A guy I went to high school with posted something about parenthood that really resonated with me. His brother-in-law, Nick, who I also went to high school with, commented and I think he might be onto something. I laughed out loud when I saw it because it just felt so honest and so, so relatable. I’ve just got the one kid but they each have three now. I can only imagine a day in their lives.
I frequently joke to my husband about how I never get to eat meals while they’re still hot now that we have a baby. Whenever I do manage to get a hot bite in, he always makes sure to mention it.
Recently, on one such occasion, I sat down on the couch and took that first hot bite of a quesadilla. Then my daughter lunged into my lap and nearly slapped my plate right out of my hand. I then sat with my daughter in my lap, holding my plate above both of our heads. Her little fingers were desperately scraping at the plate. I felt around blindly for my food so I could gobble it up before it all spilled on the floor. My husband sat a few feet away, enjoying his own quesadilla, as if behind an invisible cloak, totally unnoticed. So technically, he’s right. I do occasionally get to eat a meal while it’s still hot. But I think this exemplifies the circumstances under which that happens.
Last Sunday, my husband took our daughter to visit his parents, so I could have a day to myself to get some chores done. I wrote up a list of all the things I wanted to get done. I listened to the garage door go down and breathed a joyful sigh as I looked around at my empty kitchen. Then I started rushing around trying to check off as many items as I could before they returned.
At lunchtime, I took a break to make myself a sandwich. As I stood at my kitchen counter wolfing down my meal, I suddenly realized there was no child clawing at my ankles or climbing the piano. Why was I eating with such urgency? I had actually rationalized to myself that the faster I ate my sandwich, the more time I would have to get through my list. Then maybe, just maybe, I’d have a chance to sit down and relax for a few minutes before they came home.
So even when my child isn’t around, she still rushes me through my meals. It’s almost chilling how children permeate every single corner of our lives, even when we think we’ve escaped them for a few precious hours of alone time.
Maybe the problem isn’t literally the hot meals. Sitting down to a hot meal is just a symbol for the things we used to have time for, the things we used to be able to do in a timely fashion, before little humans’ needs came first. As a parent, there will never be enough hours in the day to be the mom, wife, housekeeper, employee, townsperson, seamstress, and everything else that I want to be. It helps a little to know that feeling seems shared by parents almost universally.