There are a lot of things about parenthood that you only discover once you’re deep in it. People warn you about things like sleep regression or picky eaters, but there are so many things I felt blindsided by. Parenting is one harsh reality after another, and each one is more surprising.
It’s actually the most mundane parts of parenting that are the harshest. Mainly because they’re the things you can’t get away from no matter how much you want to.
These are the ones that I keep coming back to:
1. Your main job is finding shit.
Like many moms, I have bought ample amounts of storage for my kid’s toys and other crap. But somehow, nothing is ever where it should be. One harsh reality of parenting is constantly having to find something. There are a finite amount of places things can get lost, and yet, it’s like they grow legs and disappear. And then they reappear in the most random place possible. Of course, most of the time things would get found if their owner simply put them back where they belong. And I find myself saying that at least a dozen times a day. How hard is it to put your goddamn toys, or shoes, or jacket or cup in its proper place? Why is it that I will spend five minutes in the morning looking for one of my shoes? I put them in the same spot every time I take them off. If I add up all the time I spend looking for things, I’d easily save at least an hour every day.
2. Kids are always hungry.
I had always been warned that having a son meant he’d eat me out of house and home as a teenager. So imagine my surprise when that started at the ripe old age of three. Seriously, how is someone so small always so freaking hungry? I can set my watch to him coming to me saying “Mom, can I have a snack?” Do you know how many times I have to stop what I’m doing to open a snack? A packet of fruit snacks, a bag of chips, a string cheese. I had no idea that I’d spend so much of my time fetching snacks. Every trip to the grocery store for more is a harsh reality that this whole “feeding him” thing isn’t ending.
3. You’re constantly picking up stuff.
I swear, there is literally always something I’m picking up. A stray piece of paper, a rogue Lego, or a toy car that I almost slip on and die. The floor has somehow become the cool place for crap to hang out. And most of it is actual garbage. There is more than one garbage can in our place, and yet there is a balled up tissue on the floor next to it. Because heaven forbid my kid picks it up when he misses the can. Or I will walk by and see a stray shirt or pair of pants that somehow doesn’t quite get where it belongs. And it’s not like he doesn’t know where it goes, because other things make it there. I can start at one end of the room and have an arm full of crap that needs to be picked up by the other end.
4. So. Many. Crumbs.
There are always crumbs! Yes, we eat things that create crumbs. But it’s not like we’re the type of people who chew with our mouths open. So there’s no reason to have so many freaking crumbs in the bed. Or all over the floor. Crumbs are impossible to stay on top of, no matter how hard I try. I vacuum and sweep regularly, and yet, they never freaking go away! If anything, they seem to grow and spread to even the most abandoned corners. Maybe I should just banish chips? Make my kid eat crunchy snacks over the sink? Nah, I’ll just keep vacuuming.
5. The bathroom floor is always wet.
Constantly cleaning up after kids is my least favorite parenting harsh reality. There is something about kids that make them think they’re fucking Willy at the end of Free Willy. No matter how many times you say “keep the water in the bathtub,” they never do. During bath time, I keep the tub less full. Because I know half of that water is going to end up on my floor. I have yet to be wrong. But the wet floor somehow transcends just bath time. There are so many times I step in a puddle. And before you ask, no, it’s not pee. Every time the sink gets turned on, water ends up all over the floor. I’m seriously thinking about turning my socks into mops.
6. Kids are hoarders.
As much as I try, I feel like I live in an episode of Hoarders. Seriously, why is it that you have to pry a tattered piece of paper out of their hands? Every scrap of paper, discarded water bottle, used sticker from a year ago, must stay. How could you even suggest throwing out that coupon your kid got from the grocery store? It’s literally their most prized possession! And don’t ask them if they really need another rock. That is a personal affront. So then you find yourself sneaking around once they’ve gone to sleep collecting actual trash. The hardest part? Lying to them the next day when they can’t find whatever you threw out.
Shoes will get lost under the bed. Water will slosh out of the bathtub with reckless abandon. And there will be so many fruit snacks consumed, it will make your head spin. Being a parent is mostly predictable, in that it’s really just one harsh reality after another.
How ironic that the one thing that brings us those realities is also the thing that fills us up the most.
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