Parenthood is a full-contact sport, beginning with birth and ending whenever the children are old enough to stop accidentally stepping on Daddy’s testicles.
People warn soon-to-be parents about colic, postpartum depression, and the horrors of diaper rashes, but no one ever talks about the injuries. No one ever mentions the laryngitis you’ll inevitably get from yelling at your kids to “stop riding the dog like a pony!” No one talks about the searing pain behind your eyeballs that develops after several hours in the car with small children.
Not one parenting book addresses tendonitis from the repetitive movement of lifting toddlers in and out of cribs and bathtubs. And my back? It hurts. What To Expect… didn’t warn me. What the fuck, What To Expect. You had over 25 chapters to address this. You talked at length about bowel movements, yet failed to address parental injuries, which is something that plagues us all.
Because I believe that all parents should have the opportunity to arm themselves with practical information, I have compiled a list of what you need to know about the physical risks involved when you decide to become a parent.
1. There are common, unavoidable injuries in parenthood.
These include stepping on blocks, accidental head butts to the face or breast, stubbing a toe during a middle of the night feeding, and burning your hand on a bottle warmer. You may trip over a toy and miss the bottom step, pinch your finger in a car seat buckle, or have an overzealous or teething baby clamp onto your boob with Jedi-like force. These injuries are a nuisance, but do not warrant a trip to urgent care—usually.
2. Sleep deprivation causes clumsiness.
I don’t know about you, but that pretty much explains every bruise I’ve had on my body since 2008. Sleep deprivation exacerbates the number of times you will sustain a common injury, which means that eventually you will lose the feeling in your feet from years of stepping on Legos.
3. The hangovers you’ll get from drowning your sorrows after a particularly difficult week are brutal.
Hangovers as a parent make whatever happened in college seem mild by comparison. In college, there was always the option of a nap. Now if I happen to fall asleep during the day, I wake up covered in stickers. All the things that make a hangover suck—bright lights, loud noises, and responsibilities—are amplified when you add children to the mix.
4. You may sustain a traumatic brain injury.
Even when your children grow into tweens and teens, they still do things like leave cabinet doors open for you to bash your head into. Or maybe your elementary-aged child will jump onto your back like a spider monkey, causing you to fall backwards and strike your head on a piece of furniture. Maybe you’ll end up in the emergency room because you’re slurring and can’t remember your own birth date. Maybe you’ll have to call your friend two weeks later and ask her to take you back to the ER for a brain scan, and maybe the nurse in triage will ask you how much you weigh and maybe you will answer with the actual number, loudly, because brain damage. But don’t worry—you and your friend will never speak of it again. And I’m not saying this will happen. I’m just saying it might.
5. Your teeth are gonna get chipped.
You bent over to make sure your child was OK after she fell down, and she shot up and bashed you in the mouth. Or your son was about to throw a rock at the exact moment that you leaned over to tie your shoe, and it made contact with your mouth. Sometimes buckles snap and the hard plastic part pops you at the perfect angle. Thankfully, dental work has come a long way in recent years.
6. Reliving your glory days is a terrible idea and will only result in injury.
Whether it’s by tossing a ball in the backyard, rollerblading, doing flips on the trampoline, or showing the kids how you used to hula-hoop, let’s face it, you’re going to hurt yourself. Dads who toss their children into the air are super fun, yes, but they also may not be able to get out of bed the next day. You’re not young anymore. You’re brittle. Own it.
The good news is, as long as you have health insurance and you’re stocked up on supplies like coffee, alcohol, and ibuprofen, you probably won’t die—but sometimes you’ll feel like you might.