When women talk about how great it is to be a mom, they usually mention things like first steps, sticky kisses, crayoned pictures, piano recitals and misty-eyed graduations. But there are other terrific benefits that aren't acknowledged as often, so here's a nod to some of the ones you might not have realized. Thanks, kids - we owe you one!
You get an automatic excuse for everything. Nodding off at your desk? You can't help it - you were up with a fussy baby all night. In a bitchy mood? Who wouldn't be, after an hour of nagging the kids to pick up their rooms? Spaghetti for dinner two nights in a row? Sorry, but what with the parent-teacher conferences, shopping for the special jazz shoes your daughter needs for her 3:30 dance class, collecting your son from his playdate and getting homework done, there was no time to get to the market. If our politicians played the parenting card more often, they'd get a lot more sympathy for their political missteps. "I can't believe I couldn't remember the third cabinet department I said I was going to cut as president - but you try doing a televised debate an hour after your kid gets stomach flu and barfs on your shoes!"
You get parking lot privileges. More stores and malls are adding designated "parent parking spaces" close to their entrances for the benefit of moms and dads who have their hands full juggling kids, strollers and shopping bags. Granted, drivers without kids can try to get away with parking there too, but you're fully entitled to shoot your best glare at the college student sans car seat who pulls into the spot and offer your best wishes that one day she, too, finds herself trying to drag two tired toddlers half a mile to her car.
You can duck your civic duty. In many counties, being the primary or sole caregiver of young children makes you eligible for a one- or two-year deferment of jury duty. So don't freak out if you get a jury summons in the mail; you may not have to scramble for a sitter after all. And if you do have to serve and get put on a case? Just say that since becoming a parent, you assume everyone's guilty because you don't want to take the chance that any creepy criminals might be roaming the streets where your kid plays. You won't get past voir dire.
You get more stuff. From the blingy push presents moms now claim as their due to the extra birthday and Christmas gifts that come "from the kids," motherhood can really pay off sometimes. Coupons fill your mailbox; contests offering sweet mom swag fill the parenting websites. And let's not forget that second Sunday in May. Presents, cards, brunch, maybe even an afternoon to yourself - all because you're a veteran of potty-training, mac 'n'cheese and SpongeBob. Not too shabby.
You meet some great people. By far, the best perk of all. The pediatrician who takes you seriously when your baby "just isn't acting like himself" and offers reassurance even when you call her service at 1 AM. The science teacher who sparks your child's curiosity about the way the world works. The moms on Twitter who host virtual "wine parties" every Wednesday night and share laughs and tips. The children's librarian who always recommends the best books and lets you know ahead of time when the new Mo Willems is going to arrive. They're a vital part of your world now, but you'd never have given them the time of day if the pregnancy test hadn't come back positive.
These five only scrape the surface. Let me hear from you - what unusual perks have you claimed since becoming a mom?