April 29, 2008

As A Parent

A few coworkers and I were chatting about our kids yesterday. We found ourselves doing so in front of a single coworker who just listened in horror. It got me thinking about the culture shock - for lack of a better term - that you go through when you become a parent.

As a parent you will do more laundry than a convicted felon and you won't even get the fifteen cents an hour for cigarettes.

As a parent you'll get vomited on, pooped on and peed on. This would normally strike you as disgusting if any of these bodily fluids were delivered by a random stranger however since it's your kid, you won't much care. But it'll still be a little gross.

As a parent you will learn that there is absolutely no owner's manual for your child nor is there any such thing as a guide book for parenting. The honest to god truth? You make it up as you go along and hope you don't fuck them up too bad.

As a parent you learn that planning is completely and utterly unnecessary because planning implies expectations and plans rarely succeed. Allow an hour at minimum to get our of your house. You will most likely make it out of the house more than once a day. Some days you won't even get out of your pajamas. These are not failures. They're life.

As a parent you will become one of those insanely annoying people that you, at an earlier time in your life, hated because you were tired of hearing about how cute all the shit their kids did was. You will actually find yourself ending stories by saying "it was the cutest thing ever" after describing something mundane your kids did. Then you'll want to open a vein with a bendy straw. But you won't.

As a parent your once hip music collection will become littered with albums by characters that are essentially socks with hands up their asses. This is not nearly as offensive as your child's desire to listen to these records approximately 3,290 times a day in rapid succession.

As a parent you will, on occasion, find yourself muttering something along the lines of how did I get here? The meaning can be either good, as in oh my god how did I end up with this awesome kid or bad like how the fuck did I get myself into this? Being a parent is dynamic and ever-changing. You'll snap out of either fairly quickly.

As a parent you will enter a vortex into which time virtually disappears. Blink and a week has passed or your kid turns two. Some days you will wish it would go faster. Don't. You might regret it.

As a parent you will wonder what you did with your time before you had a kid and while you might miss that from time to time, you won't mourn its loss.

As a parent you will spend more time talking about poop than you would have ever imagined. I mean, poop will seriously dominate the majority of your conversations for a time. Sometimes you'll actually find yourself talking about poop with complete strangers. Then you'll feel a little stupid.

As a parent you will feel as if you were pulled to sea in a rip tide, swallowed by the surf, spit out on the sand and life was breathed back into you with unimaginable force, filling your lungs and expanding your chest. You will be humbled by your own power to create life and wonder what the hell you were waiting for. When you see that child pulled into the world covered with sticky good and crying for the first time, you might, despite your disbelief in a god, see his face in the existence of your child.

Posted by Chris at April 29, 2008 6:12 AM

Absolutely wonderful post. You speak the truth. I will be linking from my site!

Posted by: Josh at April 29, 2008 6:27 AM

You forgot that it's all worth it.

Posted by: harrylips at April 29, 2008 7:00 AM

Great post.

As a parent I always hate when some parent further along starts a sentence with “Just wait until…”, so I won’t.

Standby for the future event of…some boy looking at your girl the same way you used to look at girls and the fear of prison showers is the only thing that keeps you from strangling his little throat.

Posted by: Bob at April 29, 2008 7:45 AM

Beautiful, Chris.

Might I add, that, as a parent, you will love someone more (and in a different way) than you ever thought it was possible to love.

You will also learn the true meaning of sleep deprivation :-)

Posted by: Alissa at April 29, 2008 7:54 AM

Well said, sir. Well said.

Posted by: SciFi Dad at April 29, 2008 7:59 AM

Beautiful post...

And the thing is, you never even realize that this whole world is out there, so amazing, until you have these kids and then wham - life changes and some days you feel like you just can't pull it off, and somedays your two year old looks at you, gives you a mammoth hug, plants repeated kisses on your face and tells you, "I love you with my whole heart" just like you say when you tuck her in at night every night, and you realize she's listening, she's absorbing and she's giving everything you ever gave her, right back to you. Ah. (Yes, I was having a rough week til my 2 year old smooched on me this morning!).

Posted by: sarah at April 29, 2008 8:01 AM


::small tear::

Posted by: claire at April 29, 2008 8:07 AM

Gee thanks Chris!! Being 31-weeks pregnant this has given me a WHOLE new insight... and just a wee bit of fear...
Luckily from reading all your other posts I KNOW its all worth it!

Posted by: Stephanie at April 29, 2008 8:08 AM

Wait, does this mean you are going to start doing laundry?

Posted by: Mrs. Cactus at April 29, 2008 8:28 AM

(Sniff, sniff, sob) Okay you got me crying this morning. This was one of the most beautiful posts you have ever written. I'm going to save it, okay? I want to be able to give it to my daughter when she decides to have kids. (Well she's decided she wants them, just has to find Mr. Right)
Mr. Cactus, you are, indeed, talented!

Posted by: Maribeth at April 29, 2008 8:41 AM

Very well said, indeed!

Posted by: oddmix at April 29, 2008 8:47 AM

All of your posts make me smile, most make me laugh, some make me cry. Sometimes you post something that does all three. This was one of those. Thank you.

Posted by: Teresa at April 29, 2008 8:48 AM

Totally cracked up when I came to poop conversation bit. So true! I don't have kids yet, but my BF has two of them, and there have been times when the response to, How are you today? was regaling the odd coloration and consistency of her child's crapper.

I look forward to the time when I can have conversations like that of my own. Even though we still are childless, I'm less horrified and more amazed and envious when I hear other parents having conversations like the one you described.

