I'll be honest: until recently, this whole parenthood thing has felt uncomfortably one-sided. I mean, my son is practically a black belt in consumption. The more I give, the more he takes, and when I have nothing left to give or simply can't give fast enough, a quick, teary-eyed banshee scream and back-arching fall to the floor ensure that I get in line, fast.
See, in the beginning I didn't realize the extent of his needs and how often he would need it -- whatever "it" was. I quickly figured out, however, that what he requires is far worse than a few diaper changes or a quick boob cocktail every few hours. What he needs is me.
He needs every ounce of emotional, physical and mental energy that makes up my existence. And because he is a brain-cell-killing and time-sucking monopolizer, by the end of the day I am depleted of both patience and the will to fight back.
After I put him to bed at night, I poured myself some dinner, sat in the tub and reflected on the fact that my life isn't mine anymore. It belongs to a two-foot Napoleon hell-bent on turning me into a female version of Gary Busey. I thought to myself, "What am I getting out of this?"
Then, it dawned on me: I need my son, too! Sure, I need him because he keeps me accountable and reminds me that even the smallest feats are worth celebrating. But more than anything, I need him for the following six reasons:
1. Boarding flights early.
I don't know about you, but nothing gives me greater pleasure than prancing past all of the suckers huddled up like a herd of cattle, impatiently waiting for their rows to be called. To see the look of outrage and entitlement in their eyes when I stroll by. It's like walking the red carpet and waving to all of the little people. The high I get from feeling so special makes sitting on the tarmac for an hour without air conditioning and the six-hour flight with a walking toddler seem like a breeze. Winning!
2. Eating off the kids' menu.
I can't tell you how many times I've dreamed of eating off that menu prior to having my son. Why should I pay $4.25 for macaroni and cheese from the regular menu when I can get it for $4 from the kids' menu? Sorry, restaurateurs, you can't take advantage of this patron anymore. Thanks for fulfilling my dream, son. It's been a long time coming.
3. Cutting in the bathroom line.
Long line for the loo at Starbucks? No problem. Tell your kid to cross their legs, grab at their crotch and do the pee dance while loudly proclaiming that the "poo is coming NOW, mommy." Don't forget to make eye contact and smile meekly at the person in the front of the line. I know my son is too young for this, but I have faith that when the time comes, fail me he will not.
4. Flaking on parties.
You were so excited when you got the invite to your boss's brother's girlfriend's charity event to raise money for endangered ants. You had every intention of going, but it's Friday night, you've been working all week, and with L.A. traffic, you won't get to the venue 15 miles away until next Tuesday. You can't just flake and you were perfectly healthy at work today. What do you do? You call in kid-sick! Pick one, any one. Croup. Hand, Foot and Mouth. Pink eye. Diarrhea. The possibilities are endless. Don't worry if it's not true. Odds are that within 24-48 hours your kid will contract something. Winning... again!
5. Running late.
Kids are like life-sized get-out-of-jail-free cards when it comes to punctuality. In fact, people just assume you're going to be late. So relax, kick back and enjoy those extra five minutes of The Bold and The Beautiful. You just bought yourself 18 years of blaming them for running late, so don't be an overachiever now. You don't want people to think you're put together; they might expect you to do stuff.
Ever feel like you're running out of acceptable excuses for how inadequate you are? Having kids is like having pocket aces of blame, and the high card always wins. For instance, sleepless nights and exhaustion are the culprits every time I lose my temper. If I say something really stupid or I forget something, it's usually just a case of "mommy brain."
So you see, raising kids isn't one-sided at all. It's an extremely rewarding, mutually beneficial relationship with endless opportunities for you to learn from one other. In fact, we need our kids just as much as they need us -- if not more.
So when your little one throws your heels in the toilet for the umpteenth time, and you feel a case of "the Buseys" coming on, just pour yourself some dinner and recall all of the wonderful things that your kids contribute to your life. You could be eating off the adult menu like all of the other kid-less grown-ups out there.