what I miss most about not being a parent

When I first became a mom, I was so crazy overwhelmed and not just by physical exhaustion but the emotional exhaustion of it all.  I felt guilty about EVERYTHING (sleeping too much, sleeping too little, eating a package of ramen, not eating enough, showers, non-existent showers…) and so I would not allow myself to even indulge in the fleeting feeling of what I missed about not being a parent. But here I am in round 2 and I’m just being honest.  There are things I miss about not being a parent. And there’s one thing I miss the most…

Surprisingly, it’s not the option to sleep in.  I definitely miss that waking up at 10am on a Saturday morning was considered “early” and the only reason I did so was to make it to target before it was swamped by toddler moms.  Not to mention that I didn’t need a single thing at target but I would go simply to stare at all the drugstore brand makeups and glare at toddlers that refused to sit correctly in their shopping carts.  The signs on the carts CLEARLY indicate what is appropriate toddler seating!  Fast forward five years later and that’s me.  I’m that toddler mom.  I’m the toddler mom expecting the young, fresh faced 20-somethings leisurely standing in the aisles browsing blushes to move out of my way because my toddler is trying to full on stand inside the shopping cart and I’m trying to make my escape before management notices.

It’s not being able to go at any moment in any day for a Starbucks run or an ice cream run or any run for that matter spontaneously. And if/when I did make that random Starbucks run at 6pm I’d definitely be drinking decaf or getting just a cake pop because caffeine at that hour of the evening would keep me up for hours.  Now?  I’m still brewing coffee for myself at 7pm at home because that one cup will give me JUST enough wake up juice to survive tucking both boys into bed without falling asleep before they do. Of course if I wanted to actually step out of the house and make a quick coffee run at that ridiculous hour at 6pm I could, but by the time kids are dressed and shoe-ed and I’ve somehow bribed my toddler to follow me to the car, it’s now about 8pm which means it’s now time to begin our 3 hour long adventure of trying to bathe, read, and sleep…. and again, trying to survive tucking both boys into bed without falling asleep before they do.

It’s not just sleep.  Oh gosh but I do miss sleep.  I once slept almost 18 hours straight after leading a youth retreat.  Now even when both boys are asleep, my body spontaneously has been trained to wake up every few hours.  In my dazed state of mind I double check baby’s blankets to make sure he’s still tightly wrapped and then on babyhong1 to make sure he’s not too hot or cold in his bed.  The two times both boys slept most of the night uninterrupted I woke up panicked and guilty.  How long was he asleep with the blanket kicked off of him like that, he must have been cold for HOURS.  Did the baby fuss or cry and did I just sleep through it?  Are they too hot?  Are they breathing?? ARE MY BOYS OKAY?!

It’s not making plans and going out with friends whenever and for whatever. To be honest, I usually spent my Friday nights curled up on the couch with hubs and the dogs and Netflix anyway, so this one isn’t that difficult.  But I do miss the freedom to go to that birthday dinner or that catch up brunch if I had the extroverted energy to.


when I was a 20-something at the store browsing… nonessentials.

It’s actually not even any of the things on my “old normal“.

It’s not any of those things but it’s all those things. What I miss most about not being a parent is being able to make a decision, ANY decision, without calculating the impact it’ll have on my kids. Every single moment now has an effect on someone (or someones) else and even if that effect is minimal, the juggling in my head of how it could affect my mini-mes isn’t minimal.  All my old normals?  Significant (or feels significant) impacts now.  Sleep in?  Kids will be hungry. Spending hours staring at nonessentials at Target? Toddler will get bored and throw tantrum in the cart that I somehow managed to get him to sit in appropriately while distracting him with a toy car that I now have to buy.  An even EXTRA coffee late at night? Now I’m wired and won’t be able to wake up early and as mentioned, sleeping in means hungry kiddos. Blast hip hop? Overstimulating babyhong2 while babyhong1 now repeats everything he hears. Glass of wine? My response skills won’t be 100%.  Brunch with the homies? Extra money on babysitting that I need to save for critical moments like work. Painting my nails?  My goodness let’s not go down the rabbit trail of the devastation caused by the fumes that google has somehow convinced me of.

Because since becoming a mom, everything matters to someone else.  My time, my body, my health. No decision seems frivolous. Each shower, each meal, each breath. My hongsongs are dependent on each and every step, movement, decision I make. Everything matters to them. The mental journey I go through when making a simple decision is exhausting.

And yet…

It seems silly…

Took me awhile to realize it…

But it reminds me that I matter. My sanity, my body, my health… they matter.  And maybe I only realize this because I only truly considered the depth of this when it mattered to someone else, but ultimately I’m reminded that because I matter so much to someone else, that I do matter.  I matter.  Not only because everything I do matters to someone else, but simply because I do.  My time, my body, my health.  They all matter.

So yes, I miss being able to make any simple or small decision with ease. I miss wondering if I should go to the store based on whether or not I feel like going to the store.  Whether I should go out to dinner or not because I’m hungry or not. I miss not creating a mental chalkboard in my head to calculate formulas and random scenarios of possible destinies that could be created whether I take a nap or not. But as much as I miss the simplicity of those decision making days, I can’t help but pause and chuckle at how dramatic my thoughts are, but more so how consumed by love my thoughts are driven.  The way my loving my kids is teaching me to love myself. And all these lessons I learn from my children?  One of the many things I love most about being a parent.


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