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5 Simple Pleasures Only Parents Will Understand

Photograph by Twenty20

Being a parent is famously the toughest and most satisfying challenge most people take on, but the pleasures of parenthood can also be wonderfully modest and mundane. Here are five simple pleasures only parents and caretakers of children will know:

1. The satisfaction of completely untangled car seat straps

Why are car seat straps always as the twisted as the imagination of M. Night Shyamalan? I have no idea. It’s almost as if these tricky straps have a mind and will of their own. Yes, the parental war on tangled car seat straps can never be conclusively won, but it is possible to win occasional victories. I consequently experienced a deep, if fleeting, moment of satisfaction when I was able to completely detangle my son’s car straps and strap the little dude in exactly how God, and also the car seat manual, intended.

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2. The messy-yet-perfect partnership of a hungry dog and uncoordinated toddler

For the past two years my son has been a total slob while eating. Sometimes the food makes the voyage from his fork to his mouth successfully, but more likely, the food ends up on his shirt or his tray. Lucky for us we have a dog who loves to scarf up dropped food on the floor.

Normally, having a baby that's constantly flinging food on the floor and a dog with an insatiable hunger for people food, would both be negatives. Together, however, my messy baby and hungry dog work together in a state of perfect symbiosis to ensure that the floor is cleaned constantly. And it's awesome.

3. The telltale breathing that confirms that a baby is asleep

For many parents, lying with babies while waiting for them to drift off to sleep is both a cherished moment of connection and an aggravation that can take so long that they start to wonder if they’ll ever sleep again. But whether lying down to sleep with a baby is a treasured act of bonding or something dreaded, all parents experience a soul-satisfying shiver of joy when the baby starts breathing those deep, uniform breaths that broadcast that they're truly asleep, affording their exhausted folks a rare moment of peace.

But sometimes—just sometimes— parents get a night to themselves thanks to the kindness of a relative or friend willing to babysit.

4. Finding a container of milk when you think you’re all out

Much of the first two years of my son’s life has been an ongoing, never-ending quest to change diapers and bottles and buy the diapers and formula, milk and milk-type products that my baby goes through at a ferocious clip. So we always try to keep industrial levels of each on hand.

Yet despite our efforts, we go through the milk and diapers so quickly that we sometimes run out. That’s why it’s always amazing when you think you’re out of your baby’s drink of choice, but you look in your fridge just to check and bam! another container of milk awaits you.

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5. The ecstasy of occasionally being able to sleep in

One of the many occupational hazards of being a parent is constant sleeplessness. But sometimes—just sometimes— parents get a night to themselves thanks to the kindness of a relative or friend willing to babysit. And sometimes, a baby that normally has trouble sleeping inexplicably gifts their parents with a full night of sleep that stretches into the morning. There's nothing more exciting for sleep-deprived parents than being able to go to sleep through the night and even sleep in, like some manner of non-parent. Then the babe returns, along with the sleeplessness, and we’re left to dream once again of the lost bliss of uninterrupted sleep.

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