Post written by Sherri Kruger. Follow me on Twitter.
The joys of parenthood: the cuddles, the coos and the I love you’s. Watching your little one grow and learn and meet significant milestones like walking, talking, running, reading, singing and dancing.
Kids are fun and parenting is so rewarding there’s no doubt about it.
But I’m sure you’ve heard all of this before.
I know before I had kids this is what I thought everyday was going to be filled with. Of course I thought there would be the occasional temper tantrum but surely that would quickly pass and we would be back to coloring and playing with cars. Well … not quite.
Here are a few things I’ve run into that no one told me about before I had my kids. To those of you who have kids – I hope I’m not alone and to those of you with no kids just yet – you’re welcome. :)
1. The poop factor. People tell you about it and you know it’s coming but you have no real appreciation for the sheer quantity or frequency with which these little machines can manufacture the stuff. It’s amazing. There were times with our little ones when we just put on a fresh diaper; we left the room only to have the smell “follow” us out. Turns out it’s not the smell that was following us … we were carrying the smell. When you find yourself saying: “No! It can’t be. I just changed him.” rest assured it can be.
2. There is no such thing as being cool. No matter how cool you think you are or how cool you were in high school, when you become a parent that all goes out the window. You will find you will do anything to make your crying baby stop when you’re in line at the grocery store. You’ll sing ABC’s, twinkle-twinkle little star, or old MacDonald in front of a crowd of strangers. You’ll snort like a pig, give raspberries, and speak in a really strange voice. Sometimes it’s fun and you can really get into it, other times it’s just downright embarrassing.
3. You will wonder if you’re a short order cook. In the first few years of parenthood so much of your time is spent in the kitchen it’s ridiculous. There’s cleaning bottles, sippy-cups, spoons, bowls, plates, and bibs. There’s preparing breakfast, midmorning snacks, lunch, mid-afternoon snacks, dinner, and bedtime snacks. Top all of this off with cleaning everything as you go throughout your day,and your kitchen can feel like home base for the first few years.
4. Sleep is for wussies. For every poop story you encounter there will likely be one warning you of the scarcity of sleep. I remember the first night our first son was here, that was a wakeup call. He was finally quiet for a 2 hour period and my husband and I both woke up, looked at each other and commented on how great it felt to get 2 hours of solid sleep. It was that night that we really got what it meant to be sleep deprived.
5. Oh more unsolicited advice please! It seems as soon as you know you’re going to be a parent everyone is a parenting expert. From what to eat to avoid morning sickness, to the amount of exercise you should be doing. From what the only type of diapers to use are to when babies should nap and how long they should be held. Oh yes the advice is plentiful.
6. You will wonder why you ever wanted them to learn to speak. I’m just coming upon this one now. I used to say oh it’ll be so nice when they learn to speak and they can actually tell us what they want. Yeah that part of it is nice. Having the same word barked at you 40 times in a row … now I finally understand a little plaque my mom had hanging in her kitchen that said: “Raising kids is like being pecked to death by chicks”.
7. You will experience frustration like never before. I had an idea in my head of the kind of parent I would be: laid back, kind, gentle, never raise my voice and perhaps even change my middle name to patience. Riiiight. Try unpacking a dishwasher of clean dishes only to have one child with peanut butter fingers grabbing at every dish as it is removed while the other one is shoving random toys down the heat vent. “Can’t I just finish one thing?” I found myself asking. Nope and likely not for several years.
8. You would do it all over again if given the option. Despite all the stuff nobody tells you about parenthood, when you come to discover all these things for yourself you would do it all over again if you were given the option. With respect to all the points I mentioned above here’s what I’ve learned.
Poop: The poop factor loses its initial effect and becomes but a minor inconvenience. What once made you gag is now suddenly not that bad.
On being cool: It’s not that you’re not cool anymore it’s that the definition has changed. In my opinion there is nothing cooler than a mom or dad who will do anything to see their kids smile or to make them laugh.
Living in the kitchen: It’s fun to be the one to introduce new foods, flavors and textures to your child’s diet. Take the opportunity to get creative have fun feeding your family new, exciting dishes.
Sleep: My thoughts on the sleep deprivation thing: it’s hard in the beginning, you eventually get used to sleeping in 2-3 hour bursts and if you’re lucky your little ones will “all of a sudden” just start sleeping through the night and you’ll wonder what all the fuss was ever about. Heed this warning – I urge you to cherish every bleary eyed mid-night diaper change and feed as they are but a tiny portion of this parenting journey but just so special. Just as the kids start sleeping through the night those dark, quiet cuddles come to an end. Soak it all in.
Unsolicited advice: While yes it can become quite annoying, remember people’s intentions are usually good. Most people really do want to help and believe it or not some people actually do know what they’re talking about.
On our kids learning to speak: It’s really quite amazing how one day the coos and flurries of random noises turn into actual words. It’s only when you’re bombarded by the same word 40 times in 60 seconds that you ask yourself: “Why did I ever wish for them to speak?” Cherish this time as well as they master the language. Take time to document some of what they say because kids do say the darnedest things and you will soon forget.
Frustration: You will get frustrated, lose your cool and perhaps even raise your voice. You’ll feel horrible, out of control and like the worst parent on the planet. In other words, you’ll be completely normal. Kids are kids there’s really no other way to describe it. All of what frustrates us about them is also what we envy the most: spontaneity, curiosity, fearlessness, and candor.
Having kids is my biggest and best accomplishment yet. It is all the wonderful things everyone has to say about it and so much more. If I had my life to live over I would choose to do everything exactly the same because it’s all brought me to where I am now. Is it always a barrel of laughs? No, not in the least. But all the frustration, sleep deprivation, unsolicited advice from strangers, hours spent in the kitchen, and being up to my elbows in poop is more than made up for by every smile, high-five, giggle, spontaneous dance move, and hug I ever get.