Everybody loves a rainy weekend.
You wake up a little later than normal, you stay in your pajamas a lot later than normal, you lounge in bed or on your couch with a big mug of hot coffee, under a blanket, and you watch some mindless TV, or a some movies you’ve seen a hundred times. It’s glorious.
Unless you have kids, in which case none of that will ever happen ever again for the rest of your entire life.
Because kids don’t let you be lazy.
We already know that parenting robs you of the ability to sleep, or to ever be well-rested. And we already know that having kids means spontaneity is a thing of the past; doing anything without a plan, and without requisitions, it’s impossible. We already know you’ll never not be stressed, and you’ll never have an unsullied Netflix queue.
Parenting takes a lot from a person. The loss of the ability to be lazy may be the most painful.
This isn’t just about down-time. It’s not just about how hectic life becomes when there are kids in it. It goes deeper than always having something kid-related on the schedule, whether it’s a play-date or a birthday party or little league practice or a trip to a museum.
This is about effort.
There is so much responsibility inherent in this gig that even putting forth the least parenting effort possible requires significant exertion. I don’t care if you’re sick, tired, hungover or just burnt out: if you have kids, you have things to do. Parenthood is the end of the laziness.
You want to sit around all Saturday and watch TV and relax? Sounds great, but your 6-year-old is hungry and he can’t make a PB&J by himself. Also, he’s bored of watching TV and he’s bored of his toys and he wants to you to play with him and he wants to go somewhere and he won’t stop bugging you. Sayonara, relaxation! Also your baby just pooped his pants and is about to eat a LEGO off the floor. Get off your ass, you’ve seen that movie fifty times already!
I forgot to mention that your baby also needs a bottle but he can’t hold it by himself plus he needs some real food too and for every bite that gets in his mouth three land on his shirt and the floor and the carpet and his hair so when you’re done feeding him clean the floor and the carpet and his entire body and start the laundry, yes I know there’s a game coming on you can miss the beginning, calm down!
You want to watch the second half and have a few beers? Sorry but your 6-year-old has an endless reserve of energy and if it doesn’t get spent he’s going to break something in the house or on his body so at halftime you have to take him to the park or else it will be impossible to get him to bed tonight so feel free to stay on the couch but if you do you can kiss your precious kids-are-asleep alone time goodbye. Oh and he also has an endless reserve of annoying questions and inane comments and terrible jokes and infuriating “no!”s and high-pitched whines and if he doesn’t have an outlet for it you’re gonna end up with a headache and an ulcer and alcoholism so turn the game off and talk to him oh it’s over already and you missed the whole thing? Perfect!
Even when you have no responsibilities – when your toddler is sitting by himself watching TV, or the baby is sleeping soundly in his crib – your parenting engine is always idling. It’s always ready to shift into gear. It’s never off. Because they’re never off. (Don’t even get me started on vacation.)
You can eventually come to terms with the constant stress of potential, theoretical catastrophe – after all, you love your kids and their lives and well-being are the most precious things in the world to you, protecting them is worth the stress. It’s harder to accept the fact that even in the absence of catastrophe, simply by virtue of their existence and their presence and the fact that they are literally in your face and on top of you at all times, relaxation is impossible. Laziness is impossible.
Even when there’s nothing scheduled, no one is in danger, everyone is safe at home with nothing to do, there’s always something to be done. Sadly, vegging out on the couch is rarely on the to-do list.