We already know all the things that make parenthood miserable. They all seem to focus on what you’re lacking: lack of sleep, lack of sex, lack of money, lack of freedom, etc… But what most essays about becoming parents miss is the benefits of having kids – and I’m not talking about the obvious, “My capacity for love is expanded with each child!” reasons, I’m talking about the down-and-dirty ways that having kids allows you to set yourself free and make your life infinitely better. For example:
1. They are the perfect opt-out excuse. Say you’re invited to Great Aunt Tilly’s 87th birthday party which is a two hour drive each way and you would really prefer to spend your Sunday plopped on the living room sofa. Having kids gives you a perfectly good excuse – Timmy gets carsick…Olivia has a big dance recital that day and she would be devastated to miss it…Sorry, there’s school the next day and we can’t be out that late. Who can argue with those perfectly good reasons?
2. Your house can be a mess and no one calls you a slob. Got a pile of dishes in the sink? Toys scattered everywhere? Laundry baskets overflowing? Hey, you’ve got kids! What’s more important than attending to their needs…dishes? Laundry? I think not!
3. You never have to claim responsibility for lost or broken items. Where’s the remote? I don’t know, kids must have put it somewhere. Who stuffed up the toilet…those pesky kids again.
4. It’s why you always have ice cream and M&M’s in the house. Of course it’s not for you! You stock the freezer with at least four pints of Ben & Jerry’s and buy every new flavor of M&Ms for the kids….right?
5. They do things for you! Little ones just looooove to be helpful! They want to help with little household chores like sweeping and dusting. Unfortunately, sometimes they get distracted ( no problem, see number two). Older children require more nagging, but will do things like walk the dog, take out the trash, and empty the dishwasher (but then you often have to bribe them with something, see number four).
6. They are pure entertainment. Have you ever watched a two or three year old throwing a tantrum? Objectively, these can be downright funny. Other than in bars at two am, how often do you get to see people fall on the floor, scream, cry, and make outrageous statements. And you can post them on YouTube and become an internet sensation overnight…priceless.
7. You never have to worry about oversleeping. Most kids are human alarm clocks. They wake at the break of dawn, run into your room and pounce on your most sensitive parts. If that doesn’t get you out of bed, nothing will.