I was sitting in the parent waiting room at Ballet class staring at a wall trying to avoid eye contact with the dozen or so other parents (I was not in the mood for socialization this early Sunday morning). As I turned and watched the room full of 5 year old girls (why wasn't there any boys?) throwing away our money, following the lead of a Ballet Conservatory drop-out, I had to ask - is this what I'll be doing every weekend from here on out?
For all you who don't have the pleasure of spending your Saturdays and Sundays as a chauffeur from piano to ballet to swimming to play dates to sports - I recommend taking a serious look at what you do presently and ask yourself, "do I want to give this all up for 18-25 years?"
Don't kid yourself, I've been there. I watched with sorrow mixed with jealously as dozens of friends would meet up on any given Sunday at the local bar or someones house for endless hours of meaningless football games, processed salty foods, cheap beer and an occasional nutritional intake such as bacon or pepperoni pizza. I used to be invited - and inevitably every autumn someone accidentally calls, texts or emails asking if I want to join in. After they realize the error of their ways - that I'm on the "family wagon," I stop getting the invites for another year. And yes, I'm doing my best to acclimate my children to the nuances (I don't think that's the best word usage, but I can't think of anything else at the moment) of football without any assistance from their mother. But I've had little success in that department this year. Instead I do my best to put the youngest down for a nap some time during the first quarter so I can at least some of the game in. Okay, enough about football - that's but a quarter of the year worth of weekends. Instead, let's focus on the other 38.
The majority of us spend 60-70 hours during the week commuting, working, exercising and at times shopping. Then, we spend a fraction of the day, mostly in the morning or at night with our loved ones saying "hi", "goodbye", "don't forget to take out the trash" or "stop leaving your underwear in the hallway."Now imagine, and I'm talking to the non-parents in the crowd, you throw in mini versions of yourselves without the common sense, the fine motor skills to drive or write legibly. Or, think of height-challenged clones - completely drunk. Then imagine having to teach, console, listen, discipline and introduce them to toilet usage. Oh, and did I mention there's another parent in the house who will have a diametrically opposite opinion on how to raise the drunken clones? Don't even get me started. There will be time in the future for me to get in trouble writing about that.
So here's my point - the orginal one that crossed my mind at ballet. Your life isn't your own anymore, there will be no more spontaneous 10pm rendevous for a secret show, no sleep-ins to 12pm on Saturdays watching Charlie's Angels marathons on TNT til 6pm. Don't get me wrong, you will have your time to hang with the guys or girls or whatever gets you off, but now it will require negotiation, weighing the prioritizations versus the kids and any ancillary activities that you've been invited to by parents you don't know only because your kindergarten child has four boyfriends.
I'm not complaining, let's be frank. What I realized instead that like our offspring, we too have play dates. That's all they are. We don't have the flexibility to be "free" with our free time. And if we do, it's maybe once or twice a year. Like today, some of my token DINK friends decided to have lunch and a beer a few blocks from the homestead. They texted and asked if I'd like to join. Once out of twenty times (and I counted) can I say yes to them. Fortunately due to the wife having the day off, and after a two-hour Skype job interview, I had the pleasure of walking down the street, not in a rush and join them for a few moments. I asked what they were doing for the rest of the day - and they didn't know. Really? You didn't know? Could you at least make up something to the effect of "oh, we have work on the sub pump. We think a dead rat got wedged in there."
Do I envy the DINKs of the world? Sometimes. Do I miss weekend calm mornings with a cup of coffee and a newspaper? Absolutely. Would I ever try and force it back in at the expense of our two wonderful and wild cyclones? Well, maybe - but only for a weekend.