This evening my extended family and I were trying to have a nice dinner, and then a nice game of cards, but then this one little thing kept interfering- the fact that we have offspring. First my sister-in-law had to come late because of her daughter's friend's birthday party, then her husband had to come late because of a bit of a rough afternoon with their son, so we ended up eating dinner in shifts. Then my own daughter hit her head on her high chair halfway through the meal and had to be comforted and plied with a bottle. Soon after, my brother-in-law arrived, son in tow, and headed off to the kitchen to prepare their dinners. His aforementioned child sat at the table, looking tragic and forlorn, and repeated over and over, mantra-like, "I want Mom.... I want Mom..."
Later, we tried card playing, but my little one was busy trying to take down my wine glass and steal her cousin's blanky and such, and, having reached her limit, decided to remove everything in her immediate vicinity from the table with one grand sweep of her arm. She proceeded to wiggle and moan and nothing, nothing would do, not Mommy's lap or Grandma's lap or a bottle or the glorious toys which had moments earlier been so engrossing.
The game was cut a bit short. No one quite seemed up for it, after diaper changes and the handing out of numerous graham crackers and the head counts to make sure everyone was present and accounted for and not, say, playing a rousing round of spill the juice on Grandma's sofa or whatever. My husband said wryly, as we were packing up to leave, "Everything's so much more fun with kids!"
And so I got to thinking: No it's not. This was honestly kind of disillusioning for me, despite having been in the company of children quite a lot and having some familiarity with their ways. It hadn't really occurred to me before, though, I guess because I was so accustomed to having the kids around during these family events that I wouldn't have thought to question whether their presence there was really very fun. It just was.
But you know what? It would be more fun if they weren't there. Or at least it would be more fun in the sense of "playing a game out to its conclusion without everybody having to jump up seventy-five freaking times to attend to the needs of other people in other rooms."
And then when we got home- it is Saturday night, mind you- I was so tired I went to bed before eleven. Exciting stuff, huh?
But this is the life we chose, all of us who have children. If you go somewhere with your kids, you can't be surprised when there are a few hiccups in the smooth socializing flow that you used to enjoy pre-baby. So maybe I just need to redefine fun, stop demanding it on my own terms. Old fun was lingering conversations and uninterrupted meals and staying up late. New fun is seeing my relatives interact with my daughter and watching her learn new skills like self-feeding and banging her toys together. New fun is taking one last peak at my baby, sleeping like an angel, before I tuck my own tired self in.
So I take it back. It would not have been more fun to have dinner without the kids. It would have been a different kind of fun, yes, and a kind of fun that I occassionally miss. But we have a new fun now, a fun I know I will most definitely miss when it has left us.