The Conundrum of Parenthood

I was sitting with a guy I work with the other day during lunch. Somehow the topic of parenthood came up. No idea how. Nope. Still not coming to me. What would have ever sparked that topic?

Anyhoo, he said, “I am so ready.” I said, “For what?” He added, “I am so ready for children.” I said, “Well, no one is ever ready, but if you’re willing to give up everything you love…you might be close.” He asked, “What do you mean?” This sparked a conversation, give or take a few words, about the joys of parenthood: (his words in italics)

If you’re willing to have your mac become your child’s portable DVD player, you might be ready. I’ve got that covered. I have a portable DVD player. Oh, good. I hope you like it, because that’s what you’ll be watching your movies on.

If you want to give up eating caramel apples with nuts forever then you might be ready. I prefer them without nuts. Well, then…your kids will want the ones with nuts. Only.

You can never hang-out anywhere for as long as you want ever again. I don’t care about that. I’m a homebody anyway. Yeah. Okay.

Your number one priority in life will be keeping sliced deli cheese in the house. You will experience nuclear fall-out every morning before work attempting to dress said child in weather-appropriate gear. You will find yourself saying things that you overhear other parents saying to their children that not only don’t work, but clearly make the situation much worse. And you knew this, because you saw what happened when those other parents said it right after you rolled your eyes. And lastly, you can’t have anything nice. I can’t wait.

Whatever.

But the real test, is when your child has been sick for a week like mine has and everything you try to make her feel better mocks you. And the giving up everything you love part slaps you in the face. You thought you loved chocolate before, pedicures, browsing bookstores, going out with friends for brunch? There is nothing compared to the love you have for a child, especially when they’re sick and staring at you as if each glance will make it all go away. You aren’t sleeping, and neither are they. You never get used to not sleeping; you just get used to being really tired.

Nothing will ever prepare you for that kind of a week of parenting. It will be the hardest thing you ever do. And people who don’t have children have all the advice for you in the world, and tell you what their parents did. They’ll tell you you’re over-reacting. They’ll talk about you behind your back about how you can’t handle parenthood and other obligations. They’ll ask you why a number of people can’t watch your child for you, as if anyone else in the world will do for them what you do.

I feel it is my duty to warn people about the parts of parenthood that no one warned me about. And they’re some of the most precious moments of my life. That is, of course, until they start feeling better and begin barking orders at you, and you haven’t slept in two days…or showered…or eaten something other than popcorn and hot tea. No worries. You’ll be ready.

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