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Do you miss the life you had before kids?

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft, Parenting Perspectives columnist

MOORHEAD, Minn. — "Do you ever, you know, miss the life you had before you had children?"

I could almost hear the question being whispered when I read it in my mom group.

The answers started coming in — a trickle at first, then more as people gained confidence from other moms admitting that they, too, miss parts of child-free life.

"I wouldn't trade my sons for anything, but I am so tired of feeling like I spend every moment taking care of them."

"Yes! I love her, but sometimes I just want the peace and freedom I had before my daughter was born."

"Mostly I miss being able to pee alone."

I joined them.

"I wouldn't want to go back to life without her, but I'd be lying if I didn't say there are days where all I can think is 'If I didn't have a kid right now, I'd have finished this Netflix series a week ago and my floor wouldn't be so sticky.'"

And it's true — parts of life are definitely more difficult with a child. My free time isn't really "mine" in the same way anymore. I can't even schedule a dentist appointment without figuring out child care, my home gets dirtier faster with more people living there, and the older my daughter gets, the fiercer the battle for the remote becomes. The responsibility of parenthood pervades every aspect of my life.

We don't always talk about it, or if we do, we make sure to open with "I love my kid, BUT ..." We don't want others to think that we're saying we regret having children or don't appreciate them, but some days this parenting stuff is really freaking hard.

But every step of adulthood makes life harder in some ways. Do I sometimes miss the freedom I had before my daughter was born? Yes. But I also sometimes miss the freedom I had before I got married, before I got a "real" job, before I moved out of my parents' basement, before I had to take responsibility for my own life.

Would I want to take back any of those things and go back to how things were before? No.

(Well, maybe my parents' basement. It's a very nice basement, and the older I get the more I enjoy spending time with my parents, so it wouldn't be all bad.)

As I read through what other moms had to say about things they missed from their pre-child life, I wondered what this conversation would look like in 25 years. Would we rejoice in the freedoms we were yearning for today, or would we miss our days of sticky floors and endless episodes of "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood"?

I can't say for sure how I'll feel in a few decades, but my guess is that part of me will miss this. I'm sure I'll find myself in 2043, watching Netflix in my holodeck after arriving home in my flying car, thinking "I wish Callie were here. It's too bad I don't have a nicer basement to make her want to live with me forever."

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft is hub manager for Forum Design Center. She lives in Moorhead with her husband and their daughter, Calliope. She can be reached at astrnad@forumcomm.com.

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