This post is inspired by a young couple at our church who just birthed the most beautiful baby in the history of humankind. Apparently they heard that all babies are beautiful and they just went ahead and popped out a baby who was beautiful already. What they should have been told is that all babies become beautiful over their first few days or weeks, but they’re actually born kind of squidgy-looking. Because of that incomplete information, this lovely couple from church has already gotten it wrong. Such a shame.
There is hope, though. I’m here to enlighten them (and you) on the underlying truths of what parenting is really like.
You may have heard that parenting is exhausting. And you may assume that refers to babies waking up frequently through the night. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.
- Toddlers wet the bed. (Word of advice: keep a sleeping bag in your linen closet, even if you store the rest of your camping gear in the basement. You can have that kid back in bed in two minutes if you don’t have to wrangle with fitted sheets at three in the morning.)
- Kids pick their nose – and when they wake up with blood on their face and hands and pillow case, they may scream like something has just been amputated. (Word of advice: you don’t have to scrub the pillow case right then and there. Throw it in the corner until the sun comes up and then just pour some hydrogen peroxide on it and let it soak for a bit.)
- Teenagers who join sports teams will have practices at unreasonable times, like 7 in the morning. And you will have to drive them there. And they get snarky if you’re still wearing your fluffy bathrobe. (Word of advice: don’t let your kids join sports teams.)
- Those same teenagers also like to participate in social activities that keep them out until other unreasonable times, like 10 at night. And you will have to pick them up. And they get snarky if you’re wearing your fluffy bathrobe. (Word of advice: if your teenagers know that you’re going to be wearing your fluffy bathrobe when you pick them up, they will be ready and waiting at the door of said social activity when you pull up. You won’t have to go in looking for them. Rather, you won’t have to do it twice.)
- Throughout your parenting career, you will have multiple opportunities to stay up late into the night making 28 cupcakes decorated like cornucopias for a grade one class, and Medieval-style bread for a history project, and a traditional Spanish dessert for grade nine international food day – all because your children will forget to mention these dire necessities until bedtime the night before they are due.
You may have heard that your body will never be the same after birthing a baby. And you may assume that you will have stretch marks and your hips will be wider. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.
- Your hair will change. Whether you cut it all short because your baby keeps pulling it, or you grow it long so you can always have it in a ponytail, you will almost never have time to make it cute. And on those rare occasions when you have 60 extra seconds to blow dry, your work will promptly be undone by someone’s boogers, banana mush, or vomit.
- Remember that gorgeous, red dress that you wore to all your friends’ weddings before you had kids? And you kept it after you had kids because it has a bit of a flare at the waist so it would still camouflage those widened hips? You may eventually lose all the baby weight and go put that dress on and then you will discover that your hips weren’t the only thing that widened to accommodate babies. Rib cages widen. Whatever your go-to naughty words are when you have an infuriating shock, you will use them when you see that weird extra bulge between bust and belly. Nobody wants a weird extra bulge there. Stupid red dress.
You may have heard about ‘baby brain’. And you may assume that this refers to putting the milk away in the cupboard and putting the cereal away in the fridge. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.
- At some point, many years from now, you will be in the middle of writing a parenting blog and during your potty break you will have a brilliant idea for your next point but by the time you get all the way back to your computer, you will have forgotten it so completely that you will stare open-mouthed at the ceiling for several minutes wondering if aliens invaded your body and cleared your brain’s browser history. And then you will wonder if it wasn’t aliens, but actually Kathy Griffin. And then you will wonder if Kathy Griffin is an alien herself. But all of that is hypothetical. What was I talking about?
You may have heard that kids say the darnedest things. And you may assume that kids say those things in private or when they are young and cute. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.
- There will come a day, I promise you, when you are at the mall or the grocery store and your sweet cherub makes a very loud and incredibly inappropriate comment about someone’s weight. If that someone is you instead of the stranger ahead of you in the check-out line, believe me: you are blessed among mothers.
- You may one day tell your teenaged daughter that you have entered a contest to win a free smile make-over from the local orthodontist office. And for the briefest of seconds, her incredulous “Why?!?!” will make her your favourite child. And then more words will come out of her face: “But you’re almost forty!”
You may have heard that parenting is hard. You may assume that refers to getting your picky eater to eat peas that have touched mashed potatoes. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.
- No matter how prepared and open and honest you are with your kids, at least one of them will ask you a sex question that makes you gasp and choke on your own spit. And they’ll probably ask you in front of your in-laws or your pastor.
- You will find yourself wondering about the legality of things that have never before crossed your mind, such as “Will I be arrested for helping my kids film a French horror movie in a cemetery?”
- You will use your go-to naughty words again because your kids will develop uniquely bizarre habits like not screwing the salad dressing lid on all the way.
You may have heard about how fiercely you will love your kids. You may assume that refers to wanting to watch them sleep and being hurt when they stop kissing you in front of their friends. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.
You’ll have to discover that whole truth for yourself. Because I can blab on and on about some topics, but how much you’ll love your kids – that’s one I just can’t put into words.