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7 Things I Didn’t Understand Until I Became a Parent

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

I remember life before kids. I got more than three hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, carried a normal-sized purse, and wore heels on a regular basis. I didn’t belt out songs about living in pineapples under the sea at random intervals. And I remember my parent friends complaining about so many things and thinking they were so annoying — and then I became one.

Here are seven things I never understood until I became a parent myself.

1. What being busy really means

Parenting is busy business but I didn’t fully grasp that before I reproduced. I used to think carpools, soccer practices, and Costco runs were excuses to avoid happy hour. Surely if these mamas had “a system” or better organization, they’d be able to take some time for themselves (aka come for drinks with me).

I realize now how utterly ridiculous that sounds. Parents are busy. Just when we make it through the sleep-deprivation years, bam. School-aged activities swoop in and kick our butts. I’d love a kid-free night out where no one talks about poop or the PTA but the truth is, I am busy.

2. Potty training posts on Facebook

I get it — they’re almost unfriend-worthy. But that first time my kid peed in the potty? Heck yeah, I Facebooked it.

There are those lucky parents who breeze through potty training … and I pretty much hate them. Just kidding, but most of us know the process is frustrating. When your small human masters this very ordinary developmental milestone, it’s a big, big deal. You don’t grasp the potty training wow factor until your kid “gets” it. And yes, you need everyone to know.

3. Why kids need to eat at restaurants

Families should stick to eating at places that have a drive-thru and plastic utensils.”

I actually said this once. I know, right? And while I maintain that small children and fine dining don’t mix, motherhood has given me a different perspective on kids and restaurants.

If a family is at the table next to you at Olive Garden, cut them some slack. Maybe we’re on the go and trying to feed their family something besides greasy fast food kid’s meals between gymnastics and karate. Or, hey, maybe we just don’t want to freaking cook for once!

If we don’t expose our kids to restaurants, how will they to learn to appropriately behave in one? And you just never know their situation; that usually perfectly angelic child may flip the switch as soon as her butt hits the booster seat, surprising you with an epic meltdown. Kids are unpredictable and the quiet ones are sneaky.

Pre-kid me definitely threw the stink eye at the parents of “toddlers behaving badly” … and karma has sufficiently paid me back.

4. So. many. kid. pictures. on. Instagram.

There’s not much I can say to make this less annoying for someone it annoys. My kids are cute, okay? I want to share the cuteness with everyone, and I refuse to apologize!

5. Why showers are a luxury

I used to get so tired of hearing about how moms don’t have time to shower. But then … enter science projects. Bake sales. Baby puke. Dog puke. Homework. Telephone calls. The fact that dinner doesn’t cook itself, people. The fact that I pressed snooze four times because my kid kept me awake until 4 AM.

I don’t love the “not so fresh” feeling, but it happens. Non-parents might think “don’t look crappy and stink” is an easy goal, but some days you’re just treading water. See also: immensely thankful for Febreze and dry shampoo.

6. Referring to your spouse as “Mommy” or “Daddy”

Yeah, it’s a little creepy. I don’t have a good explanation for why it happens, and I try not to make a habit of it, but when so much of my conversation is directed at kids under the age of 6, sometimes it just slips out.

7. The public butt sniff

Licking your fingers and wiping your kid’s face? Diaper sniffing? Letting your kid eat a Cheerio she fished out from the bottom of your purse? Picking a pacifier off the floor, licking it, and sticking it in the baby’s mouth?

I remember the first time I saw someone do the public butt sniff. I vowed that would never be me. And now … that is so, so me. I’ve owned all of these moves and I’m over being embarrassed about it. They say motherhood is beautiful. While that is true, motherhood is also disgusting in a way you just don’t grasp until you have kids.

***

Sometimes it’s hard to be empathetic to situations we’re removed from. The next time someone rolls their eyes because you have your kids at Applebee’s or makes a snide remark about your kid-saturated social media show, just remember that in your own pre-kid life, you probably viewed things exactly as they did.

And know that karma will totally bite them in the butt if they ever have kids of their own.

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