After over 20 contributions made to this parenting column, we’ve finally gotten our acts together and given it a name. This week we’re tackling the complicated topic of a social life after procreation. Have a look…
Editor’s note: Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place. After over 20 contributions made to this parenting column, we’ve finally gotten our acts together and given it a name. The format is the same: two sets of parents (the Salgados and the Catrows) discussing/agreeing/disagreeing/throwing down over all kinds of parenting issues, Richmond-related and beyond.
Today’s question: Is life over once you have kids?
So like the rest of Richmond, I read the ever-popular and former RVANews columnist Jack from Jack Goes Forth. If you’re not familiar with him, he blogs about his womanizing, bar tending, rather die than settle down, slightly self-deprecating, shocking, and exciting 26-year-old life. At times I laugh, occasionally shout at the computer screen, and have even (although am now extremely repentant) left a scathing anonymous comment. I wondered why I was so cranked up by this guy and yet kind of liked him at the same time? Truth be told, he inadvertently pushed me to ask myself a loaded question: Is your life is over when you get married and have kids? Are we really all schmucks who move to the burbs, pop out a couple rugrats, join book clubs, and golf every Saturday morning?
I think the answer is yes and no. By the age of 26, I was married with two kids. Partly because I was practically a child bride by getting married at 21 and partly because my husband is so hot, which explains the gagillion kids we have. We figured we would have years to travel and party before kids, but things didn’t really go as planned. I guess in some ways we missed out on the total free and fun days of our early 20s, but somehow we found an alternative. Thus began the years of the “porch parties” at our little green house. Children were tucked into their beds while beer cans collected on the rails of the deck. It was beer pong and other shenanigans late into the night with friends crashed on the couch by morning. We took turns being the designated sober responsible parent and surprisingly these people, many just kids themselves, loved our kids.
The late 20s brought another baby and a move to the city. Since we were in walking distance of every favorite bar and restaurant, a reliable babysitter became our new best friend. 80s night at Bandito’s had us dancing till closing, followed by carrying home pizza from Chanello’s many a Friday night. Buddy’s was the old standby for Jorge with his buddies while I tried all the Fan favorites with various girlfriends the rest of the time. It was fun but expensive; we were party poor for awhile after that.
I was sure life would be over at 30, but it turned out to be the most fun yet. The early 30s have greeted us kindly with a whole new set of friends on top of the old crew. We also added one more baby to the mix leaving us with four kids. While the addition of each kid makes it more challenging to navigate the social part of us individually and as a couple, we have always managed to find a way to hold on to that part of ourselves. So while we will never know total reckless abandon, we aren’t exactly dead to a good night either. I like to think it might be the best of both worlds, but I may have to trade stories with the bartender sometime to find out.
Nothing irks us more than the “Haha, you’ll see” comments people must endure when they’re getting ready to have a baby – particularly when it comes to the issue of a post-partum social life.
To us, it’s pretty simple: having a kid changes your life. If it doesn’t, you’re probably doing it wrong.
However, “change” does not equal “end.”
We still hang out, we still go out, and we still know how to have a good time. In fact, I socialize more now than I ever did before we had a baby, mostly because I cherish my free time and don’t want to piss it away checking Facebook. If something requires more effort, you tend to make it more of a priority.
Alas, I won’t lie. I desperately miss the days of staying out (or even staying up) late and sleeping until noon. I miss being able to run an errand without a 25-pound person in tow. And napping, I miss you most of all.
I mean, let’s face it, kids are a time suck. But while you might have less time to do the things you used to do, it doesn’t mean you can’t do them at all.
When Ross and I talked about this issue, he brought up what he likes to call the “RomCom Syndrome.” RomCom refers romantic comedies and the less-than-accurate picture they give of life (and, for some reason, a lot of us believe). You know what I’m talking about: the harried mother and father stumbling around unwashed and disheveled, exhausted out of their minds (ok, maybe that’s accurate), bemoaning the loss of their friends, free time, and youth as the baby screams in the background.
Guys, it doesn’t have to be that way!
Life with a kid (or kids) requires a little more juggling and a lot more finesse. For us, it’s all about sacrifice and compromise: sometimes we alternate nights out, other times we cut spending in one area so we can pay for a babysitter. There’s a give and take that you just kind of have to embrace and run with.
One of Ross’s biggest fears about impending parenthood was whether or not he was going to be able to hang out with his friends as much. I tried to ease his fears by pointing out that I understood (and would respect) his extroverted nature and need for social interaction (while also highlighting my need to be left the hell alone sometimes). But I knew that once the baby got here, there would be times when he would choose to be home, not out of obligation but out of desire to be with his family. And, of course, that happened. In fact, it happens more often than not.
When kids come into this world, they bring with them a whole set of responsibilities that parents must bear. And we do so, maybe not always gladly, but always willingly. Priorities shift, focuses change, and things are just different. They have to be.
If I’m being completely honest, I’d have to say that life as you know it is probably over once you have kids. However, the change brings with it so much joy (and wonderful, purposeful challenges) that saying goodbye to that old life isn’t so bad.
Ok, now it’s your turn
Do you feel like life is over once you have kids? We’d especially like to hear from you amazing single parents out there…