It's no secret that becoming a mother changes your life, but it's often the small changes that end up being the most surprising. Sure, you're not going to sleep as often and your priorities are going to change, but becoming a mom changes how you celebrate the 4th of July, too, and just like any other change parenthood provides, those changes can be both good and bad.
Before I had a baby, 4th of July meant barbecues and booze and laying out in the sun without any sunblock because, well, hello tanned skin for the remainder of the summer. It definitely meant times with friends and staying out way too late and being extremely carefree. Now? Now it means all the sunblock I can buy and family friendly celebrations and, sometimes, even just staying at home because big crowds are such a pain. I can tell you that for me, personally, I like 4th of July celebrations as a mother. I get to watch my son experience them for the first time; watch him as he stares at fireworks; watch him play with other kids and run through sprinklers and enjoy himself without a care in the world. I get to facilitate my son's happiness, and there's nothing better than that (plus I don't get sunburned near as often, which is a win).
I might not be as carefree as I used to be, but the ways my 4th of July celebrations have changed now that I'm a mom constantly remind me that parenthood is a set of wonderful, sometimes, hilarious changes that I wouldn't give back for the world.
Alcohol Consumption Isn't The Same
If I'm being honest, there was some heavy drinking during my pre-baby 4th of July celebrations. Red, white and blue jello shots and other alcoholic drinks were a-plenty. Now? Yeah, now I stick to water so that I can stay hydrated and aware and constantly vigilant of my kid. Sure, there might be a beer or two involved, but drinking is minimal because, well, it's not the main attraction of a 4th of July celebration anymore.
You're All About Family-Friendly Events...
When picking out a 4th of July celebration, it has to be family-friendly. It seems like such an obvious change now, but before I had a baby I didn't realize that I would rather go to a small gathering than a large, potentially out-of-control one, once I had a kid. It's the small ways that motherhood changes you that tends to be the most surprising.
...But Probably Avoid Well-Known Landmarks Or Crowded Places
I used to love large crowds and being around tons of people but now that I'm a mother I'm just, like, no. Nope. I'm good to stay at home or just be around one or two family members or friends. It's so much easier to watch (and enjoy) my kid, when I'm not around a bunch of people. Big crowds? No thank you.
You Pack Way More Sunblock Than You Used To
I was all about getting a tan and never brought sunblock with me when outside and celebrating freedom. Now? Yeah, now I have three different sunblock choices on me at all times, just in case one is lost or one is forgotten or one isn't doing the trick and I need to combine SPF forces.
You Would Rather Buy Sparklers Instead Of Huge (Dangerous) Fireworks
I used to love the huge fireworks that sounded like actual bombs but lit up the sky with brilliant colors. I mean, those are still fun, as long as they're far away from my kid. Now I like sparklers and that boring snake thing that is completely safe and not at all as intimidating or as scary as the big fireworks. Plus, sparklers are cheap. I like cheap.
Convenience Is The Name Of The Game
Before I had a kid, I was all about driving hours to go to a beach or traveling to a specific place or going out of my way to join in on the celebration. Now? Now I opt for the closest festivity because getting my kid out the door means packing a million bags and worrying about a million things and I'm not hauling a bunch of stuff all over the place just to eventually pack it all up and haul it all back. I chose celebrations based on convenience now.
You Don't Care About How Much Fun You Have...
How much fun I have isn't as important as how much fun my kid has. To watch his eyes as he stares at fireworks or plays with a sparkler or runs through a sprinkler is, well, the best damn thing. I get to see the world through his eyes and he is just so happy and mesmerized in those moments and, for me, that is complete enjoyment.
...As Much As You Care About How Much Fun Your Kid Has
When my kid is having fun, it's all worth it.
Slip'N Slides Are Still In Play (Because Some Things Should Never Change)
However, my kid isn't having all the fun. If there's a Slip'N Slide at a particular celebration, you can bet your butt that I will be there. Those will never, ever, get old and the '90s kid in me deserves to celebrate freedom, too.