As parents quickly learn, nothing can really prepare you for parenthood. The sleep deprivation feels like torture. The diaper changes are like something out of a horror movie. And the internet becomes a source of endless nightmare fuel. Not surprisingly, there are lists upon lists of all the unexpected challenges of parenthood, but what about the unexpected benefits? Surely, there must be some positives to parenthood, right? If not, procreation has been the universe’s biggest “gotcha!” ever.
Fear not, parenthood isn’t just a series of unexpected knees to the groin. There are a lot of unexpected advantages too.
1. An excuse to go to bed at 9 p.m. on a weekend. The best parts of the late-night shows are available on YouTube the next morning, and isn’t 9 p.m. the new midnight, anyway?
2. (Near) endless supply of candy. By the time Easter candy is depleted, it’s parade season, and when that ends, it’s Halloween, which will get you straight through to the holidays. And if you’re lucky, you can sneak enough holiday treats to get you through to Easter again. Eating all of them while hiding in a closet, of course.
3. An excuse to skip things you didn’t want to go to anyway. Don’t want to go to your neighbor’s daughter’s bat mitzvah party? Bummer, it’s past your kid’s bedtime. Don’t want to drive five hours to your family reunion? Nope, can’t make it because your 5-year-old has a can’t-miss soccer practice. The excuses are endless.
4. A scapegoat for arriving late. Even though the real reason is you couldn’t get your shit together.
5. Watching kids’ movies in the theater. Of course, you can go see Inside Out or Kung Fu Panda 3 in the theater as an adult, but it’s just far less awkward with a child in tow.
6. Wearing jeans with an elastic waistband. Maternity jeans have a very long shelf life until, say, around the time your youngest child goes to kindergarten. And then they are called “yoga pants.”
7. Naps. Anytime. Anywhere. Anyhow.
8. Moving quickly through airport security.
No one wants to listen to a toddler meltdown while trapped in the airport security line (otherwise known as Hell on Earth). Thankfully, there is the Family Line. Move on through, parents!
9. Embracing the humor of a 12-year-old boy. Fart jokes were funny then. They are funny now.
10. Feeling funny again. Finally, someone gets your childish humor—a child.
11. Reliving your youth. Now you have an excuse to spend hundreds of dollars on baseball cards and waste hours browsing the cheap jewelry at Claire’s.
12. Leaving the scene. Is the conversation with your Great-Uncle Bob getting a little awkward? Time for a toddler diaper change! Sick of listening to the random lady at the grocery store give you advice on how to get your baby to sleep through the night? Time for a feeding! Need a break from the family drama for a minute? It’s nap time! (see also No. 7.)
13. Sneaking leftover food. As we parents know, there is no way your kid is going to finish a burger and fries, especially at a restaurant where it basically costs as much as the newest Kate Spade bag. But we also know that leftovers eaten off kids’ plates are completely calorie-free.
14. Coloring books. Because who doesn’t fucking love to color?!
15. Bumpers at the bowling alley. Goodbye, gutter balls! You will mock me no more!
16. Free pass to the front of the line in a crowded restroom. No one wants to see a preschooler pee while they stand in line. Just flash them that “she’s really gotta go” look, and you’ll get the next open stall. But make sure the ladies still squeezing their lady parts together don’t hear your child say, “But Mommy, I thought it was my turn to go potty.”
17. Being able to beat someone at all those childhood games you lost as a kid. Your entire life, your older siblings have beaten you at Candyland, Uno, Twister, Around the World, Monopoly, you name it. Well, no longer are you the loser at all the games. Nope, now you can be the winner! (Of course, you also have deal with the “I hate losing” tantrum that ensues, but it’s worth it.)
18. Keeping up with cool-kid-speak. We can count on our kids to tell us what “bae” means and to let us know that LOL has jumped the shark. Of course, they also tell us with an eye-roll, but—hey!—knowledge is power, right?
19. Selective fuck-giving. We all have a limited supply of fucks to give, and because children are taking up a whole lot of them, there just aren’t any more fucks left for things like Aunt Edna’s passive-aggressive comments about your tattoos and your second cousin’s questions about when you will stop being a writer and get a real job.
20. A fan club. Well, until they become teens anyway.
So you see, parenting isn’t just 5 a.m. weekend wake-ups, diaper blowouts, and soccer practices in the cold. There are plenty of unexpected benefits as well. Now if you’ll excuse, I’m about to throw on some stretchy pants and sneak some leftover Easter candy before I kick my son’s ass at a game of Candy Land while laughing at his fart jokes. And it will be just as awesome as it sounds.