Just a few words that have completely changed meaning for me since having children:
Early. Before having children, anything before 8 AM was considered too early; after kids, 4:30 AM is early but anything after 5 AM is an acceptable time of day.
No. Before kids, when you told someone “no” they understood that it was a negative and final response to a question; after kids, when you say “no” it apparently means, “not right now…but keep asking and asking and asking in attempt to wear me down until I finally give in out of sheer desperation to stop the screaming and cold, judgemental stares from passers by.”
Sick. Before kids, this meant a day home from work to watch daytime television and pig out on chinese food while basking in the sympathetic looks from the girl at Walgreens checkout as you pay for your cough and cold meds; after kids, it don’t mean s#*t because there’s no one home to coddle you and kids don’t care if you’ve got a head cold or Bubonic plague, they just want the dang PB&J you said you’d make 3 minutes ago.
Pedophile. Before kids, it’s a sick but “sad” disease where you think, “oh, you know that most pedophiles were victims and it’s a vicious cycle that needs to be addressed with intense behavioral modification therapy and pharmaceuticals.” After kids, just the first syllable sends a fire up the back of your neck and the word “sad” and “rehabilition” are no longer associated with the monster that preys on and hurts a child…the only words that come to mind are castration, vigilantism and hitman.
Television. Before kids, watching tv was something to do for fun and usually a stress reliever at the end of a tough day; after kids, tv means a power struggle over which show, how much and when it’s acceptable(i.e. while I’m doing laundry) and when it’s not (i.e. while eating dinner).
Partying. Before kids, this meant 9 PM dinners, invigorating and passionate conversations about art and politics, bars, clubs, excessive drinking, getting home and passing out to that awesome, and all too familiar, spinning room; after children, it means weeks of careful planning just to go to a 6:30 PM dinner(you COULD go at 5:30 but the savings you’ll incur at the Early Bird Special cannot outweigh the self loathing and embarassment incurred at the fact that you even seriously considered eating at 5:30), conversations that revolve around potty training and mucus, not drinking too much(because you have to be up at 5 AM), home by 9 and asleep by 10(because you have to be up at 5 AM).
College. Before kids this was a place to find yourself and make lifelong friends and the biggest stress was that 25 page Philosophy paper you had 3 MONTHS to write but chose to wait and be inspired 6 hours before it’s due; after kids, college is a place you’d give your right arm to go back to just for a week.
News. Before kids, this was an informative medium to learn about what’s going on in the world while you silently shake your head at the poor people who’ve got it worse than you; after kids, every story about terrorists’ terrifies you and every child in pain is YOUR child so you elevate to a whole new level of anxiety. The world is a scarrier place after having children.