parenting means always being on call

The last time I was drunk was in May of 2005, the night before we started trying to have what turned out to be Noah.

It’s not because I realized I have a drinking problem and got on the proverbial wagon … which would not be at all surprising, given my family history. It’s certainly not because I just haven’t wanted to have two or three more drinks. (Oh, no, it is not.) It’s because … parenting.

Because we’re always on call.

Because it would really, really suck to be on that one-more-drink and suddenly have to switch gears to parent a child who’s up with a nightmare or who’s started coughing and is coming down with a surprise nasty cold.

Because we can’t take a lazy Sunday to sleep in and take it easy, anyway. And we certainly can’t do our festively mindless drinking during the day, because … parenting and supper prep and all that. (And although I am talking about drinking at this particular moment, any form of really and truly zoning out or letting go of responsibilities–staying up way late just to have fun–lots of things we used to do without a second thought–are all at stake here, too.)

This would be different, I guess, if we had money and trusted childcare options. But even then, even if we got to do overnights away from our children (wouldn’t want to right now anyway, but before Simon or a couple years from now), we’d still be on call. We’d still make sure our ringers were on, check our phones from time to time for missed calls, wake up annoyingly early out of habit. If your child has to be rushed to the emergency room, you get called. If your child’s caregiver has a question, you get called. Because … well … you’re the parents. We’re the parents.

And parents, as it turns out, are always on call, always expected to be ready, for years on end.

That would have been so hard to imagine seven years ago! And now it’s incredibly difficult to imagine that, sometime in the future, we’ll be able to be safely loopy and self-absorbed again from time to time!


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  1. ruth
    Posted 30 January 2013 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

    The women in my office all tell me that I will, eventually, have a lazy weekend again. They all have kids older than 17 and are understanding/sympathetic when I come back to work exhausted after the weekend.

    They also tell me that my girls will, eventually, be potty trained.

    I refuse to believe it…

  2. Posted 1 February 2013 at 3:28 AM | Permalink

    I hear you, I hear you. It’s not like I miss a hangover, but I certainly do miss the way a bottle of wine with friends can turn into case of wine and the longest conversations and so much late-night laughing and a late night walk to the diner and watching the sun come up as I fall asleep. I miss the freedom for that kind of night to even exist.

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  • By Make Magic of Your Life As A Parent on 2 March 2013 at 12:05 AM

    [...] feeding or separation anxiety follow so rigorous a spiritual program as Thorn lays out? I mean Molly at First the Egg points out how, “parents, as it turns out, are always on call, always expected to be ready, [...]

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