A sentimental journey to the land of BF
By Nury Vittachi
You know the terms BC and AD? Well, I would like to propose that new terms are introduced for a similarly dramatic historical event—but which only applies to people who have had children: B.F. and A.F.: Before Family and After Family.
Somewhere in my personal journey, I acquired a spouse and some children: and everything changed: my habits, my values, my way of life, and—most dramatic of all—the acreage of bags under my eyes.
Before Family: A lie-in is when you stay in bed until noon
After Family: A lie-in is when you stay in bed until seven am
Before Family: A “short-break getaway” is a long weekend in a sun-soaked Thai resort.
After Family: A “short-break getaway” is five minutes in the only toilet in the apartment with a still-working lock.
Before Family: Gastronomic ecstasy means sampling recipes in the new Nigella Lawson cookbook.
After Family: Gastronomic ecstasy is when you manage to persuade a child to consume a piece of broccoli.
Before Family: The perfect floor covering is imported hardwood maple planking in a satin-wax finish.
After Family: The perfect floor covering is pink and blue squares of textured rubber.
Before Family: The ideal wardrobe is a range of elegant black outfits from Armani or Zara.
After Family: The ideal wardrobe is a range of factory outlet rejects that you can throw away after they acquire too many vomit stains.
Before Family: The pinnacle of cinematic entertainment is Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut.
After Family: The pinnacle of cinematic entertainment is The Lion King, which actually moves you to tears.
Before Family: The best summer vacation destination is an unspoiled tract of coastal wilderness far from civilization.
After Family: The best summer vacation destination is anywhere which has sterilized water, french fries and Pampers, oh, and a McDonald’s and a Starbucks, and—blow it, let’s just stay at home.
Before Family: You thought you needed space, time and peace to work.
After Family: You discover you can type perfectly well with one child on your lap, another wrapped around your leg, and the third watching Barney videos at full volume one and a half metres away.
Before Family: You thought the finest furniture was Philippe Starke designs in minimalist industrial chrome and leather.
After Family: You know the finest furniture is a big ugly sofa that can absorb orange juice, urine and milk, and double as a scratching board for the cat.
Before Family: You thought your dream car would be a hand-built Morgan Aero 8 convertible.
After Family: You realize your dream car is a second-hand Toyota Previa with washable plastic seats.
Before family: You thought the soundtrack of your life would be dreamy, experimental pop from an indie band like The High Lamas.
After Family: You realize that the soundtrack of your life is High School Musical 50 times a day.
Before Family: You thought recyclable and reusable packaging was the unshakeable wave of the future.
After Family: You wonder how anyone could survive without bulk purchases of disposable 250 ml tetra-pak fruit juice boxes.
When you consider all the changes to your lifestyle, it’s hard to avoid thinking that acquiring a family is seriously bad news.
But the interesting thing is that people who’ve been through this are adamant about one thing.
We wouldn’t have it any other way.