You can never be fully prepared for the parenthood experience, but there are certain things I never thought to expect. These 10 things sit outside the realm of sleep depravation and diapers.
- Children cannot be trusted. “Don’t let them out of your sight” is basically the tagline of parenthood, and not because there is danger lurking in every corner (there is though, so don’t consider relaxing). Just yesterday I left my daughter fully immersed in the land of TV to run upstairs for a change of clothes. When I returned no more than 150 seconds later, she had opened a vat of Vaseline and was rubbing it all over her arms. You cannot even blink during an art project or every valuable thing you own will be a victim of their poor motor skills and horrible artistic vision.
Vaseline brings me to my next point…
- People are generous in the worst ways. As a rule I think we should practice gratitude, it makes us better people when we’re thankful for our blessins. But now I have a child and my house is full of crap and I don’t have any room left in my life for gratitude, because I constantly have to be annoyed that someone thought it’d be a good idea to give me something that only serves to make my life more difficult. The thought doesn’t count here Janet. I don’t want a jar of Vaseline, a box of Zebra cakes, or a toy dripping in BPA.
- You probably need a new car. Something safe, potentially an SUV or minivan (just accept it. You’ve created this life and the need for a living-room on wheels). And once you get your beautiful new automobile, kiss Kelly Blue Book value goodbye, because your child is expert level at 2 things: being adorable, and ruining nice things.
- Think unstylish and practical. This is your new life. I tried to go to a wedding once wearing this really cute dress that didn’t scream “breastfeeding my kid so all I can wear is this potato sack in navy jersey knit, with *adorable* wrap style detail.” I ended up completely naked in a bathroom stall nursing my daughter. Now I know that they don’t make jeans high-waisted enough to conceal my butt crack during library storytime. Your shirt can never be long enough. So. Much. Bending. Over. Post baby boobs take on this sludge like consistency; they fall out of even the most tasteful neckline.
- Familiarize yourself with worst-case scenarios. I didn’t used to spend all my free time thinking about death and despair, but I’m a parent now so… if my mind is wandering, it’s to panic and disaster. Do you know what I think of when I see a ball pit? HIV infected needles being strategically tucked away. It takes me 3 minutes to change lanes on the highway, because I cannot stop envisioning missing the semi in my blind spot and fiery explosions. My favorite hobby is sending really tragic news stories to my husband and saying, “Can you imagine?” or “Please up our life insurance.”
- Handwashing everything. Is this the Oregon Trail? Why are my hands always scrubbing something in a washbasin? I don’t even want to discuss the labor that goes into dismantling, cleaning, and drying sippy cups, water bottles, and plastic bowls with Disney characters. I would change diapers into middle school if it meant I never had to have a drying rack on my counter again. If you think you can skip scrubbing that plastic straw that has only been used with water, you have never been more wrong. Your kid is slurping mold, champ.
- Censorship. You cannot say or listen to whatever you want. Your child might not pick up on the ABC’s that you’ve been tirelessly working on, but they will absolutely go full parrot if you casually say the word scrotum within 30 yards of them. While the rest of the world is rejoicing when Kendrick Lamar comes on the radio, I’m frantically changing the station. I hope these sacrifices won’t go unnoticed.
- Living outside your comfort zone. Being a parent means doing really cool things in a public setting, like the hokey pokey. Song and dance with 20 strangers is kind of what years 1 through 4 are. I wasn’t prepared for all of this small talk and smiling with strangers. But here I am guys, making conversation with other parents when I’d rather wear my sunglasses inside and listen to Kendrick on my headphones. But you compromise for the good of your child.
- Making “memories.” You do things that your kids won’t remember, are expensive, and a ton of work. I started taking my kid to the Zoo before her eyes could focus. Mostly for my own sanity. I’d pack up 56 lbs of butt cream, diapers, and Puffs and venture out into the world. I’d point out Wallabies and commend myself for providing my child with such enriching experiences. Baby’s first trip to the Corn Maze, ok? I will absolutely spend 20 bucks if it means gaining entrance into some completely age inappropriate activity that will make me forget that I’ve been in my house for 3 days.
- Mostly great parenting decisions. You know what happens all the time? Bribes and threats. This job is 24/7 – 365. I take huge liberties when it comes to interpreting what makes good humans. I am patient, and understanding, and I also don’t leave my house without a candy bar because children are completely irrational and sometimes you do have to negotiate with terrorists. Don’t be a martyr.
Scarlett is a stay at home-ish mom, bartender, and wife. You can follow her on Instagram.