Sleepless nights and changing toxic diapers are child’s play—here’s the stuff you should really know.
Everyone has seen the “what to expect during parenthood” books and articles, but they never tell the whole story. While raising kids is the most rewarding thing you will ever do in your life, and the love you feel for them is unlike anything else you’ll ever know, there are a few pitfalls nobody ever tells you about. Read on, if you dare.
1) The way you view the world changes
When you bring someone into this world, things like global warming, war and women in beer ads have a whole new meaning. You start actually looking at the impact these things have, and what the world will become after you’re dead and gone. Leaving a better place for your kids and grandkids becomes more than just talk.
2) You’ll feel like a failure
There will be times when no matter how hard you try, your kids are never happy. You feel you’re telling them “no” too much, constantly harping on them to clean their room, or dashing their dreams of lowering their brother down the staircase on a rope. While they may complain they don’t have a Wii or that “so and so’s” mom let’s them see PG-13 movies, you need to stick to what you believe in and what you feel is best for your kids.
3) You have no time
This seems obvious, but you can’t believe just how little time you have. You start to measure things out in minutes and seconds. “If he watches Curious George for 20 more seconds, I can go to the bathroom,” or “If his nap lasts another 10 minutes, maybe I can get in a shower today.”
4) Not going to the bathroom by yourself
When your kids are babies, the bathroom is the only place you can get your head together. It’s also one of the only places you can actually read. I read ESPN’s Bill Simmons’ entire book over the course of the week in the bathroom when my youngest was a baby. And then he turned two. If he’s not forcing his way in to watch “how it’s really done” he’s banging on the door screaming “lemme in!” or sliding all his books underneath. There is no peace with toddlers.
5) Parenthood will turn you soft
This one hits the guys especially hard. You’ll find yourself tearing up at any dumb movie that has anything to do with parenthood, and if you have a daughter, don’t be surprised to find yourself playing “My Little Pony” before heading off to work. The icing on the cake is hawking Girl Scout cookies in front of your local grocery store annually.
6) They will embarrass youThis is a big shock, and you’re never ready for it. In your mind, they are perfect little angels; in reality, they’re little people trying to figure out their way in the world. Unfortunately, they say what they want—when they want. It can be something that’s funny like announcing to their pre-school class that Daddy farts all the time, or it can be humiliating like a temper tantrum in a grocery store or having them tell your parents to “get me a toy next time” after opening a gift containing pajamas. You’re prepared for the fact that you’ll embarrass them when they get to a certain age, but you’re never ready to be the one that’s humiliated.
This is the one that stings from the day your child is born until the day you die. From the start you worry that they’ll stop breathing in their crib, then you obsess about getting the damn car seat in correctly. They get a little older and you worry about them falling down the stairs or choking on a Polly Pocket. As the years go on you lose sleep about dating, not fitting in, or getting into a situation that they can’t handle. Then there are the worries that never go away: providing enough, paying for college or not teaching them the right things. The list goes on and on and on, and it takes a major toll on you. But you worry because you love.
8) You won’t be the parent you think
We all had visions of the kind of parents we would be to our kids. Now, as battle tested Moms and Dads, we’ve heard the prospective parents spouting off advice. Those hollow words of wisdom come even though they’ve never gotten up at three a.m. to do a load of laundry with more vomit on it than a frat house floor. Nor have they tried to cook dinner with a screaming baby in their arms, a toddler doing cartwheels off the couch, and the phone ringing. It usually goes something like this: “I’d never let my kids watch TV before they turn three,” or “I would never raise my voice at my child,” or “My toddler won’t ever eat sweets.” Uh huh, and I said I’d never own a minivan. You have this great picture of the kind of parent you want to be, and how picturesque your family will become. You try to live up to that vision, but you also have to survive. So, snickering at a prospective parent spouting off advice is not only allowed, but encouraged.
Let’s start with pin worms. They are small parasitic worms that live in the human intestinal track. The worms crawl out of the child’s anus at night and lay their eggs in the diaper, pajamas and other areas around the bed or crib. The eggs are then passed to others and ingested unknowingly. The worst part? You have to go in there and grab them while your kid is asleep. It’s a damn horror show. It’s also not something I had any idea about before having kids. Sick kids take a toll on the entire house. Even the typical cold has taken on a whole new meaning, especially with toddlers. It can require being up in the middle of the night for days in a row, missing work and acting as one giant Kleenex. The numerous slug trails across your shirt are always a nice touch.
10) The feeling of unconditional love
You assume that you’re going to love your kids, but what you end up feeling for them is unlike anything else you’ll ever know. Just a simple smile from your offspring can erase a really crappy day at the office. This is the reason why people rave about having kids while they look exhausted and have a fresh batch of spit-up running down their back.
Craig Playstead is a freelance writer, husband and father of three living in the suburbs of Seattle. In the past he's also been a sports writer, a game writer and a talk show host. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.