Sure, there are oodles of events that alter your habits as a consumer. Graduating college, getting married, buying a pet, moving to a new city.
But the big honkin’ mother of all lifechanging events is, well, becoming a mother. Or a father, of course.
It’s not just because your needs and priorities change. It’s because for all intents and purposes, you are no longer in control. The little pooper you’ve created (or adopted, or won on eBay) now runs the show. If you think anything else, you’re a silly, amusing, deluded little soul.
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I love my boys more than anything. But rarely do I now make a choice that doesn’t take them into consideration.
Take entertainment, for example. A friend recently asked me if I had seen the new movie “Grindhouse.” Nope—but I have seen every episode of “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”
Or what about food? Dining out invariably involves a toy and fries with the meal. I’m at a loss when someone asked me for a dining recommendation in my town—sometimes, I tell them to go to places that closed four years ago…which was the last time I had culinary freedom.
As for grocery shopping, trips to the supermarket are major negotiations.
Yes, you can get the waffles. No, you can’t have the cookies. Yes, we can get raisins. No, you can’t have M&Ms. Yogurt with M&M crunch topping? Okay, I’ll give in to that—if you eat your dinner.
Shopping in general has changed. In the past, if I wanted some new clothes, I might have spent an entire afternoon wandering around the mall or boutiques in the city. Now, it’s like a military mission—I might have an hour to run into one store, hoping like heck they have what I need. If I don’t have that hour out of the house, after hours I’ll order from a catalog I like online, hoping like heck the items look as nice as they do in the pictures.
I plot out trips to Target a week in advance, amassing an insanely large list of everything from birthday presents for my kids’ friends to paper towels to underwear to cat treats. My purse is stocked with snacks and toys to keep the 18 month old happy and entertained, and I zoom around the store, knowing the clock began ticking on his patience the moment I plopped him in the shopping cart.
Friends with older children assure me that when the nippers get older and decide that it’s no longer cool to spend time with mom and dad, we’ll get our lives back.
I have moments when I pine for that. Then I smarten up and realize I’m the luckiest person in the world to be the main attraction in my little ringmasters’ show.