly find, this one day, that you have downtime. Honest-to-fucking-Audrey downtime.

And you will realize you no longer know what to do with such a thing.

My advice? Save all your New Yorkers. Or run up to the bedroom with your spouse and lock your bedroom door. Your choice.

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