This week this issue has come up in two ways in my conversations with friends, one in terms of accepting that parenting young kids basically means you should be doing something with any free time you have left, and that thing should probably not be relaxing and lounging around. It can be on occasion on the weekend, but not usually. That is a pretty tough pill to swallow. And in fact, kids do eventually become more independent and free time returns, but it takes years.
The second way is in accepting that reaching and maintaining an attractive weight means you have to give up food as a comfort. This too is a pretty harsh realization to accept. Of course a person can and still should enjoy food, but toasted almonds can't be a main focus of gratification in a person's life.
While I was in the relentless stage of parenting babies and toddlers, I came to view food as a small source of indulgence and happiness in my otherwise kind of mundane daily life. Not to be too melodramatic, but I had a tough few years for a variety of reasons. I didn't binge eat or eat out of control, but I just ate what I wanted when I wanted all the time - it was one thing that made me happy.
When I finally took dieting seriously, I think I was able to do it because I had experienced such a tough patch when my kids were young. While I never saw it this way at the time, as it turned out those rigorous years made me used to sacrifice, delayed gratification, doing things I didn't want to do and able to look towards larger and longer-term goal. So when the kids got a bit older and my life got easier I was, for lack of a better word, more mature.
So Will Smith is right - save yourself the hand-wringing and just accept the stage you're in. Next time my kids engage in World War III in the car over who looked at whom with what expression I'll make sure to try.