Prior to becoming a parent, I could not help but roll my eyes as some mom droned on and on about how raising a child was the toughest job she’d ever had. I wanted to get in her exhausted little face and scream “SERIOUSLY? IT’S A FUCKING BABY. YOU’RE NOT DISMANTLING A BOMB. YOU ARE CHANGING DIAPERS AND FLOPPING OUT A BOOB EVERY NOW AND AGAIN. GET OVER YOURSELF!” Oh, former me- if only I could slap you.
I knew my life was going to change once I had children, but I secretly hoped that I would just keep doing all the same activities I had been, just with an infant in tow. I imagined the baby thriving on a life full of adventure, learning not from a textbook, but from experience. There were a couple of problems with this idea: A) I do not own a VW Van. B) Babies do not thrive on adventure. They crave routine.
When I imagined having children, I pictured myself looking glowing and serene as I rested in a hospital bed, holding a perfect, button-nosed bundle of joy. Ben is standing over my shoulder, and we jokingly debate which one of us the baby looks like more. Skip ahead five years. I daydream about us going on a family picnic near a mountain lake. The bundle of joy is now a bright-eyed wonder, picking wildflowers and dipping toes in the lake, falling asleep in the backseat on the way home. I sort of ignored that time in between, when a kid can’t be taken anywhere without spilling food on the floor, shitting through an outfit, and having a complete meltdown. I can’t even say ignored, because the truth is, I had no idea it would be like that.
Ben and I had this brilliant plan to not let having kids stop us from doing the activities we enjoyed. He would watch the kids so I could craft or hike. I would entertain the tots while he squeezed in a mountain bike ride. We fooled ourselves into thinking we understood the sacrifices we’d be making. Maybe I’d only go out dancing once a month. He might only get to ride for an hour each weekend. Oh man, the best laid plans.
When I was pregnant, every parent with breath to speak advised “get your sleep now because you won’t be getting any as soon as the baby is born.” After hearing this phrase the first fifty times, I wanted to just scream “I GET IT! BABIES ARE UP ALL NIGHT! THEY REQUIRE CONSTANT CARE!” I did not get it. Not even a little bit. The reason people say that so much is because they are trying to warn you. But just like some teenage bimbo in a bad slasher flick, I do not heed warnings.