I have three kids. I love the hell out of each and every one of them and wouldn’t trade a minute with them. But I had NO idea what I was getting into. When you are young and in love you think “I want a child that looks like him.” or “Maybe our children will have his sense of humor.” or “I want a little piece of us.” And you are right. It’s incredible when your little boy looks like your father or your little girl quirks her little eyebrow just like her daddy and sends you into a fit of giggles. But babies aren’t all bubbles and sunshine. And I know you’re sitting there thinking that the diapers and spit-up and messy toys and the extra cost are all I’m referencing. But you’d be wrong. So here’s a short little list of things you ought to know.
- You like going to the bathroom alone? Nope. I really mean nope. And to clarify, I mean, alone as in you are on the toilet and no one is staring at you, analyzing your every breath while you are trying to take a moment to do your business. I’m not talking about your significant other here. Well, once the baby is walking, and in some cases just crawling, you can give that up. Cause if you don’t close that door, you will have a pair or two of beady little eyes, watching you do your business and getting into everything in the bathroom as they watch you. And they won’t be getting into things where you can grab them and keep them from opening the cabinet and pouring all of your lotion on the floor or eating half a toilet paper roll. Nope… they do that just out of reach. And if you DO close that door? Well…. picture little fingers sliding under the bottom of that door, grabbing on like little cute pink sausages, and then pulling the hell out of the door as they squeal like a stuck pig, trying to open the door on themselves. If they succeed, door meets head and the wailing begins. But if this method fails, they will usually revert to the use of hard plastic toys as battering rams. It’s very peaceful. You learn to relish the public bathroom at work far more than you should.
- Calm dinners are done. That peaceful meal with food on actual plates on the actual table with humans sitting in actual seats… well that’s just overrated. Now you spend the entire meal yelling at one to sit down, bottom on seat, eat her food, stop taunting her brother, don’t feed the cat or dog, and trying to catch the flying food from the high chair or begging him or her to stop rubbing the noodles with tomato sauce in their hair or shoving the peas in the ears. The husband and I have taken to eating in shifts, one of us eats while the other does zone coverage on the babies, and one of us takes the kids outside and washes them off with a high powered hose after dinner, while the other tries to find the floor and high chair under the scraps of food. Whoever said that family dinners are good for the relationships with children, wasn’t talking about kids under the age of 5.
- Mornings are shot. You no longer have the calm wake up and hit the alarm 6 times, slowly roll out of bed and shower, get dressed and get to work, all in a matter of half an hour or so. Nope… you have to get up two hours before you have to leave to make sure the baby is fed, the middle one is cleaned up, the sheets are changed on his bed because they have yet to invent a diaper sturdy enough to handle his nights, everyone is dressed, everyone’s lunches are made, breakfast is eaten by everyone but you, mom and dad both get time for a shower while keeping the kids from eating each other, and the clothing is all weather appropriate. With two under two, it’s a task just to get jackets and shoes on both them without the one you aren’t working on tearing his shoes off and somehow magically hidden somewhere in the living room during the .02758 seconds you had your back turned. You end up bribing one with a treat Every.Single.Morning to get him to put on his jacket and keep it on, and then BEG some help out of the oldest kid to get all the shoes on. Forget hair brushed. If they are wearing clean clothes and no one is bleeding, I feel like I have won the lottery. And the ride in to work, someone is going to be crying for no reason other than they didn’t like the whole leaving the house thing. It.Doesn’t.Matter.What.You.Do. Just expect it. But the kisses at drop off and the clinging to you because they don’t want you to go kinda helps you forget that stuff.
- You won’t get the kids down by 7:30 pm and have another two or three hours be a couple. MAYBE one of your kids will go to bed without too much fuss. But it is too much to ask that all your babies go down without a fight. And that whole “she’ll sleep through the night by 6 months” thing might work for some kids, BUT NOT ALL OF THEM. Our middle kid was always a good sleeper once we got his bed sorted out. Down fast and easy, sleeps late. Love that. But both my girls? You’d think I was stabbing them the way they’d cry at bedtime. There’s only so much soothing you can do with a baby that WILL NOT SLEEP. We’re talking hours of rocking. We’ve taken to just taking her to bed with us. In our bed. Between us. This does not make for great nights. The kid kicks like Bruce Lee and I end up cuddling by holding his hand over the baby’s head all night. As I am typing this right now, she is in her crib screaming like her brother is in there hitting her. If I go in that room, he will be on his bed, with his Vader stuffy, and will point at her and inform me that “Vivi crying.” No $hi+. I think the people in the next town over can hear her. What it’s going to take is getting her a big girl bed, and me lying down with her every night, like I did with her sister, until she’s asleep, and then all stealth-like, tucking a blanket around her so she thinks I’m still there, then being all mom-ninja and somersaulting out without hitting the floorboard that creaks and somehow getting out the door without it squeaking. The mattress for this plan is on order and should be delivered soon, I hope. She’s only just over a year old and I’m already moving her from her crib, but I just don’t care. I’m done with kidney punches in the middle of the night.
- The house looks like a bomb went off in a Toys R Us… and there’s sand everywhere. I don’t know how it happens. I can take the kids and shake them out, physically, like you would a rug, on the front patio, to keep the sand out of my house, but it’s still everywhere. If you have a kid in daycare and they don’t lock the kids in the closet when you aren’t looking, chances are high they are on a playground and somewhere on that playground is sand. Evil, sad, horrible, probably-used-by-a-stray-cat-as-a-litter-box sand. Sand is the bane of my existence and I loath every tiny particle of it. And the toys. OMG… seriously… W.T.F. happened to my living room? Granted I have some grown up clutter and should probably put away the 23,756,289,587th load of laundry I’ve done this week, but as you can tell from the photo, I live in a brightly colored, plastic hell. I’m thinking this is Dante’s 8th level. It’s so bad that even Dante couldn’t fathom putting it on paper. They say that the pain from stepping on a lego is akin to breaking your leg, and I believe them. I’ve never broken a leg, but omg… those little blocks. Even those large lego-like blocks hurt like a b**th in the middle of the night. And there is no real cure to the mess. You can pick them up. But if you do it during the day, the minute after you pick it all up, one of the kids will LITERALLY take the whole huge box and dump it all out again… If you do it at bedtime, the very first thing they do is dump that thing… quite literally as they are walking to the door to leave in the morning. And you can’t be mad, because they immediately crawl into the box and play peek-a-boo with you and it’s just so damn sweet. Evil geniuses, the whole lot of them. So yeah, just give up.
I don’t say this all to scare you away from having kids. Honestly, I have three of them because they are so damn cool have around. It’s like cable, but funnier and without having to deal with Comcast. They are fun, funny, smart, witty, brilliantly dry when they need to be, and so perfect, despite all their brokenness. And I’m thrilled to have them all. As I type this, I am hearing my son, who is 2, telling my crying 1 year old that it’s okay, that he loves her. And I’m melting into the couch. All that fun stuff above can be dealt with and eventually it all gets better. My 8 year old doesn’t do this stuff and would sleep until noon if we let her. So it’s just a few years of the hard stuff, and even during that hard stuff, you still have pretty cool little versions of you and your spouse to play with and corrupt.
So go forth, be merry, and make babies (just don’t go and be a Dugger… that s$hi+’s ridiculous.) And understand that this is a part of the fun-filled package.