I was catching up on blogs tonight, and realized that I read an awful lot of women who are pregnant/adopting/expecting in some way. There’s something about the anticipatory joy of motherhood (fine; parenthood, but I’m reading women, here). I find it very compelling; partially because that stage of life is behind me, and partially because there is nothing quite like the empty canvas that is the dream of raising a child.
When you’re expecting, you picture the wonderful ways in which your life will change and your child will cause your heart to swell every moment of every day. Then, too, people insist on telling you about the downside–the dirty diapers, the colic, the toys strewn across the floor. No matter, you tell yourself! It’s all part of the package; everyone knows that. And it is.
But there are some things for which nothing can prepare you.
I wish someone had explained to me how having children would touch parts of my life in ways I’d not even been able to comprehend. That whole heart-swelling thing? It’s true. My heart swells almost constantly. About 73% of the time it’s from an impending coronary, though.
I was ready for dirty diapers. I was ready for toys all over the place. I was ready for play-doh stuck in the carpet. I was ready for lots of things. But there was so much more that I wasn’t ready for and none of the books ever covered. This leads me to believe that either there is a mass conspiracy going on, or my kids are just mutants. Either way. Look, I just don’t want women in the dark anymore. There are things prospective mothers NEED to know!
These are but a few of the oft-overlooked ramifications of parenthood.
Say good-bye to your pens and pencils. I know. Pens and pencils are mighty useful things. I’m quite attached to mine, myself. But now that I have kids? Writing implements are but a bittersweet memory. Rollerball finepoint, I barely knew ye! Don’t ask me where they go. Don’t ask them where they go. They just go. And yes, there can be twelve tons of arts supplies sitting RIGHT THERE and it doesn’t matter one whit. The little girl with 287 colored pencils wants YOUR PEN and she will HAVE your pen and then it will vanish with an audible *POP* into thin air. Repeat until you find yourself writing notes to school in blue crayon.
It becomes very difficult to read “in your mind.” You see, you spend so much time reading aloud, that when you try to read to yourself, one of the kids will ask if you’re reading “in your mind,” and that will strike you as being pretty amusing, and then you will never again be able to just read a book without thinking “I’m reading IN MY MIND!” and snorting just a little bit. It’s rather distracting. At least, it is if “in your mind” is kind of short-attention-span place to begin with. Not that I would… hey! Something shiny!
You will develop bionic hearing. We can rebuild him… make him stronger… faster… better than before! What? Oops, sorry. Yeah. Um, there’s no cool slow-mo sound effect to go with it, but parenthood sharpens your ears. Of course you knew you would treasure the moment your child presents a handmade craft, beaming with pride. You probably don’t know that you will also treasure the moment when you ask the child who just emerged from the bathroom if she washed her hands, and she says yes, and you say, “No you didn’t. Go wash them,” and her face falls. Try to use your newfound powers for good.
The accumulated dirt in your house develops a magnetic pull. Sure, kids running in and out creates a mess. You knew that. And a little dirt is no big deal. But once the dirt gets in, it’s a free-for-all. The next thing you know, your washing machine is full of acorn caps. Then the pinecones start showing up everywhere. Before you can clear all of that out, you’re tripping over rocks in your own kitchen. Don’t waste time trying to figure it out, just for the love of God get a handle on things before you find an entire oak in the bathroom!
Every scrap is sacred. Don’t throw ANYTHING away! Hahahahaha. Gotcha. Of course you have to throw stuff away. But don’t go letting anyone under the age of ten actually witness this. Your trash is their treasure. Your need for order is their stunted creativity. To put it simply: Your time to clean up is after they’re in bed. It’s just easier that way. Should a casualty of your mission become a hotly lamented item, remember the three Ds: Distract, Deny, Drink.
UPDATE: The mystery of the toilet paper. I can’t believe I forgot this one, this morning, and it’s been haunting me since I remembered. You knew there would never be toilet paper, right? But you what you don’t expect is the irony in the complete absence of toilet paper while surrounded by toilet paper TUBES (which are, of course, telescopes, and casts for injured stuffed animals, and a million other things). No one knows how to change the roll, but damn if they aren’t mighty handy with fishing those tubes out of the trash no matter how deeply you bury them.
What else do prospective moms need to know that no one else will tell them?