Although everyone’s experience with parenthood is unique, I have found that there are a few universal laws that govern everything in the parenting world. Similar to the Law of Gravity or Law of Motion, there is a Universal ‘Law of Parenting Contradictions’.
The ‘Law of Parenting Contradictions’ states that you will feel a mixed bag of emotions and feelings that are generally in complete opposition to each other, often occurring simultaneously. It’s darn right confusing.
Parenting is the best thing in the entire world and the hardest thing in the entire world. Time will go by feverishly fast, but other times it will crawl. You will love your new life with kids, but will also miss aspects of your old life (and that’s okay). It’s exhausting and exhilarating, and confining yet connecting. You will wish that you worked full time in an office far, far away, but also wish that you could be home with the kids full time. I would tell any new parent to get comfortable with these contradictions (and many more)…
1. Forget 5pm, 8pm is the new happy hour. And by ‘happy hour’ I mean the kids are finally in bed and you will collapse on the couch, too tired to change the channel, you will watch a Disney cartoon until you fall asleep around 8:06 pm. And you will be totally fine with the fact that there is no other place you’d rather be than sleeping on that couch.
2. Your kids will be the new alarm clock, not allowing you to sleep a minute past 5:59am (if you’re lucky) for at least a half a decade.
3. Play dates are the new ‘hot’ date. Forget about going on a date with your partner unless you have the kids in tow (and your overflowing diaper bag), and it involves meeting up with another family of four for ice cream to ultimately see whose kids will have a meltdown first.
4. You will perpetually wonder what you did with all of your free time before kids. But you’ll never be able to answer this question.
5. You will never have your own food or beverage again. Your kids will lick it, backwash in it, drool on it and you are left with the aftermath. You will still eat it or drink it, not thinking twice.
6. Nap time does not equal down time. You would think it’s a special, quiet time in the home. Nope. This is when you’ll decide to clean the entire house, organize the closet, pay the bills, clean out the scary leftovers in the fridge, and plant an herb garden.
7. Baby wipes are the new multi-purpose cleaner. Not only will you be cleaning butts, you will be giving entire baby wipe baths to your kids. You will then glance over to the dirty dinner table for a quick wipe off, move over to the kitchen counter for a light scrub, then the appliances will catch your eye. You’ll finish off with cleaning the garbage can lid before you throw that thing away.
8. Care.com is the new match.com. Finding a babysitter you can trust your kid’s life with is far more stressful than finding the person you will marry, procreate with, and spend a lifetime with. You will check out way more profiles for babysitters than you ever did on any dating site.
9. Family time is the new ‘me’ time. You may have fleeting glimpses of alone time, but it’s oh so rare.
10. The sound of silence will no longer evoke feelings of serenity and relaxation. Instead, the sound of silence will severely spike your stress level because you will suddenly realize your kids are up to something.
11. Your sacred bathroom time now has a perpetual audience. Taking a shower? Peeing? It doesn’t matter. And your kids will want a play-by-play of whatever you are doing in there.
12. A trip to the grocery store alone is the new dream get-away.
13. You will add an “ies” sound to the end of certain words no matter how much you vowed you wouldn’t. You will say things like, “Can you put your sockies and shoesies on your feeties?”
14. Getting ready in the morning (or in the evening for that matter) is reduced to spot cleaning the food off your shirt from your little one’s dirty fingers, and spraying some dry shampoo in your hair.You’re then good to go.
15. You will realize the vision of what your life will be like after kids is nothing like your day-to-day reality of it.
16. You will look back on pictures of yourself before kids and think how young and rested you look, even if it was just months prior.
17. You will allow your children to do certain things like unroll 4 rolls of toilet paper or dump the entire salt shaker out if it allows you to finish cooking dinner or send out that important email.
18. You will have a new respect and appreciation for your parents, daycare providers, teachers and all restaurant servers.
19. You will wonder how children were raised throughout history (and still in many parts of the world) without access to modern conveniences like disposable diapers, the “Frozen” soundtrack, and squeezey applesauce.
20. The lower half of all your windows, doors and appliances will be decorated with smudges, smears and fingerprints for years. It’s a battle you won’t win.
21. Carrying your kids is the new workout. And you will wear yoga pants and t-shirts for an abnormally large portion of the day.
22. After you have your second child, you will wonder why you ever thought having just one child was hard.
23. You will hear the words “what little angels” and think to yourself “if she only knew.”
24. You will hear the words “enjoy every minute, it goes by so fast” from the mouths of seasoned parents whose little ones are now grown and gone. Fast? You will think nothing could be farther from the truth. But then there will come a day where you will find yourself offering those same words to new parents and meaning it whole-heartedly.
And so sweet momma, enjoy every minute of this. All of this. It goes by too fast.