The one percent.

I’m about to have a 3 year old on my hands, and lately I’ve been thinking about all the ways that motherhood has changed me…mostly because five of my closest friends have all had kids this spring/summer, including both of my child’s Godmothers.
GM #1's munchie.

GM #2's munchie.

When someone shares the news of a pregnancy with those around them, responses are typically always joyful.  We offer huge smiles and hugs and tell the person or couple just how happy we are for them.  We do this universally.  If you’ve had a child of your own, and the person sharing the news with you has ever judged your parenting style in any way, your elation is equally as genuine…just for different reasons.   You know what they’re about to face – both good and bad - and if you’re human, you’re damned happy about both.  

One of the five new momma friends!

A good friend of mine once told me that the first few years of raising a child is 49% misery and 51% joy.  Very rarely do we recognize anything in between those two feelings.  It’s like playing golf.  The good shots keep you playing through the back nine.  Hell, a good day followed by a couple of martinis and before you know it, you’ve got yourself a decent foursome. This is why I don’t drink and parent.

Okay fine, I drink all the time. This is why I have an IUD.

I digress.  What I’m trying to say is that the 1% of parenthood “joy” tips the scale in an extraordinary way.  When I told my mom I was pregnant, she told me I would become a better person because it would build my character in a manner that wouldn’t be achievable any other way.  At the time, I was actually pretty offended by that.  Frankly I thought it was a pretty asshole-ish thing to say– not just for me personally – but for everyone who hasn’t had a kid, either by choice or by chance. 

Mostly I was offended because I hadn’t had 3 years of character building in that 49% yet. Now that I’m on the other side of it, I get what she was trying to say. 

Don’t get me wrong.   I recognize that people can build character and strive for betterment in countless ways.  For example, I know people who've built character by working in an orphanage in the Congo, or by saving someone’s life because they put themselves though 8 miserable years of med school and fellowship training.  Cripes, I know people who've built character by running an iron man.  Some would argue I took the easy route!  All I did was have some sex and now look!  Here I am! Building character for the rest of my life! 

And dammit, I hate to admit it, but my mom was right.  Ever since my kid came along, I can’t seem to get through anything that elicits any sort of emotion without becoming one big, blubbery ball of tears – especially when it comes to other people’s kids.  Suddenly I feel empathy for people.  I'm confident that if you could measure my niceness pre and post kid, you’d find that having a kid has definitely made me less of an asshole.

One thing about having kids “later on in life” (30+, rather than 20+) is that you’ve had more time to enjoy your freedom.  You’ve had time to make a little money, to travel, to do nothing but watch America’s Next Top model on a Sunday afternoon, only leaving the couch to nurse your hangover with a Taco Johns run.  Not having kids is a frickin' blast.  And when you’ve had a few extra years to not have them, the transition to having them is a bitch.  And the effects of that 49% can be a bit exacerbated the longer you wait.  And when you finally do have a night out with your friends…especially friends who ALSO happen to have kids…it looks something like this:

A recent baby baring momma to my left.  Her 3rd, which makes her the smartest and nicest of all of us.  When we took this photo, all we'd had at this point was an uninterrupted dinner without kids.

But you know what? That 1% makes it worth it.  And that 49% makes you better.   And when your kid is running away from you, naked, clenching his butt cheeks, screaming at the top of his lungs, all because you simply want to PUT HIM ON THE TOILET SO YOU CAN SHOW HIM HOW HIS POOP CAN GO HANG OUT WITH ALL THE OTHER POOP FRIENDS IN THE TOILET…well, what else can I say?  It builds character.  

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