1. Having already sowed the wild oats.
I just finished watching Magic Mike XXL. Apart from being a very funny show (Seriously! It was funny!), I was reminded how much I did before having a kid. I traveled to several countries, with friends, partners and solo, I climbed many a mountain, I saw many a male entertainment show and I had a fulfilling career for a decade and a half. If all I did from now until she graduates university is stay home and raise a family, I could honestly say I haven’t missed out. The truth is, now I can look forward to doing it with my family. Maybe not the stripper part. At least not for a long time.
2. Feeling financially secure.
We moved to Victoria before we had our daughter. I came here unemployed after more than 15 years at the same job. I have been able to stay home with her for the last 2+ years, maybe more, because of my husband’s very secure job, and savings I had from the many years at my previous job. I do work the odd weekend now, and because of my previous training and experience, the pay is much better than if I could only work weekends at a minimum wage job, which means far less pressure to have to find a full-time job. Not to mention we started saving for her from day one.
3. Being able to see the big picture.
Not much before 40, I seriously had no eye on the future, other than what trip I planned to take next. I was all bent out of shape if I had to sacrifice for anything, not only in work, but in my marriage as well (see number 7). Now, I realize that even though I may miss my career, I get to choose a new one now, and that being at home with my daughter for her early years is such a privilege, even if singing the alphabet song for the hundredth time makes me want to poke my eye out with a rusty spoon.
4. Built up some Patience.
In my 20s, and 30s for that matter, I had zero patience. I even had it tattooed on my wrist to try to remind me how important it was. It rarely worked. That’s not to say I don’t lose it once in a while. For sure the words “are you fucking kidding me?!?!” rattle off the end of my tongue just as well as they did 15 years ago; but, not as often. So when she throws the spaghetti at the wall for the 5th time that dinner, I may not clean up what my dog doesn’t get, at least not for a few days, maybe a week. (See number 5)
5. Not worrying about the little stuff.
I used to love a clean house. I really fucking hate cleaning, but really love a clean house. Before any trip away, my house would be spotless. There was nothing better to coming home to a clean house. Before anyone came over, I would clean the whole house, top to bottom. This no longer matters. I am now happy if I can manage to have the dishes washed at the end of the day, or maybe one bathroom cleaned every other week. And if someone comes over, well, they can overlook it with a glass of wine in hand, pick up a dishcloth or not come back. I’m too tired to entertain anyway.
6. We eat better and drink less.
I put spinach in everything now. I mean everything. Eggs, check. Soup, check. Smoothies, check. Ten years ago my husband would have never ate anything with spinach in it. Now, he eats it more often than I do because we want her to make better choices than we did. Drinking less has nothing to do about better choices. It is about not waking up with a hang over and having to entertain a toddler until nap-time. You all know what I mean. It sucks.
7. We stay active.
Staying in a house with a toddler is what I imagine being with a caged animal is like. When she is up at 6, by 730 she is already climbing up the walls and wailing like baboon. I can’t take the utter chaos, so we head out. We walk, we run, we go swimming, or we go to the park or the lake, even if it’s raining. We often take the bike and bike trailer out to go grocery shopping, mostly because putting her in a car seat is a nightmare without pepperoni or chocolate. (We may eat better overall but we still have our vices….)
8. My spouse and I are truly partners.
My mother can’t stop telling me how lucky I am to have so much “help.” This annoys me to no end because I do not see parenting as help. I see it as contributing to a family that we both chose to build together. The truth is, I know that I have it good, really really good, but part of that is because we were together so long as single, childless, selfish, narrow minded people. We saw each other through very challenging times and the growing pains of constantly questioning our relationship for what now seems like such minor, meaningless things. We really discussed what having kids would look like and how being realistic, committed team members was the only way to do it successfully. And we are a team, more than we have ever been before.