I recently watched a video by the founders of babble.com about the 4 taboos of parenting. The things you "can't" say when you become a parent.
There was one in particular that definitely struck a chord with me and that was taboo number 4:
'You can't say your "average happiness" has declined since having children'
There is actually chart that has four studies on it which indicates this is indeed "true".
Now, I've never been one to beat around the bush about much. I have always been brutally honest when it comes to giving birth, raising children and how it affects marriage to all of my friends. It's true. Just ask them. I'm pretty sure I've convinced my best friend Erin that she should never have children although it has never been my intent. Not because she would be a terrible Mother, in fact I believe quite the opposite. But because when you have children it is truly a test of the relationship in every sense of the word. It tests your patience, with each other and the child. It tests your love for one another....some days you love them....some days you....well, don't. And it tests your emotional stability. Which is linked to how much or more likely, how little sleep you both got the night before. I say that with tongue in cheek but it's true. Of-course I could go on and on about the 'tests' you go through as parents but you get the point.
I thought to myself after watching the very fascinating clip that it might possibly be true that your average happiness declines after children arrive but at the same time I think that as parents when you actually get to DO things WITHOUT the babes you can appreciate the experience far more than you did before you had the little monsters. Which could evidently up the average....maybe? Well, I think so.
So, I compiled my own list (with explanations for all my lovely friends that are sans children and of-course to up the entertainment factor) of 4 things that make me ridiculously happy for which I completely took for granted before my boys arrived. Here they are:
1) Holding hands with my husband while walking down the street.
EXPLANATION: Going for a walk as a family is lovely (sometimes...well, as long as you have plenty of snacks for the kiddos, no one is overtired or hates being strapped in for what seems like an interminable amount of time...for them) but usually one parent is pushing the stroller while another is trying to avoid the other child (or children) from getting hit by a car. Therefore, it is so nice and brings back the lovely early dating memories when I simply get to hold my honey's hand while having a stroll in the park...
2) Being able to eat a full, hot meal
EXPLANATION: Eating a meal, any meal with children is like being at a zoo. Literally. You're running around trying to feed them as quickly as possible as they squeal like seals, scream like banshees, waiting impatiently for the next bite with their little mouths open like birds, there's bits of food flying every which way as they demand MORE milk, MORE ketchup....MORE, MORE, MORE! You're inhaling your food in between all the madness as they grab at your plate (because whatever is on your plate is surely better than what they have on theirs...even though it's the EXACT SAME THING) Whew, just thinking of the whole ordeal has got me stressed out.
That's why, when my husband and I get to have a nice, quiet meal, that's still hot, it is such a luxury. It doesn't even have to be at a restaurant. Not to brag, but I am a pretty fabulous cook.
3) Sleeping in past 6:00 am
EXPLANATION: "Sleeping in" you say!?? Sleeping past 6 am is considered "sleeping in"??!!! Well, for most parents. There are the lucky few that have kids that might sleep until 8 am (sooo jealous) but for most parents, between 6 and 7 am is the normal waking hour. Which makes for rough mornings on the week-ends if you decide to "indulge" in a glass of wine or 3. Yep, having a hangover with kids is NO fun. Imagine a room full of monkeys, jumping, screeching and demanding your utmost attention all at the same time while your head feels like it's full of cotton and rocks. See? NO fun. (not that I am comparing my children to monkeys - although it is a term of endearment I use on them quite frequently - emphasis placed on term of endearment) So when I peer at the clock on those rare mornings and see 7 am (rare, this is very, very, very rare) and my children are still sound asleep I luxuriate in my big, big comfy warm bed and hope that it lasts a little while longer...but I'm okay if it doesn't because...I've already slept in.
4) Simple Silence
EXPLANATION: Ahhh...the Sound of Silence....just like the famous song by Simon and Garfunkel...without the rest of the creepy lyrics. So simple yet so taken for granted. The usual sounds of the Soden household are noisy toys, babies crying, dogs barking, Spiderman/Superman/Iron Man "swooshing", and then me yelling....for Spiderman/Superman/Iron Man or whoever the heck he thinks he is at the moment, to stop making his little brother cry by taking away his noisy toy as Riley barks at the back door because she has to pee. Arrrrgh!!! Even when it is quiet, I hear the humming of the baby moniter, the breathing of my babes, and the occasionally the barking of my dog wanting to come in from the cold. But simple silence? Sigh. Such a rarity these days. So nice...mmmm...I'll even take the sound of the baby moniter's annoying buzz.
Well, looks like my time is up folks.
Gotta go tend to my little monkey!