You Know You’re A Parent When...

by Stephanie Mack
Originally Published: 
A brown-haired, brown-eyed toddler boy with a hat on his head, sitting in a stroller, smiling

1. Wristbands used to get you into clubs. Now they get you into petting zoos. We went to a petting zoo for a three-year-old’s birthday party not too long ago. IT WAS AMAZING. Later that night, my parents asked us, “WHOA, what were the wristbands for, ragers?!” Yes, for a petting zoo. Can’t keep us down.

2. 5:30 p.m. dinners are absolutely your jam. Who knew 5:30–7 p.m. was so HOPPING at mainstream retail destinations and mid-level American restaurants?! We are obsessed with early dinners out, preferably with other friends and their kids, which obviously multiplies the chaos along with the fun.

3. You feel guilty about the catastrophe left behind from those dinners. We now hang our heads low, walk briskly and avoid eye contact at ALL costs while exiting restaurants. I’ve worked in restaurants, so I remember. They hate me for the wreckage of puffs and shame. I feel horrible. Always.

4. During the week, Happy Hour is now Crappy Hour. I didn’t make this up; I stole the clever and perfectly fitting name from one of my MOPS table leaders last fall. But mamas at home, can I get an amen for the yikes factor of 5–7 p.m. on weekdays?! Husband, where are you?????!!!!!! Bedtime, where are you???!!!! Alas, fear not. Couch time with ice cream and Olivia Pope will be here in a matter of minutes even though it will feel like years.

5. Kids’ shows have seriously messed with your Netflix suggestions. I’m so sad. Netflix used to provide edgy, intriguing, useful recommendations based on my viewing history. House of Cards, Pretty Little Liars, Orange is the New Black. Now? After 30 minutes of Barney every morning? The Suite Life of Zach and Cody. Thomas the Train. Bob the Builder. Even Netflix knows I’m uncool.

6. You know where to look for every single elevator and ramp. I didn’t used to know that public places are required by law to have elevators and ramps pretty much everywhere. Now thanks to my blackout UppaBaby Vista, I know the location of every elevator in every major department store in almost every major mall in Orange County. I know my ramps, too. Word.

7. You lose a doll or a bear, and you RUN BACK FOR THAT FAMILY MEMBER. On a walk, in the mall, at the beach and you realize you’ve lost the lovey. The one strange object with whom your child has forged an ethereal bond. In our house, Cindy (mini-Cinderella) is one of us. Part of us. A Mack. We lose her and we’re launching the search party.

8. You’ve temporarily accepted an interior design scheme with accents of clutter, contraptions and primary colors. Swing, jumper, Mamaroo, play mat, car walker, cart walker, Bumbo, Rock ‘n Play, Pack ‘n Play, toys, toys, TOYS. Need I say more? If your house looks like mine, let’s be friends.

9. You experience things like chicken fingers and grilled cheese and forgot what you were missing! That stuff is GOOD. Okay, it’s TREMENDOUS. And mac ‘n cheese and PB & J?! Don’t even get me started! The calories don’t count if I only steal bites from my starving kid, right?!

10. The dentist feels like the spa. I used to DREAD beyond DREAD the dentist. For my last two cleanings, however, I had a sitter for my appointments. Do you know what this meant??!! Forty total blissful minutes ALONE in the car and one full hour lying COMPLETEY still. I.e., ecstasy. Now if only my dental hygienist were a little less chatty.

11. You’ve tasted amoxicillin in the past year. And you secretly think it’s delicious. Wait. No? Me neither, then.

12. You understand that murderous rage and overwhelming love can coexist in the same minute. Sometimes in the very same second. Kids are such beautiful monsters. #soinlove # killme #blessed #sendhelp

13. You love your kids so much that sometimes you want to wake them up at night. It’s 11 p.m. “Awwww, we miss her! I wish we could wake her up!” This would be the most horribly idiotic thing in the world we could possibly do, but the senseless temptation does cross our minds. Apparently shortterm memory loss is yet another byproduct of parenthood.

14. You’ve joined a very elite club and it feels pretty awesome. The exclusivity of sorority life has nothing on the parenthood society. Fellow moms and dads give you that look and you just KNOW. You’ve both endured the sleepless nights, the breast milk thawing, the poop analyses and scores of other indignities. Your souls have also left your bodies and started wearing pink bows or tiny blue Toms. Hazing accomplished. Just don’t bring up politics or religion, and by that I mean sleep training or vaccinations.

15. You finally understand everything your own parents did for you. Oh. Just, oh. And thank you. Just, thank you.

HIGH FIVE, PARENTS! (But first, you must use hand sanitizer. Please.)

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