Monday, June 20, 2011

A Few Things No One Told Me About Parenting

I had no idea what I was getting into. And nothing came close to really preparing me for becoming a parent. I read a lot of books and (almost) without exception, they were equal parts scary and not helpful. Truthfully, I wanted to be a mom so badly that no matter what anyone told me, I still would have done it. Here are a few not-so-Anne-Landersy tidbits I never heard and sort of wish I had.

Congratulations! Your life is now over. No one wants to hear this but it’s true. You’re probably not going to be the same person. Your life is all new. Some things that you liked doing will no longer be possible for you to enjoy. But don’t be sad. For some people, this is a good thing. For example, Redbull and vodka in the morning is probably not a great idea while breastfeeding.

On a personal note, I actually became much less of an a-hole when my first baby was born. At first, the adjustment was difficult and a little painful. But slowly, it became clear that this was a positive change. It was sort of like being released from selfish prison. Or being the protagonist in an after-school special where everyone learns a lesson about not being a dick all the time and actually thinking about other people.

Unless you are a supermodel, your body is not going to be the same. It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to still rock a bikini – but friend, it is what it is. You can’t pretend what happened didn’t just happen. And depending on how you had your baby (c-section or via Chunnel), you’re going to have different sets of surprises to deal with. I would get into specifics, but I just ate lunch. 

Take heart! Results may vary. Kate has three kids and wears tight jeans that are white and looks amazing. But she may be a witch. We don’t know yet – we’re still waiting for lab results. Many of us look a little more well-nourished than we did pre-offspring. And that’s ok. We’re working on it, and we’re still sexy as a candy panda, just like before we had kids. Only in slightly bigger pants and wider shoes.

No matter how much you love being a parent, you’re not going to enjoy every minute of this gig. There are a million different ways to have a bad day as a parent. And honestly, I didn’t even know what a bad day felt like until I had one where something went very wrong with one of my kids. And in addition to the suckage of having a craptastic day, you have the added sensation of being shivved in the kidney by maternal guilt because all you really want is an early bedtime so you can melt into the couch for a few hours.  No matter how crazy in love you are with your kidlets, you may occasionally feel like you want to run screaming for the exits.*  It doesn't make you a bad person or a bad parent, it makes you normal. 

*Just don't actually do it. Or if you do, come right back.

You will find yourself losing your Schmidt. Even if you are the calmest, most yoga-doing, centered person in the tri-state area – even if you are the Gandhi of mommies – you will find yourself standing in your kitchen, covered with spit-up or yellow poo, slamming things and shrieking at your husband/partner/boyfriend (or, heaven forbid, all three of them) like a crazy person.

You may have never uttered a cross word to each other before, but trust me – there will come a moment when there is a baby non-stop crying and you not sleeping and there’s nothing for dinner and someone came home late and you will hear, "what do you mean you forgot to pay Verizon this month?!" And you will want to make sure you can’t get your hands on any sharp objects. The good news is you now know this moment is coming. Once it passes you and your beloved baby-daddy can look at each other and say: “Oh. Wow. We just had that fight. Let’s drink a beer and then attempt some delightful post-baby intercourse.”  Assuming, of course, that this fight occurred after the doctor-prescribed waiting period for the nether parts. 

People are going to say stupid sh*t. I am constantly amazed at the things people think it’s OK to say. And this is coming from me -- someone who says all kinds of stupid stuff daily. Maybe these folks don’t know that what they’re saying is assholic. Maybe they don’t care. Here’s what we suggest – when someone says something like: “You should snatch that pacifier right out of her mouth. Here, let me do it for you. Wait, I’ll just wipe my hands off first – I was cutting up some raw chicken.” Just walk away. Don’t give in to the perfectly normal urge to kickpunch or teach your children new four letter words. Just smile and nod and back away as fast as you can. Meanwhile scream the following at them but only with your eyes: “YOU ARE F*CKING MOONBAT, SPITTING CHERRY PITS CRAZY AND YOU MAY NOT TOUCH MY BABY, SALMONELLA HANDS!”

The Blur is real. You know what The Blur is? It’s like that feeling you used to have the day after a really bad hangover. When everything seemed a little fuzzy and you couldn’t remember where you left your panties keys. The feeling of being inside The Blur is a lot like that, except its more intense and it lasts for about 15 years.

It’s kind of scary. I now live in a world where I have something to lose. Pre-kids, I usually put my own needs at the top of my to-do list and was vapid enough to think that nothing really bad could ever happen to me. But right after I became a mom, I had this horrible epiphany - bad things can happen. Danger is real. I am all that is keeping something dreadful from happening to this tiny, little, precious critter. Holy crap. Were cars always this dangerous? Did they always go in reverse? How are we supposed to get home from the hospital in a way that is 100% safe from collision? Wait. Were there always sex offenders everywhere? There’s what in the milk at the store?  And my apples are coated with what?  GAHHHH!!!

It all sort of boils down to one truth, which is of course the one thing that everyone does tell you: You will love your kids so much that you’ll do anything for them.  So even if it drives you slightly moon-batty in the process, you'll find yourself a deeply-changed, usually much improved person. Clarification - a better person surrounded by cuteness that will never learn to clean its room. 

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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