A friend and I were texting this morning about our children and I realized that there are no textbooks that can prepare you for the onslaught of parenting. Yes, What To Expect When You Are Expecting might tell you about preeclampsia and low birth weight, it might guilt you out of drinking copious amounts of wine and eating hotdogs, but it doesn’t prepare you for the reality of becoming enslaved to your little darling/s.
Here are some things that should be included in WTEWYAE:
1. Stock up on stain remover and buckets. You should have an 18-year supply of carpet cleaning solution and whatever will remove vomit, feces, spit-up, urine, blood and snot from your clothing, furniture, purse, skin and hair on hand at all times.
2. You might give birth to an experiential learner. In that case be prepared for the Brown Glove: “Mama, my hand is a brown glove!” Never allow the experiential learner to shit unattended. You may also experience the Yellow Wall: “Mama, I paint pee!” Never allow the experiential learner to be naked unattended. Also the White Mouth: “Mama, I eat clay!” “Mama, I eat toothpaste” And, more than likely, the Mouthful of Something Unidentifiable: “Mama, I dog food!” “Mama, I cat food!” “Mama, I no know what ish is!” Never leave experiential learner unattended around pasty substances or at PetSmart.
3. You may give birth to a child who is on “The Spectrum.” Since being on the spectrum does mean sliding down a rainbow or riding on unicorns or fairies, prepare yourself for years of wondering if your child is simply a lovable dorky oddball or someone with a diagnosable challenge. Set aside thousands of dollars for therapy with psychologists, neuropsychologists, therapists, speech pathologists, and occupational therapists. Be prepared for the possibility that after years of therapy your child will more than likely remain a lovable dorky oddball who now has a diagnosis.
4. As much as you completely love your child, there will be times that you feel gasp disdain, irritation, mortification, disillusionment, boredom, withdrawal, anxiety, depression, elation, joy, and humiliation as a parent. Your friends may think you have a drinking problem because you really love, think, and talk at length about that one glass of wine you drink every evening.
5. Each month as your write out the loan payment for your graduate education that has rendered you unemployable, you will be subjected to the tones of your child’s “friends” and wish that you could be rendered unconscious at will:
6. Summers will no longer be a time of frivolity, sunbathing, and carefree, sexy vacations. You will now be considered the vehicle for entertainment, the planner of play dates, the manufacturer of fun. You will beg various relatives to come for visits. You will count down the days until school begins.
7. You will pray for your own death when you sink your bare heel into a tiny Lego piece that has been strategically left in the carpet. This will happen in the middle of the night so you must learn to weep, scream and curse silently so you don’t wake up the children.
8. Your relationship with your partner will be different. Sex appeal and charm may take a backseat to her/his ability to A. Catch puke, B. Distract screaming children, D. Kill spiders, remove rodents, E. Retrieve ice cream, cupcakes, cake late at night F. Make strong coffee. Rather than seduction for seduction’s sake, you may find yourself seducing for more time to sleep, a day without children, time out with friends.
9. You may give birth to a gay child. Prepare your best gay friends to expect texts asking for parenting advice. You may be thrilled (I love gay people!), you may be scared (life is challenging enough!), you may fall in love with this child even harder because she/he is so uniquely, authentically, beautifully human.
10. Nothing about parenthood will be Expected. Many things you think you will not do, including co-sleeping with your child, breastfeeding your child past a certain age, and giving up sexual freedom, you will do. Expect it.