You’ve probably heard it all before: all the amazing and wonderful (and condescending) ways you’ll grow when you have a baby. The new light that will shine upon you, brightening your whole world with a new bounty of knowledge and love only known to those who’ve been graced with the title of “mom” or “dad”.
There’s so much wrong with that, I can’t even begin to cover it, but one thing that’s on-point is that you will learn a lot from your little bundle of poop and spit up. It just may not be the ethereal sense of enlightenment you expected. In my (very limited) experience as a parent, these are just a few of the very important things I’ve learned:
- How filthy & disgusting your home is. Nothing highlights this as swiftly as a crawling baby. When you catch your child putting a wad of cat hair, a piece of last night’s dinner, or a chunk of mud in his mouth for the seventh time in one day, you realize that you’re a disgusting slob. You suddenly look around your house, and all the filthy shoes, tissues, food, and other miscellaneous items your oldest child (AKA husband) has left lying around have a radioactive glow. You can zip around like a Tasmanian devil trying to un-filth the house, but there’s really no point, because you know you’re just going to mess it up again in less than an hour.
- A new love and appreciation you never knew was possible… for sleep. I loved sleep before I had a baby. Sleep was my jam. I went to bed early and slept as late as I possibly could in the morning. But I didn’t know you could love sleep like this. I couldn’t have predicted how I would long for just one more minute with my sweet, fluffy pillow, tucked in under my blanket, without a wild mongoose climbing all over me. Actually, I guess I could have predicted it because it’s literally the one thing everyone tells you when you’re about to have a baby, but to experience it is a whole other thing. Sleep is bliss. Sleep is life. Sleep. is. everything.
- Just how long you’re willing to go without a shower. Before I had a baby, I was all high & mighty about my hygiene. I would scoff at the notion of not being able to spare a few minutes for a shower: “You don’t have to wash your hair every day, but there’s always time to at least wash your body so you don’t smell.” HA. I laugh in the face of pre-baby me. The fact is, some days, particularly in the newborn stage, there literally is not time to take a shower. And later on, when there is occasionally time for a shower, there is always something more important to do (see learning #2). So you will learn exactly what your threshold is for a shower becoming mission critical. Usually it involves more than one person commenting on “that weird smell” in your vicinity. No? …yeah, that’s never happened to me either… because I totally shower every day. …Let’s move on.
- How unhealthy you are. I’ve never pretended to be “healthy” in any way – I exercised regularly before I had the baby, but I love food way too much to ever try to diet. However, once my baby started eating solids, and more importantly, once he started eating off my plate like a grubby little raccoon, it became glaringly clear how horrible my diet is. I mean, when you realize you can’t remember when your kid last had a vegetable because he only eats what you eat… you gotta take a good look in the mirror (and refrigerator) and shape up. Or, if I’m being real, buy some frozen veggies and heat them up just for him to add to the rotisserie chicken he’s going to eat off your plate for the 4th day in a row (we both really like it, leave me alone!).
- How cheap all your stuff is. When a tiny infant who can barely stand upright is capable of destroying everything in your home, you know you’ve made some poor purchasing decisions. He’s only 10 months old, and already, our floors are chipped, our couches are peeling (peeling!?), three of our ceiling lights have completely stopped working, and basically our once-pristine suburban home might as well be a shanty out in the woods. I don’t know how everything fell to shambles so quickly, but I fear for what’s to come when he’s fully mobile. I’ve come to terms with it, and basically my life motto right now is #WhyBother. As in, fix the overhead light in our bedroom so I can actually see what clothes I’m putting on in the morning? #WhyBother.
- How dangerous all my stuff is. Literally everything you own can kill your child. Those decorative picture frames on your side table? If he doesn’t stab himself in the eyeball with the corners, he’s gonna shatter the glass and try to eat it. The harmless stack of blankets next to the couch? Yeah, he’s gonna pull those over and smother himself with them. The subwoofer standing next to the TV? He’s gonna climb it and fall off it. Just bubble wrap everything you can, padlock everything else, and keep the baby enclosed in the smallest space possible (until he plows over the baby gate and nearly kills himself that way… not that I’m speaking from experience or anything there 🙄).
To sum it up, the biggest thing you’re going to learn is that you need to change everything about yourself if you’re going to survive this parenting thing.