They say you learn a lot about life, and yourself, when you become a parent. As the mother of four children, I can safely say that’s very true. I have learned many things over the past several years, and I’d like to share them with anyone out there who is contemplating becoming a parent.
Clothes: Pregnancy books and magazines make a big (ha!) production over maternity clothes. The idea is that you need a special (read: expensive) wardrobe to help you stay fashionable as you expand. This is nonsense. The time you really need a special wardrobe is *after* giving birth, to help you deal with spit-up, spilled milk and diapers. Think Teflon-coated. Think Scotchguarded. Think, yes, biohazard suit.
Diapers: If you’re not feeding them, you’re burping them, and if you’re not burping them, you’re changing a diaper. Non-parents often think that parents exaggerate ‘the diaper thing’ but just do the math: change a baby approximately every two hours, 24 hours a day, for an average of 10 diapers a day. Seven days a week, for six months… jumpin’ Jehosephat! That’s 1800 diapers already! Save yourself a ton of money and the local landfill a ton of space, and buy reusable cloth diapers. Washing diapers is no more icky than changing them and you’ll need the money you save to buy…
Ankle bandages: No matter how young they are, no matter how many times you tidy up in a day, there will be toys on the floor. And you will step on them. In an effort not to crush them and/or avoid severe plastic pokey bit perforation of your foot, you will twist one way or the other and thus wrench your ankle.
Arm strength: While pregnant, it’s a good idea to work on your upper body strength, particularly arm muscle tone. This is because you will have to lift your child no less than 347 times per day. You need to be prepared for both this, and the fact that your child is gaining weight at a rate well beyond what any fitness trainer would set for your Nautilus machine. You will also have to do at least 299 of your child lifts in the wee hours of the morning while half-asleep.
Arm strength 2: Figure on also having to carry at least 30 pounds of baby gear wherever you go. Children do not travel lightly, and at any given time you will need to have on your person: wipes, diapers, formula/milk, rattles, cereal, change pad, baby biscuits, eight changes of clothes (for you), changing pad, 10 changes of clothes (for the baby), more diapers, and toys.
Sleep deprivation: The pregnancy books all talk about preparing yourself for something called “sleep deprivation.” This term is deceiving — it makes it sound like you’re going to be a bit groggy every morning. Figure on not getting ANY sleep for the next, say, 20 years or so.
Strong stomach: If you’re the type that gets queasy easily, do not have children. Either that or prepare yourself for the sight (and feel) of pureed peas sneezed over a five metre radius.
Repetition: At all costs, stay away from electronic toys. This is not because the old toys are intrinsically better than the new toys. It’s because the electronic toys are not yet Internet-enabled and thus play only two tunes. Two. You will go mad listening to these same two tunes all day.
Weight loss: Getting back into shape after being pregnant is easy. Getting back into shape after being pregnant if you’re looking after a child, which, yes, goes kind of hand in hand with having been pregnant, is a whole ‘nother matter. This is because you will have sleepless nights and constant demands on your time during the day, and you won’t even have time for a sit-up, much less those Body Bounce classes you were taking last year. Also: it is one of life’s great cruelties that housework does not burn many calories.
Smiles and giggles: If you like this sort of thing, then parenthood is definitely for you. Children give them out freely, and it’s what makes it all so very worth while.
Even the sneezed peas.