1. Babysitters. Holy shit we love our babysitters. It’s typically a family member, but they are the backbone of parental sanity. You mean I can go see a show, drink heavily, take a cab home, and you’ll keep my kids from lighting the house on fire and dyeing their mouths with food coloring? TAKE ALL THE MONEY.
2. Other Parents. The typified image of parents is of those who sneak their kids into every conversation, demand you hear about their soccer games, and simply spend way too much time surrounded only by people one fifth their age. However, once the kids are out of ear shot (though for some that’s not a necessity), we sound closer to Louis CK than June Cleaver. You want to hear what parents laugh about? “You know what my four-year-old did today? She came into the kitchen and said ‘when I’m your age, I hope I’m nothing like you.'” My own spawn despises me! Hilarious, I know.
3. Sharing interests with your kids. Oh, so you like Taylor Swift? Here’s Lisa Loeb, Sarah McLachlan, Regina Spektor, and Lana Del Rey. Oh, you like World of Warcraft? Here’s Final Fantasy, Shadow of the Colossus, Civilization. Oh, you like Disney’s children shows? Here’s Clarissa Explains It All, Salute Your Shorts, and Hey, Dude. I’m from the golden age, little bitches.
4. School. Hey, new parents. Pssst. Over here. I have a secret for you. You know how you just gave up anything resembling privacy? What if I told you there is a building you can put your kids into for seven hours a day? Wait, wait. Hold on. It is real. It’s filled with people who at some point in their lives actually wanted to do this and you don’t pay a thing. They even feed them! Well, you pay school taxes, but when you realize you can make a bagel and tea without the urge to break the soul of the tiny creature currently breaking yours, it’s worth it.
5. You actually have real problems. There’s a certain disregard for single people problems. Oh, your boyfriend won’t return your texts in a timely manner? Wow, that’s rough. Reminds me of the time my daughter was doing the balance beam on a picnic table, split her chin open when she inevitably fell, and I received lectures from no less than four medical professionals on my self-worth as a parent and a person. I suppose that isn’t that big a deal, but do let me know what he says in response to “What r u up to?”
6. You find out who your real friends are. The people who knew you before children and choose to still associate with you are magic. I realize that’s like saying “only my real friends visited me in prison,” but the presence of kids help weed out those who weren’t really worth your time to begin with.
7. You actually have fewer regrets. Regret getting blackout drunk last night? Getting a possession charge? Missing work so you could play Bioshock: Infinite all day? These aren’t even options when you have kids. So while I look back on my “wasted” youth with the solemnity of an ocean looking upon the storm, you can hate yourself for all the small stuff.
8. Kids are a good excuse to go places. Even if you can’t justify the expense of the trip, taking a kid to the Smithsonian for the first time is worth any cost. Want to go to the observation deck of the Empire State Building without feeling too cheesy? Kids make that possible. Everything you did for the first time now feels new again, be it seeing the Grand Canyon of hearing Abbey Road. Wow, #8 is too sentimental.
9. Retirement dreams. Of course, very few careers allow for a real retirement these days. But the day your kids can stand on their own is such an immense thing to look forward to. You and your spouse can move to France, live in a studio apartment, and still feel good about what you’ve done with your life.
10. Kids do not eliminate selfishness. As much as having kids might give you something to live for, they are far from a cure to the need to advance yourself. For generations, this need was ignored and created a malaise in people who’s general responsibility was child-rearing; Betty Friedan called this “the problem that has no name.” But this is not 1963. You, the modern parent, can look at the insanity of Betty Draper with an anthropological awe. Your kids may be your top priority, but striking a balance between fulfilling your needs and theirs is not just the balancing act of a good parent but of a good (and immensely patient) person.