Spontaneity in Parenting: Is It Possible?
People always talk about how having a child changes your life. If pregnant women had a nickel for every time they heard that, saving for college would be completely unnecessary. While it’s tiring to hear over and over, it’s a cliche for a reason – having a child does change your life in the most profound way. It also changes your life in less profound but also significant ways.
One of those changes, or at least one I’ve experienced in our family, is that we’ve become much more planful. Before having Liam, I pretty much flew by the seat of my pants when it came to my personal life and I’ve noticed how significantly that’s changed over the last few years. Before Liam, the nightly dinner menu was usually decided around 6:30 p.m. and often involved trips to at least one store to pick up supplies. Now, our menu is set for the week and a weekly list is prepared and ordered based on that menu. Before Liam, travel was also pretty spontaneous. Plans for a weekend trip were often made a few days before and even for our honeymoon, other than flights and hotels, we really didn’t spend much time planning until we got there. Before Liam, that spontaneity was part of the fun but after, it started to feel too hard. We needed more structure for him as a growing boy and us as new parents. Much like happy hour and peeing alone, spontaneity feels like something you have to give up when you have a child.
A few months ago, my brother moved to Manhattan. Since the day he moved, I’ve been excitedly talking about visiting him. But of course, summer was busy and the months started to pass and as I started trying to plan it looked like it might be 2015 before we got our act together. Then last week as I was about to give up my hotel searching, I quickly looked to see what the rates were for that weekend. Not bad at all. I texted my brother and within a matter of minutes we went from no foreseeable trip to a one-night trip at a hotel I knew almost nothing about short of its proximity to my brother’s apartment. I’ll be honest, I was nervous. This trip seemed like it had meltdown written all over it. That’s why the planning feels so important, right? To prevent the inevitable breakdown when something goes wrong?
Well, I’m happy to report the weekend was a huge success. Despite being in the city for a total of 27 hours, we made them count, walking all over from Central Park to Midtown to Battery Park and Brooklyn. We walked so much that my legs are still a little sore. Was the weekend perfect? No – it was a lot of driving time for two days and the Manhattan-sized hotel room meant that we all shared the bed together for the night which was less than ideal. But what I took from the weekend was that even without weeks of preparation and a perfect plan, we all still had a great time and Liam went with the flow surprisingly well. The trip to FAO Schwartz alone was worth it for him never mind the quality time with his beloved uncle. So maybe there is room for a little bit of spontaneity in parenting if you learn to let go every once in a while.