The Grown-Up Thing To Do
It was a Saturday night after an exciting day of Pop Warner football and Chinese takeout. Neither child went to sleep easily or early, and after taking a few minutes to read, I fell asleep sometime after midnight. Shortly after drifting off, I was awakened by a child with a bad dream. Soon thereafter it was the cats engaged in a game of tag, followed by the dog joining in. Finally all was quiet . . . until I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Mom,” the child attached to the hand said kindly, “it’s a little late to be sleeping.”
It was morning. And as I swung my tired legs over the side of my comfortable bed, I thought about how much I miss sleep. But lest you get the wrong idea, this is by no means a complaint about children, not that I haven’t been known to have one or two of those in the past. Rather, this is a high-five to parents. We kind of rock. And our kids don’t even know it.
They don’t know because they can’t know—yet. Until they are adults themselves, they won’t understand what parents sacrifice for them. And we rock because most of the things we’ve given up, we’ve given up willingly, if maybe a little grudgingly. In a scene from one of my favorite movies, a father-to-be complains about having to trade in his sports car, and the mother-to-be says, “Well, what are we going to do with the baby, strap it to the hood, like a deer?” So yes, some of it’s been hard.
Gone are the Friday happy hours, the weekend jaunts, the wrapper-free vehicles, the carefree naps. Poof. And we rarely complain, because we don’t consider it a bad thing. It’s what we do for our kids. But the fact that we don’t complain about it doesn’t mean we aren’t aware of it. It’s actually kind of hard not to notice; as one friend said, “Hey, I don’t drive a minivan and live in the suburbs for me.”
We don’t spend 20 hours a week driving to games and practices and workouts and another 10 hours watching them for ourselves, either. And while there are some people who would go to Disney World even if they didn’t have kids, I’m not one of them. I wouldn’t go to Enchanted Forest or Darien Lake or on the rides at the State Fair. I wouldn’t—emphatically, by the way—go to a Wiggles concert, or for that matter a Hannah Montana or Jonas Brothers movie. These things I do for my children.
What else? Well, how about barking tree frogs when you really prefer animals you can pet? A pitcher’s mound in the back yard when your lawn is second only to your hair in terms of pride? A pink shag carpet for your girl’s bedroom when it clashes with the rest of the entire house? Being Team Mom for football when social situations give you hives?
Our kids don’t know all this, because they’re children. They don’t have to. And besides, we don’t do it for the acknowledgment or a pat on the back; we do it because we love our children in a way that most of us never even knew was possible. We know that whatever sacrifice we make is a small price to pay for that gift.
But does the fact that we willingly abandoned a lifestyle we loved for these little people mean we can’t miss it once in a while? Of course not. There’s nothing wrong with looking back fondly every now and again, even sharing some of our stories with our kids. To not miss it, to not share it, would be to deny it existed, and as at least one person in this room says, if I didn’t go through what I went through, I wouldn’t be where I’m at. And that includes the good stuff. Like sleep.
So it’s OK, kids. I’m up. Groggy at times . . . but up.
Maggie Lamond Simone is a book author, award-winning writer and mother of two living in Baldwinsville. Reach her at email@example.com.