Becoming a parent changes you in ways that are to extensive to list. I mean when people say “everything changes” they are not kidding. It wasn’t long after Tiny-Small was born that I started to have major realizations about the behavior of other parents. You just don’t understand these seemingly crazy things parents do until you have kids of your own. It’s been a real eye opener to see how the other half lives. I am not sure I can even remember what it was like to be childless, but I do remember there was much more sleep.
1. “Mom Jeans” weren’t just a terrible fashion experiment. They actually had an important function moms never talk about. The high-waisted jeans held in the inevitable muffin top.
2. People don’t “let themselves go” after they get married and have kids, it just happens to them. Most parents don’t have time to work, care for children, keep a household going AND buy the latest fashions, fit into the latest fashions, get designer hairstyles, and always have a perfect pedicure.
3. People with young children don’t lose interest in popular music, they just never get to listen to any. They will spend at least 5 years in a row listening to Elmo singing in their car (and other various children’s music). By the time they can resume listening to popular music again they won’t know who any of the new musicians are. That’s why people just listen to the same old music they listened to in high school. This way they don’t embarrass themselves in front of their teenagers. Besides, who can remember all those new names anyway?
4. Parents are not trying to be funny when they walk into a room and stare into space. You really can’t remember what you came into the room for, what you opened the refrigerator door for, or why you are carrying the scissors around in your left hand. Life, for the most part, is lived in a fog.
5. Your childless friends will get bored with you and your friends with children won’t have time for you. That’s OK though, because you won’t have time for them anymore either. At least not like you used to. Between work, child maintenance, car maintenance, home maintenance, and grocery shopping you will be lucky if you have time to brush your teeth and eat sitting down.
6. When your child is with you people will smile at you more, hold doors open for you, give you free advice, tell you about their grandchildren, and hand out candy freely. In short, having a child pays off in pleasantries in situations you might otherwise be ignored in. Being a parent does have some perks.
7. Big hair is not a fashion device, it’s a requirement. The bigger the hair is the smaller your waist looks. It’s not that mothers are unwilling to try the latest hair techniques, it’s just that we need something to balance out our much wider hips. This is why we have become famous for hair shaped like giant helmets, or, wild, unkempt, I just rolled out of bed hair.
8. Nobody wants to drive a minivan. After you have kids you just give up being cool for a little peace and quiet. You just want some space between you, the kids, and the detritus that now covers the backseat and the floor. Between the abandoned books, kicked off shoes and sticky lollipop sticks lies your dignity and you don’t care because at least you can listen to NPR without screaming in the background.
9. You really never do stop worrying about your kids. It’s not just something people say to be charming. Years later you know you will still be sneaking into your kids room at night to make sure they are still breathing. Somewhere, deep in your heart, you realize you will have to shove this urge aside because your 27 year old son, home for a visit, probably won’t appreciate you waking him up at 3 am just to test if he is still alive.
10. Your kids make your heart swell with love and pride in ways you never imagined before. They can also make you more angry than you have ever been in your entire life and more tired. That’s the price you have to pay for the moments they make you beyond-your-wildest-dreams happy and cause you to laugh so hard your false teeth fall out (I’ve seen it happen).
What have you learned by becoming a parent?