Posted by: C-Rah at April 29, 2008 9:20 AM

YOU MADE ME CRY! Today is Summer's 3rd birthday, and since she is my baby this really sent me over the edge. Sometimes when they are whining about what "theeeeey waaaaaant to wear todaaaaaay" (a hot pink leotard) I have to take a deep breath and remmember that sooner than later they will just sneak the pink leotard in their bookbag and change at school, and then tell their friends how dumb I am and how I "just don't understand them". My babies are growing up! Boo Hoo!

Lovely post! Thanks for making me cry!!!

Posted by: Mymilabean at April 29, 2008 9:28 AM

Beautiful post! Since having my daughter two years ago, I don't think I've gone a day without talking about poop.

Posted by: Keri at April 29, 2008 9:34 AM

Oh great. I did not want to start off the day in tears, Mister.

In all seriousness? WONDERFUL post.
I never wanted kids. Loved them, as long as they belonged to someone else. Then I bought a house, got married, and one day we were sitting outside having coffee, and he looked at me and said "I feel like somethings missing ..." And I knew instantly what he meant. So I walked inside and threw my bc pills in the trash.

Now, my Maya is a few months away from her second birthday and I wonder how I ever lived without her. She has shown me what it is like to really live, and to love in ways that I never imagined.


Posted by: Jen at April 29, 2008 9:53 AM

I hope I get to become a parent someday because all of these things sounds fantastic.

Posted by: Poppy at April 29, 2008 10:05 AM

"As a parent you will learn that there is absolutely no owner's manual for your child nor is there any such thing as a guide book for parenting. The honest to god truth? You make it up as you go along and hope you don't fuck them up too bad."

God, YES. Whenever I hear someone say that they are a bad parent (and I'm guilty of it myself), I want to slap them across the face. We are all bad parents. We all make bad choices. But the good choices we make, everyday, the ones that work for our families ... those should be compiled and bound together in a leather bound book and handed out like candy in the maternity ward.

It's worth it though ... until the talking back starts, at any rate. ;0

Posted by: moo at April 29, 2008 10:07 AM

It's all so true Chris.

Posted by: chatty cricket at April 29, 2008 10:12 AM

The most shocking bit of it all, for me, is that you will read about other kids poop...and be amused as hell by it.

Posted by: Mr Lady at April 29, 2008 11:15 AM

heh... you said "records"...

Posted by: Tori at April 29, 2008 1:33 PM

Never, before becoming a parent, did I ever think that I would sniff another human being's butt as a matter of course several times a day. Babies will do that to you. And it's amazing how commonplace and normal it seems after a while. Now that neither of the girls needs diaper changing, it's a skill (pastime? job?) that I've dropped. Which is probably for the good of all concerned.

Lovely post, Chris.

Posted by: alison at April 29, 2008 2:47 PM

So very true and so well written.

Posted by: Nadine at April 29, 2008 2:50 PM

I actually blogged and used a picture (a small picture...) about my 2 year olds poop. Not sure others appreciate my post the way I do...but they read it and even leave comments. heh. It's all good..so was your post! Good job daddy~

Posted by: Michele at April 29, 2008 3:30 PM

I have no idea about any of that as I am happily not a parent, but I still think it sounded really lovely!

Posted by: Kelly M. at April 29, 2008 4:01 PM

Beautifully written and so very true. The poop thing had me laughing so hard and remembering the moment of projectile poop in my house. It. Shot. Across. The. Room. I wouldn't trade a second of it.

Posted by: SassyPants at April 29, 2008 4:20 PM

This really struck a chord with me..."As a parent you learn that planning is completely and utterly unnecessary because planning implies expectations and plans rarely succeed".

I think that's where ALL my parenting issues/troubles come from. Expectations & plans that don't get met. Thank you Chris a light bulb has gone off in my head and now that I am aware of this I might just be able to change things and not get so frustated.

Life changing I tells ya. Thank you for sharing.

Posted by: Beth at April 29, 2008 10:07 PM

Good post. However, we refused to purchase any kids music. no wiggles. no Raffi. There was a For The Kids but even that... the boy was raised on a steady diet of Rock 'n Roll...

And poop -- makes it seems less gross when we talk about during the long runs.

Posted by: Nat at April 29, 2008 10:23 PM

All so true and Amen and Hallelluah! You've said it quite beautifully. And I still carry extra underwear in my purse for the poop-tastrophes that happen even at age 6...

Posted by: Amy at April 29, 2008 10:55 PM

well, I excell at talking about poop, so my confidence in my (someday) parenting skills is at an all time high. thanks, Chris!

Posted by: Vaguely Urban at April 30, 2008 12:35 AM

Most single friends don't even understand the concept of waking up... _FOR SOMEONE ELSE'S NEEDS_

...especially the single friends who don't become parents until mid to late 30's. Most of them have spent 30 years taking care of #1, so their habits are pretty well entrenched.

Posted by: whall at April 30, 2008 3:07 AM

Yes, you spend 20+ years of your life avoiding vomit in all its forms, only to create a little person who vomits in your ear. And you don't mind. Well, not that much.

Posted by: Loth at April 30, 2008 5:58 AM

Absolutely lovely post. Save it for when they're 13 and you KNOW they are not going to live to see 18. Also, keep a bottle of wine or some other spirit in the house AT ALL TIMES. You will know what to do with it when the time comes.

For some reason, my husband was the one who suffered the poop mishaps. My first child pooped on his $80 Nordstroms shirt, and it was the 2-month-old yellowish breast milk poop. My second child, whilst being tossed up in the air, barfed into his daddy's open mouth. Both children peed repeatedly on him. My only embarassing body liquid that I ever had to deal with was the constantly leaking breast milk.

Posted by: Peggi at May 1, 2008 1:08 AM