This week I had the pleasure of spending time with one of my unmarried, childless friends. I’m not sure how it happens, but when you get married and have kids, you find that your circle of friends evolves to include mostly the kind of people who are wedded, with 2 ½ kids and a mortgage. Of course, a lot of it is just the course of life – generally people within a certain age group will start settling down, will think about procreating, will buy a house with a white picket fence and get a family sized vehicle. These are usually the people you grew up with and it’s a natural progression, right? You also meet other “like minded” people through your children’s’ school or their extra mural activities. At work, you are usually drawn to people who are in the same boat as yourself – wedded and kidded, and we slag off the single party animals (jealousy is a horrible thing). But in every circle, there are always a few friends who take the road less travelled and while everyone else walks around with their ball and chain (I promise no more negative references to marriage after this), they climb the corporate ladder or follow their dreams by becoming the National Female Hockey Captain (my friend who I met this week) or they simply choose not to tie themselves down FOR LIFE (last negative reference, I promise!).
It was so refreshing to spend time with someone who wasn’t interested in my kids, and I don’t mean that in a bad way because she loves my kids and I was slightly irritated that I had to share her with them, because there we were, all vying for her attention. But not once did we discuss baby poo, or sleeping patterns or teething medicines or what to cook for a fussy toddler. And don’t get me wrong, I love my girlfriends and I love that we CAN talk about all these things because to be brutally honest, our lives do sort of revolve around baby poo, vomit, teething toddlers and the like, but it was awesome to give these topics a break. Completely.
Anyway this got me thinking about my life and conversations and interactions with people before I had kids, and how my life has changed since becoming a mom. Here’s a list of just a few things which used to irritate the living daylights out of me, and how I have overcome these challenges:
- A crying baby on an aeroplane. Yes I was that passenger who would loudly ask to be moved away from the screeching brat. Nowadays, my kid is the screeching brat and I make no apologies for it either. Fly business class if you can’t handle the kiddies, because normal working class parents, like myself, have more important things to spend our money on, other than a business class ticket. Like gifts for the 205 kiddies birthday parties we need to attend in a year.
- Noise. Noisy neighbours, noisy colleagues in an open plan office, noisy families in a restaurant when you are trying to have a quiet meal – I detested unnecessary noise. I would call the police on neighbours who partied even 5 minutes after the law allowed them to. I would make a scene of putting my ear phones on when my colleagues were being rowdy in a shared space. And I would avoid Spur or Wimpy like the plague, because I knew they would be spilling over with noisy families and kids bolting up and down, knocking the side of my table. These days I am so immune to noise, I may as well be deaf. I could probably operate at optimum capacity through a hurricane. I can mute out whining, crying, my kids arguing, dogs barking and Barney on replay. I enjoy going to Spur because my kids can run around and I can mute them and every other child there… they get to have fun, I get to eat a hot meal. We both win.
- Bodily Functions. Pre-kids, I would never, ever, not in my wildest dreams, no-not-ever, discuss farting, vomit, poo, snot or saliva or nose picking, with my girlfriends. I’m sure our husbands covered these issues in a disgusting male sort of way, but we certainly did not cover these bases and especially not over lunch. Gross. But these days, bodily functions are quite the norm. It is not unusual to have a whole BBM chat dedicated to one of our baby’s poo, as we all try to self diagnose the problem.
- Tantrum Throwing Babies in Public. Before I had kids, watching a tantrum in public used to freak me out. I would speed past the helpless victim (the parent) and death-stare the culprit (the child), and shake my head in disdain. How DARE they allow their child to behave like that, writhing on the floor as if possessed. How DARE they! These days, I calmly step over the culprit (MY child) and allow them to let off steam while I continue to fill my trolley. Usually by the time I’m at the end of the aisle, they’ve composed themselves and I politely nod my head at the death-starers.
Oh yes, besides changing diapers, changing your lifestyle and changing your clothes 5 times a day… having kids changes your very personality, it changes your belief system and changes who you are. Hopefully for the better. Not always. Because let’s face it, talking about poo over a deliciously prepared lamb shank at a 5 star restaurant, will never be better. Ever.