By Eliska Counce, TSB Columnist
If you’re a parent, you know the Herculean nature of the toughest job on the planet. It’s a marathon, a Homeric journey, parenting, and it’s not glamorous work. Intensive parenting can be repetitive, dirty, exhausting, and boring. You’ve got to grab what you can to keep going, find the little rewards for yourself to stave off the occasional, nagging resentment and help make the whole endeavor a little less stressful. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 10 most guilty pleasures of parents that help make the whole child-rearing experience a little more pleasant:
1. Kid’s leftovers. Macaroni and cheese. Fried chicken strips and nuggets. Pizza crusts (or “bones,” as we call them around here). Happy Meal cheeseburger halves. I would never buy and eat these foods for myself as often as my kids get them. Luckily, anything I shove in my mouth over the sink while cleaning up after dinner has no calories. Likewise with any leftovers. I circle my children’s half-eaten meals like a vulture. Again, if it’s half a quesadilla on a Hello Kitty plate, it doesn’t count.
2. Trashy, stupid, or R-rated TV and movies. As parenting shaves IQ points off of you, you will find great relief in stopping thinking after the children go to bed. The History Channel or NOVA will put you to sleep anyway. You will be a beaten person by the end of the day. You will take pleasure in slipping into a semi-coma as the Jersey Shore crowd fist pumps or as Donald Trump fires people. You will be surprised to find yourself slack-jawed in front of anything that doesn’t require you to use your brain. You will want cursing and adult content. You will want to live vicariously through violent programming.
3. Free babysitting and time away from the kids. So many parents feel badly about grandparents or other family and friends watching our kids while we escape. Don’t. Run. Run like the wind. It’s a parenting trade secret that it is indeed okay to be happy to be away from the kids and even better to not talk about them at all while you’re out. They nagged you for grandchildren. Arm them with sugar and children’s programming and don’t look back.
4. Any and all child restraint toys. People without children think Johnny Jump-Ups, walkers, and play pens are for children’s amusement. Not so. These apparati are for keeping the rug rat in one spot so you can doze on the couch. I think once I’ve left my kid in an automatic swing so long his legs went blue. At least the Baby Einstein bouncer taught me a little about classical music.
5. The post-bedtime tipple. Oh, I’ll just say it. WINE. Just be careful not to combine with social media, or the next morning you may find some really interesting string of You Tube clips you posted on Facebook that you’d like to take back. For the love of Mike, don’t drink and tweet.
6. Watching other people’s kids freak out in public. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Your kid is just as embarrassing as mine, and it makes me feel better. Let’s not talk about how this reflects poorly on me. Just know I feel your pain as we exchange apologetic grimaces in the toy aisle.
7. Staying up too late. A guilty pleasure while it’s happening, a feeling of death warmed over follows in the morning. But combined with numbers 2 and 5, it becomes pretty easy to tell yourself you’ll sleep when you’re dead. Related:
8. Coffee and coffee accessories. Coffee. Or as we at my home refer to it: The Life-Giving Elixir. Surely I must own stock in Starbucks as many lattes as I’ve purchased there. I have collected cabinets full of mugs with witty and/or pithy sayings on them. I have every creamer flavor known to man. Did you know they make caramel sauce for coffee? I do. Approach me before I’ve had coffee in the morning or risk drawing back a bloody stump.
9. Casual wear. God created yoga pants and hats because he loves us and understands it’s hard to get a shower when you’ve got small kids. You’re not a parent until you’ve sat in carpool in your pajama pants and/or barefoot. Bonus points if you manage to get fully dressed but still walk out of the house in your slippers.
10. The 45-minute bathroom visit. Let’s face it: if you have to sit in the bathroom for 45 minutes, you don’t have to go. You’re hiding. Which I endorse wholeheartedly. Other good places to hide from your children for a breather: the master bedroom closet is usually big enough. The back yard. And one of my favorites: the laundry room. If you’re like me, there’s probably a pile of laundry big enough to crawl into and disappear for a week.
So, Godspeed, my fellow parents. Consider this my blessing to grab what you can to keep moving when the going gets tough. Having children is not unlike a hostage situation. You gotta do what you gotta do to stay sane and survive the tough times. Now if you’ll forgive me, I’m going to take my wine and trashy magazine and go perch, oh so quietly, on top of the dryer for awhile. Cheers.