The internet is pretty clear that spawning miniature humans comes with sacrifice. You give up free time, autonomy, and the ability to pee by yourself. Some folks find their career ambitions tossed aside for the sake of their brood.
I knew all that going in. I was willing to make those sacrifices. It was in me to give up some things for my kids. Many things. While it’s not for everyone, and this is absolutely no shade to the child-free crowd, parenting is excellent, like 65% of the time. It’s rewarding in unexpected ways, soul-filling if you know where to tap into the flow, and incomparable to any other version of love, in my experience.
Okay, feel-good fluff out of the way; I’m twelve years deep into this -ish, and there are some things my parenting elders neglected to share. Parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Every kid is different, every environment alters, blah blah blah. Yeah, okay, fine. But there are some things you people could have warned me about beforehand.
For instance, you could have told me I’d never be able to have a snack again. Either my toddlers follow me around like starvation victims until I cave and share, or my teenager steals the good food before I get so much as a whiff.
I bought the food. In many cases, I made the damn food. Why can I not eat the food in peace? I thought the “hiding in the pantry” cliche was hyperbole. It’s my truth now. (Except we don’t have a pantry, so I have to hide in the bathtub. If I just stand in the bathroom, they see my feet while peering under the crack of the door. Creepy little banshees.)
- All of you boy moms, please explain yourselves. You might have mentioned my toddler son would routinely and at every opportunity attempt to rip his own boy baby-junk off. To be fair, you mentioned that boys are attracted to their equipment early. I’ll give you that. You didn’t mention that “attracted to” means the same as “will gleefully castrate himself during diaper changes.”
And while we’re on the topic, you are going to need to use clear, concise language. ‘Toddlers fall over a lot’ is not enough information. Toddlers will violently bounce off walls like a pinball, faceplant on the floor, and somersault over the tiniest elevation change. I’ve come to believe that they live with a concussion. That probably contributes to all the falling over. It’s a vicious cycle, really.
One more complaint from our “the devil’s in the details category,” I get that talking about poop is gross. But we are parents. We talk about poop all the time. Could no one have mentioned that tiny humans are capable of chemical warfare? Sweet merciful Osiris, the gasses that seep out of my youngest daughter’s butt are referenced by the Geneva Accords.
Saying babies poop a lot is insufficient. Babies poop often; that much is made clear. But the amount of poop one tiny human child can produce in one go is astonishing. No one bothered to mention that one eight-pound child could expel enough waste at once to not only fill a diaper but creep up their back all the way to their hairline. It was in her armpits! Diaper blowouts were spoken of in passing. Next time, include talk of diaper poop-ocalypses.
On that note, if theoretical physicists run out of stars to stare at, they can resume their puzzling by examining the digestive tracts of both toddlers and teenagers. Their stomachs manage to exist in two states simultaneously- both empty and full. Schroedinger clearly didn’t have kids as he resorted to cats in a box.
Both toddlers and teenagers will beg for food and then emphatically reject all varieties offered. They hate every food ever and somehow never stop eating. I see why this information was never offered up. There’s no way to explain it that will make sense to a non-parent.
Also, the following lesson will not make sense to a non-parent either. Helping from any tiny human is not actually helpful. A toddler assisting clean looks more like a game of chase, but the kid is armed with a dustpan. A preschooler helping with laundry consists of a constant flow of questions: why is there a Duplo in the dryer, or did you pull this out of the clean clothes pile?
And a teenager helping with anything almost isn’t worth it. Yes, our job as parents is to prepare them for the real world, but come on. It isn’t that hard to spot the sizeable dried-out spaghetti noodle still encrusted on the fork they put back in the drawer.
While we’re on about teenagers, I do appreciate that most of my kid-having peers and fore-parents have held their tongue about my most annoying habits. I’m watching with sometimes abject horror as some of my worst character traits are on full display through my teenager. My attitude, sarcasm, and moral failings fall out of my teen daughter’s face hole with alarming regularity.
Okay, scrolling back through, I get why the parents that came before me never warned about most of this. Half this bullshit sounds made up if a) you do not yet (or will not ever) have kids b) you think owning a dog is the same as having kids or c) you have kids, but you still count their age in months. Having put words to the page, the dichotomy is apparent now. I would never have understood.
Chances are if you’ve read all the way down here and are nodding emphatically, it’s because you’ve been there, done that, and you would have the t-shirt but it’s was lost to the laundry pile ages ago. So I suppose, thanks for the solidarity. Now, if you could just reassure me that they do grow up, get helpful, and ooze less bodily fluids on my wardrobe, that would be nice. Lie if you have to.