Everyone tries to warn you about what you’re in for as a first-time parent. They tell you about the poop, they tell you about the sleepless nights and then they tell you about the poop again. They’re not wrong, but in my own parenting adventure, I’ve found that there are a few things that ended up being huge parts of my day-to-day parenting, which nobody mentioned at all. Hey, you can’t be ready for everything!
Here is an incomplete list of unexpected aspects of parenting. I do most of these things at least once a day, and maybe you do too.
Pretending to be asleep
My kid (eight months old) still takes several naps a day, but he has no concept of the fact that grown-ups sleep differently. It turns out, he really only ever wants to fall asleep if he can be assured that sleep is what we are all doing. So I spend an extraordinary amount of time with my eyes closed, breathing deeply, counting to 10 in my head and trying not to peek.
When he was younger, he fell for this even in the most hilarious circumstances. I could literally stand over his crib and be all like “oh yeah, Mama is totally asleep too” and he would doze off, confident that it was nap time for everybody. Nowadays, I have to put a lot more effort into being convincing, and sometimes it leads to accidental mom naps. Whoops.
Using baby wipes for non-intended purposes
Filthy baby hands? Grab a wipe! Filthy mom hands? Grab a wipe! Spit up on the carpet? Grab a wipe! Gotta blow your nose right now but can’t escape to get a tissue? You get the idea.
Baby wipes are the single greatest invention on the planet and I honestly don’t know how I ever survived without a steady supply of them. Three cheers for baby wipes!
Saying “Mama be right there!”
If there is one sentence that I say approximately 8,000 times a day, it’s “Mama be right there!”, which is not even a proper sentence, and a younger, child-free me would not approve. A younger me would insist on only saying fully grammatically correct things to preverbal infants and why are you away from your baby so damn much anyways?
But parent me knows better. The reality is I need a shorthand thing to say on autopilot and this is what happens. Sometimes you have to pee, or get a snack or feed the cat, and the second you do that your lovely, cherubic, beautiful child is going to scream for you.
Don’t cry, Mama be right there!
Apologizing. To everyone. The baby included.
I’m so sorry that I missed your phone call for the eighth time, I was breastfeeding and couldn’t answer the phone. I’m so sorry that I missed your performance art piece, I was also breastfeeding then.
Baby, I’m sorry I didn’t realize you had pooped in your diaper for 20 minutes. I feel really bad about that. I’m also sorry that it took me five minutes to get ready to breastfeed again.
Eating food off the baby
When he was a newborn, it was food that I dropped on him (sorry!) because I was eating while breastfeeding (because he was always breastfeeding). Now that he’s a big kid who feeds himself, it’s the food that I find stuck to his pants when I pull him out of his high chair. Whatever, I’m hungry and I don’t care.
Saying “They grow up so fast!”
I am going to level with you. I am a huge jerk. Before my kid was born, I actually made fun of other parents (behind their backs, mercifully) for their constant vocalization that children do, in fact, grow quickly. I was like “Eugh, we know, kids grow up fast, everyone already knows that why are you saying it again?”
But there were two things that I didn’t know.
One. Kids actually grow faster when they are your kids. It’s a scientific fact. However fast you expect it to go, it will go twice as fast as that. You have zero control over it and it is constantly jarring. At least 12 times a day, my baby does something that seems totally impossible to me, because obviously I just gave birth to him yesterday and there is literally no way in hell he is old enough to be doing all of the things that he is doing right now.
Two. Phrases like “they grow up so fast” and “I can’t believe how big he is” are actually just a biological function of the parental voicebox. They just happen to you. Much like a fart, holding it in is uncomfortable and unhealthy and often impossible, no matter how inappropriate it may be to actually say it.
I know it’s annoying.
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