As ghosts and goblins abound this Halloween I’m reminded of something even more frightening – parenthood!
This occurred to me the other day when friends of mine announced they were expecting their first baby. Immediately two thoughts went through my head: 1) Thank goodness it’s them and not me (at four kids, I think I’ve filled my quota); and 2) My oh my oh my, you don’t know what you’re in for and I don’t want to scare you.
The proud papa-to-be explained how he planned to keep the home theatre basement intact as “Daddy’s Room”, (to snorts of derision from all of the experienced fathers around the table). That brought to mind all the expectations new parents have and how quickly the baby will scupper them. They asked me if I had any words of advice and there was so much I wanted to say that I
raced home and wrote it all down. Those of you who have children will recognize some universal truths. Warning: Some scenes may be frightening. Avert your eyes if you must.
- Whatever goes in has to come out. (Don’t give this one too much thought.)
- The first time they roll over will always coincide with the first time you lay them on the couch without a wall of pillows. (My son’s head shape is fine now. He’s 17.)
- There will be poo, and urine has a mind of its own.
- There will be no room in your house which is without baby equipment or stains.
- Yes, going through almost 20 diapers a day with a newborn is normal.
- Your house has always been this dirty… you just never looked under there before.
- You will learn how to deal with lice. No, you will.
- The first time your baby truly sleeps through the night will not be your first night of uninterrupted sleep since the birth, because you will be up 14 times to ensure the baby is still breathing.You might want to wake him just to make sure he’s okay. You might.
- Mozart didn’t have “Baby Mozart” playing when he was in the womb and he turned out fine. (Until he maybe got syphilis, went crazy, and died.)
- You will become your mother and you will say things that make you shudder.
- It’s really, really hard not to become one of “those Moms”.
- As hard as you try not to, you’re going to send out that Christmas card with the baby’s picture on it and something about your own little angel (religion notwithstanding).
- Against your strongest will, you’re going to learn what gluten-free means.
- Suppositories will no longer just be “in theory”.
- You will obsess about the baby milestones in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Until they’re 18.
- Not all children are toilet-trained by the time they go to kindergarten.
- Take advantage of the fact that your baby cannot walk or talk. In no time you will be telling them to sit down and shut up. (Funnily enough, when they are teenagers they will regress to grunting and slumping.)
- The folds in a baby’s neck smell wonderful…unless there is some cheesy milk fermenting there. But that’s a good precursor to the scents your son will emit after the age of 13.
- You have stretch marks now, Mom. You just haven’t seen them from the right angle yet. And don’t look at the back of your thigh. Ah, too late.
- Yes, of course that’s too much money to spend on a stroller/American Girl doll/a rep hockey team/gymnastics camp/motorized car. But you will.
The key to not letting your fears take over is understanding that Halloween is the one day that you’re allowed to eat 27 little chocolate bars in a row (they’re so tiny, that calories don’t count), and knowing that you made the right decision to leave that sexy cat costume at the store. Now that would be scary.
Kathy Buckworth’s latest book Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children, and Chardonnay, is in bookstores everywhere.
Visit www.kathybuckworth.com and follow Kathy on twitter at www.twitter.com/kathybuckworth.
Published in October 2010.