One of the most inconvenient things I ever did was have kids.
This is not a cynical essay about how terrible parenting is. It’s a life I wouldn’t trade for anything (the good and the bad included), but lately I’ve just been thinking about how inconvenient it is most of the time.
Sometimes Jake and I will sit on our front porch after the girls are in bed and remember the simpler times. Times before fully stocked diaper bags and nap schedules. Before discipline and middle of the night accidents became things you had to worry about. Times when you didn’t have to reheat your coffee four times before you finished.
I still remember someone asking me the age-old question right after Lily was born: “Haven’t you already forgotten what life was like without her?”
Oh, you mean, two weeks ago when I was reading a sappy Young Adult novel on my balcony waiting for Jake to get home, so we could go out for dinner and then maybe see a movie?
You may willingly surrender them, but I’m not convinced anyone really forgets those times. How could you? Everything was easier.Embracing inconvenience comes with the parenting contract. Your child will throw a tantrum at the exact moment you need to leave to make it to library story time on time. Your child will have to go to the bathroom immediately upon entering the public pool. Your child will wake up from her nap early the one day you actually have plans to be productive.
Oh, just me? Yeah, whatever.
But here’s the thing: For all the times inconvenience gets in the way of my very specific, pre-made plans, lately I have been finding that there are many more times that inconvenience is appreciated and even wanted. (This coming from someone who dreams about ways to make things more efficient.)
I have approximately nine hours to fill (not including nap times) each day I spend with my girls. Some days I get really creative and plan extensive, fine-motor activities for them to engage in. And then, after all that work, I’m usually still left with about 8 ½ hours to fill. Toddlers, in case you didn’t know, have particularly short attention spans.
And, so, there are days (especially during the winter when we haven’t been outside for weeks) that I will pack the girls up in the car and drive to Starbucks. And, let me tell you, I am beside myself with joy to see a drive-thru line full of cars. Thirty minute wait? No problem. We’ve got hours to kill.
Putting on sunscreen before we go outside. Emptying the dishwasher while my one-year-old hands me each piece of silverware individually. Trying to pick up and vacuum a single room while both girls are awake.
It’s all so inconvenient, and yet, I’m finding that there’s something to be said for embracing things that help spend our time. Sure, we’re doing things more slowly, but we’re still doing things. It’s time, and I’ll take it.Maybe I just like to find silver linings. In any case, I’ll take my long drive thru lines and my three-year-old’s insistence to sweep the floor after lunch (even though I know I’ll end up doing it again anyway). Sometimes when I choose to embrace a tiny inconvenience, my day moves in a better direction than I could have planned anyway.
Of course, until someone, who will not be named, decides to spill coffee all over the floor right before church.
It’s fine. He cleaned it up pretty quick.