Okay, actually it’s 13 months because I had weeks of catching up to do.
But there you have it. One year (plus) of livin’ in the Mommy 'hood. A year of burp-rags and poop-filled diapers. A year of surprises. And yes, sometimes poop is the surprise.
You know how there’s this whole joke about babies not coming with a manual? LAME! There are a gazillion books about pregnancy and birth and then everyone stands around and goes “boy, I really wish that they had a manual for babies!” What the hell man!? I spent half the year googling “is [insert behavior/strange physical manifestation] normal?” A book would have been really handy.
And there ARE books out there on childcare and development and all that other stuff that you might want to know about. But no one ever gives those books to you. No. They gift you with a dozen books on pregnancy and then it’s up to you, in your sleep-deprived, manic-new-parent way to wonder how long does projectile spit-up last and when, exactly, should one begin to worry.
I went with the old stand-by: until there’s blood, there’s no problem.
I still really could have used a book, though.
Here are some things that I’ve learned over the year. Some of which came as a surprise.
1) Whatever annoying behavior your child has, he or she will soon grow out of it. And develop an even MORE annoying behavior.
2) Poop is just gross. It never gets any easier, in fact it gets worse, but you do get better at holding your breath.
3) Why the hell did people keep going on and on about doing Kegels? Push-ups, people, PUSH-UPS! You can wear panty-liners or Depends, but if you have weak arm muscles, you are in for a world of pain when you have to hold that baby for a few hours. And you WILL have to hold the baby for hours at a time.
4) The reason that you lose so much weight while breast-feeding is not because your fat is magically transformed into milk. No, it’s because you end up trapped on the couch, nursing, while your dinner goes cold and then is eaten by the cat. You miss a lot of meals while breastfeeding.
5) When you are pregnant, you always have to pee. You get very good at holding it and being uncomfortable until you can get to a toilet. This is good practice because you will always have to pee while breastfeeding and you’ll just have to hold it until the baby a) falls asleep and you can hand her off to someone b) decides he’s done eating and is ready to play. Either of these scenarios can also end with you holding a sleeping baby or a baby who is determined to beat you senseless with a stuffed bear WHILE YOU PEE.
6) When I was little, I imagined what it would be like if I had no hands. (Didn’t everybody? No?) I taught myself to write (badly) with my feet. Just in case. Turns out this was great training for parenting. Almost everything can be done one handed. This does NOT include putting on a watch. Try as I might, I cannot put on my watch while holding my child.
7) At some point, you realize that you are missing too many meals and start making your child more food than they need, just so you can eat the leftovers.
7b) Baby food tastes better than I thought.
8) There is nothing better in the whole wide world than when your child wraps their chubby little arms around your neck and gives you a hug.
9) The three-second rule* becomes the three-day rule and I’ve decided that cat food can’t possibly be that bad, it hasn’t killed the cat, so it shouldn’t kill the child either.
*Wherein you can eat food that you’ve dropped as long as it has been on the ground for less than three-seconds. Not applicable in every situation.
10) Every “when I’m a parent I’ll never…” promise has been broken. If fact, I’ll guarantee that if you say, “When I’m a parent I’ll never…” you WILL. It’s like the Murphy’s Law of parenting. Better not to verbalize what you won’t do. People who have kids WILL CONTINUE give this advice to people without children and those people WILL CONTINUE to say, “When I’m a parent I’ll never…” It’s a vicious cycle. It will never end.
11) Being a parent has not made me less selfish or a better person. I’m just too tired to give a crap about looking pretty.
12) Having a child is like wearing a huge sign saying, “Please make snap judgments about me based on the performance of a small, willful, cranky human being with impulse-control issues.”
13) I have discovered a vast reservoir of patience that I never knew I had. Unfortunately, the husband and the cat cannot tap it. Neither can the stupid old people who pull out right in front of me when I need to get somewhere and DON’T THEY KNOW THAT MY CHILD IS SCREAMING IN THE BACK SEAT?? DIE, YOU GREY HAIRED BIDDIES, DIE!
14) I do amazing impressions of dogs, cats, sheep, cows, roosters and pigs. Geese, on the other hand. Geese are impossible.
15) Everything is more important than shaving your legs. However, you should trim your toenails because it’s faster and easier to do than darning socks.
16) So far the weirdest thing I’ve had to do as a parent is hold my girl’s hands and whisper encouraging words while she has a particularly difficult poop. Constipation is a BITCH and I would stab it in the eye if I could.
16b) Prunes work wonders. And now you’ve been warned.
17) Buttons on baby clothes are the work of the devil. After a child reaches 6 months of age, no buttons should be in use until they learn how to sit still again… approximately age 18. Also, after six months, Velcro is a dumb idea. “Hey let’s put something that makes an interesting noise and is easy to use on this article of clothing! We’ll put it here where it’s easy for the child to reach! And we’ll put soft, fluffy, decorations all around it for the Velcro to also stick to!” Who the hell designs this stuff anyway?
18) There comes a day when you realize that your child is smarter than your cat or dog. Suddenly, you can no longer assume “out of sight, out of mind” and you have to remember that they have opposable thumbs. The only safe place for your valuables is in a locked trunk at the bottom of the sea. Until they learn to swim. Which they will, clever little monkeys.
19) Develop the “ah, how interesting” face - slight smile, slight lift of the eyebrows, slight nod of the head. Non-committal and non-confrontational. You need it for Judgy McJudgersens and it will probably come in handy when your child reaches puberty.
20) I look forward to doing things and seeing things even more because the Spawn will be part of it. It’s like the whole world has been made new again! It's amazing and awesome.