There are so many things you are just not prepared for as a parent. You think you are because you have babysat and been around kids, but let me tell you, you are not. Woefully not. So here is my top twelve list of crazy things you have to deal with as a parent. This could also be Jen’s list of shame – because almost all of these things I judged as a single person. I’d say, “When I have kids, I’m never going to …”. Famous last words.
(Jill – thinking about you made me write this one! We love you and are excited to see you experience all of these things for yourself!)
#1 – The noise. Just get ready. On any given day, one child will be whining, one child will be telling you step by step everything they are doing, the mice from Cinderella will be singing, and the most annoying toy on the planet will say “Let’s learn our letters!” about a thousand times. There are some days that I step outside onto our back porch and just BREATHE in the silence. You’ll just never believe the noise until you experience it.
#2 – The food. From the moment they are born, your life will consist of trying to figure out how to get the right amount of the right food into them. When they are tiny, it is the breast feeding or bottle drama. And let me tell you – it is drama. Counting ounces and watching output. Then they get older and you become a total liar and sneak as you try to get a vegetable into them any way you can think of. “Sure honey – that’s a cheese quesadilla (with tiny pieces of bell pepper and black bean in it). Grace – quit spitting out the vegetables! That’s gross.” You will feed them crackers and/or popcorn, or just a piece of bread and cheese somedays. Your goal is getting something in them – and sometimes you work on that goal all day long. It is crazy.
#3 – The medicine. Oh.my.goodness. They can detect even the smallest of doses in everything. I literally, after 2 days of trying to hide medicine in every kind of juice, chocolate syrup, brownie, yogurt, pudding, and popsickle, called a pharmacy and had it molded into a suppository. And then for weeks Grace wouldn’t let me change her diaper. She’d start crying everytime I went near her. Lovely. I’m sure total strangers and her teachers and sunday school teachers thought all kinds of terrible things.
#4 – The Potty. Oh how single Jen mocks me on this one. I remember clearly saying “The moment my kid can walk I am potty training her. I will never change what is basically a small adult diaper.” Trust me – I am reaping the consequences of this today. My brilliant beautiful girl who could read letters by 18 months and can do anything refuses to do this. Hopefully the kids at school when she’s 11 will be understanding about the Pampers, because that’s where I fear we’re headed. And by the way – the other reason the potty is important is that your kids are drawn to it like a moth to a flame from birth. They will, at some point, sneak in there and play in it. And you’ll be sick with shame. But don’t worry – we’re all there with you on this one.
#5 – The will. There is a moment, and it comes EARLY, when you first see it. You will say something or take something away and they will give you that look. That look that could kill. They will throw themselves on the ground or scream or head-butt you, and you will think “Surely this isn’t a fit already. She’s only 9 months old!” And it begins. Slowly at first, and then it becomes a 6 times a day fight to the death for control. And you can’t give up. You must be consistent and prayerful and patient and loving but above all YOU MUST WIN. You will think, somedays, that you are raising Castro, but I believe, because I have to, that you can break that will (but not that spirit). We must stay at it because we are commanded to, and because it is good for their souls to know they are not the center of the universe, But this one is more daunting, more challenging, and more difficult than I ever would have imagined.
#6 – The repeat. The repeat. The repeat. The repeat. The repeat. If you hear something one time as a parent, you hear it 14,000 times. Just get ready for it. They can’t help it. It is like something in them gets stuck and they start churning on something and they cannot stop. Patience is just not a concept they are born with. They want it, they want it now, and they will ask you about it every 5 seconds until you get it for them or distract them away.
#7 – The mess. I will acknowledge and admit that I have some OCD tendencies. And being a parent is stretching me. Because I can clean my house 7 times a day and my girls can mess it up 8 times a day. Your house will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be the same again. And the area around your child’s high chair is going to be disgusting. (And by the way – they will eat off the floor. Just prepare yourself). You cannot escape the mess. I literally get on my hands and knees with a mini-broom and clean up around my kids’ chairs about 3 times a day, and it just doesn’t help. And our carpet, that was great a year ago, is disgusting. Kids are gross. I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you.
#8 – The doctors. Just get ready, you will spend about a week of your first year in the pediatrician’s office. And you will leave each visit sweaty and exhausted and completely undone. And for each child, add another week. Because visits take FOREVER and there are a ton of them and there is nothing more tiring. So just plan on a week and if you get out with only spending 2 days, consider it a bonus! Go to the beach! And thank you to my friend Joanna for reminding me about another aspect of going to the doc. Your child will never, ever, ever exhibit any symptoms at the doctor. They will be miserably ill at home, running 102+ fever, but will miraculously be perky and perfect the moment you walk in the waiting room. This will make you look like a total alarmist and you will totally get the look from the nurse like “yeah, right.” Don’t worry – we are all alarmists too – we are used to the look. Also – your child will 99% of the time get sick on Friday afternoon, giving you no chance to get to the doctor until Monday, and guaranteeing your family an awful weekend. Sorry, I know it stinks, but these are apparently the rules.
#9 – The nasty. You will have, at one point, spit up, pee, poop, snot, vomit and mashed up food on your person. And there are days where you will have it all over you all day long. Parenting is just gross. But you love them, you try not to gag, and you push through. You really will pick your child up when they have thrown up in bed and are covered. I know you don’t think you can – but you can. And you will. Because that little person covered in nasty is your child and they need you. So you do what it takes.
#10 – The mama bear. I know you think you will be rational about your child. I know you are rational in every other arena of your life. I know you are not a defensive psycho. But you’re now a mom (or dad). And that changes everything. We can try – but we will never be 100% rational about these little people. And the truth is, we are not supposed to be. We are the only people who are intended to defend them and be crazy about them and love them in a goofy way. We are their advocate to the world. So we’ll be a little nutty. We’ll even know we are being a little nutty sometimes, but we still can’t help it. They are our kid, and when they are hurt or slighted or bullied, we want to explode. And sometimes we will explode. That thing will rise up in us and BOOM! It’s all over. But our sweet little people will know they are loved – and that’s all that will matter.
#11 – The sleep. You will never sleep the same again. First of all – the first 3 – 4 months are mindnumbing and insane. Just get ready. The nice thing is you won’t remember it afterwards. But for a while you’ll be so tired that you are on the verge of tears all of the time, just because. And after that – even when you sleep – you sleep lighter. You will be able to hear, from across the house, the sound of them walking when they somehow get the childproof doorknob off their door and they are creeping through the house at 3 am. You will wake up when through the monitor you hear one breathing differently. It is crazy but true.
#12 – The clothes. I used to totally judge the parents of children in diapers, or in food stained clothing. I was sure my children would be dressed cute everyday. I mean look at Target – the baby clothes are adorable! How do these people keep their kids so sloppy when there are so many wonderful choices! Little did I know. In a week there are 168 hours. Of that, my children are dressed about 11 minutes. Either something is spilled, or a diaper leaks, or Bekah is wiggling so much in a diaper change I don’t have the energy to put the pants back on. And Grace, once she got old enough to take off her clothes, became either naked or clothed in a Cinderella dress 23 out of 24 hours in the day. I have drawers and closets full of adorable baby clothes… I promise. Come over and I’ll show you sometime. On the hanger they are precious.
For those of you I just freaked out – so sorry. It is all worth it, and all amazing. But all hilarious too. Laugh your way through it – I promise it helps. And know that just across town my family is experiencing it all with you (if that helps).