Little Things That Prove Parenting Is Not for the Weak
The moment you find out that you're going to be a parent will likely rank in the top-five best moments of your life — someday. The truth is, once you take that bundle of joy home, things start getting real, and you may begin to wonder if there’s a return policy on this whole parenthood thing. Those cute little toothless smiles must be evolution's way of tricking us because, a lot of times, parenting is kind of the worst.
All the Tantrums
Before you were a parent, you likely saw a toddler throw themselves down on the floor of a store and scream until their face was blue. And you thought to yourself, "Wow, what a horrible parent to allow that kind of behavior!"
Now you know these tantrums have nothing to do with the parent and everything to do with the toddler who, apparently, refuses to accept that they have no need for a fourth Queen Elsa dress. So, you let them scream it out as you meet the judgy young person's stare with a "just you wait" smirk.
The Sass Starts Early
People talk about how tough the teenage years are because it seems that, out of the blue, kids develop a real attitude. Apparently, the sass that comes along with the teenage years will make the toddler phase seem like the easiest part of parenting.
Nothing about this is comforting, because kids develop sass long before they reach their teen years. One day your little one is asking to snuggle, and the next they’re kicking you in the shin because you told them "no." That early sass is hard to swallow because it comes with a side of dread.
The Daycare Colds Are Never-ending
It's a struggle to drop your baby off at daycare for the first time. Suddenly you have to trust a stranger to take care of the tiny human that you created from scratch. Then, once you leave them, you'll spend the entire day checking in with the daycare to make sure everything is okay.
Unbeknownst to you, it won't be long before you're back home with that baby, because daycare colds are basically never-ending. You'll eventually wonder why you even pay for daycare because you seem to be home with a sick kid more often than not.
So Much Sleep Deprivation
Whoever came up with the advice to "sleep when the baby sleeps" was clearly not a parent. If they had been, their advice would’ve been more like, "Do whatever you have to do to get some sleep. Sleep on the baby's floor if that's what it takes."
Sleep is hard to come by in the first few months of parenting, but it doesn't end there. The kid can be four years old and still wake up at the crack of dawn, demanding that you feed them and absolutely disregarding the fact that you were asleep.
Screen Time Rules (and Guilt)
The American Academy of Pediatrics is always coming out with new information and research findings when it comes to kids and screen time. There's a lot involved in the guidelines, but the gist is this: Don't let your kids watch TV. Ever.
It's safe to assume that no one at the AAP is actually a parent, because if they were, they'd have a really hard time telling their fellow soldiers to turn off the screen. Sometimes it's the only way you can get a shower, where you'll be racked with guilt over the fact that you're letting your kid watch TV.
Foot Injuries Thanks to Small, Pointy Toys
When you first become a parent, you get so excited over the idea of reliving your childhood with toys like Little People, green Army men and LEGOs. It only takes a couple of late-night walks down the hallway to truly regret gifting your child those toys.
As a parent, you have to just accept that you’ll have wounds on the soles of your feet from toys basically all the time. This is also how you learn to keep your swear words to yourself, because nothing will make you curse like a Barbie shoe to the big toe.
Stains on Every Surface
Before kids, you probably had a few really nice pieces of furniture, and maybe even some clean carpet. Perhaps you made the chic design decision to go with upholstered chairs at your dining table. What a fool you once were.
Now, all of that nice furniture is covered in milk, spit-up, peanut butter and jelly, and ketchup stains. Your couch, which was once a cozy spot in the house, is now adorned with tiny handprints to the point that even the best upholstery cleaners in town can't get it looking like new again — or even kind of new.
Arguing With a Tiny, Illogical Human
There are some things that are just basic common knowledge. You don't eat dog food, you shouldn't try to crawl across gravel and you should never put your mouth on the handle of a shopping cart no matter how nice the store is. Kids, however, lack common knowledge — and sense.
Being a parent means you’re dedicated to spending your days teaching your kids these hard life lessons. You're expected to dry their tears when they find out that trying to ride the cat like a horse ends in a bite mark. "Frustrating" doesn't even begin to describe these little moments.
Cooking Anything Besides Chicken Nuggets
Some parents are obviously wizards because they’re able to get their children to eat anything from lamb chops to a side of vegetables without so much as a peep or complaint. The rest of us muggles dream of a day when we can simply cook something other than chicken nuggets.
It's infuriating to try to introduce new foods to your child. You sit there thinking, "Seriously, just try the pizza because it's going to rock your world once you do!" But still, they'll refuse until you admit defeat and make them the dino-shaped nuggets once again.
It seems like any time you have somewhere to be, your kid will either take the longest nap of their life, requiring you to choose between waking them up or missing the event, or they’ll skip their nap altogether, requiring you to decide if you want to risk taking them in public.
No-nap days will make any parent question their decision to have kids. Somehow, that little 90-minute break in their day can keep a child in a relatively good place. But if for any reason that break is missed, it's like a scene from Children of the Corn.
Saturday Morning Practices and Games
At some point, some grown-ups got together and decided, "Hey, we're all used to sleep deprivation anyway, so why not make all sports practices and games at 7 a.m. on Saturdays?" No one's sure who these grown-ups were that decided this, but everyone hates them.
Just when your kids get to the age where they know how to pour themselves a bowl of cereal, they want to start playing sports. So, because it's frowned upon to hand your car keys over to a fifth grader, you get to wake up and take them. And you have to smile while doing it.
Every now and then, a couple will have a baby who eases into sleeping through the night all on its own. These babies are little angels, and they’re not the standard. Most babies keep waking all night every night until you've had enough and decide to sleep train.
Sleep training is definitely one of the worst parts of parenting. It's high-risk and high-reward, but in order to get to that full night of sleep, you have to sit there and try to distract yourself from the loud cries long enough for your baby to tucker out and fall asleep.
Toys Literally Everywhere
If you're someone who struggles to concentrate in a disorganized environment, then parenting might not be for you. It starts off small: a basket of toys in the corner of the living room. Then, seemingly overnight, it takes over your house.
Sure, it's fun to watch your kid play with their toys, but it's not so fun to wake up in the middle of the night and feel one against your leg because it somehow ended up in your bed. It’s not a joy to pick up a room, only to find it covered in toys within minutes. This will certainly lead to insanity.
Always Having an Audience in the Bathroom
Before parenthood, you probably never considered going to the bathroom as a luxury. In fact, it was probably more of an inconvenience because you had to stop in the middle of whatever you were doing to get up and go. Those were the good old days.
Now, privacy is a thing of the past, because even if you lock the bathroom door, someone will be banging on the other side of it, asking you when you're coming out. Not long after that, you'll see fingers poking under the door and an eye trying to look in. Parenthood in a nutshell.
Attempting to Travel
Remember traveling before kids and getting jealous that families with small children got to board the plane early, giving them access to as much overhead storage space as they needed? Back then, you probably didn't notice that, by the time you were boarding, those families still weren't settled.
Now you know why families get extra time to board and get early access to overhead storage. It's because even major airlines pity us. We have to drag a child, car seat, stroller and luggage into a tiny space and keep the kid occupied throughout the flight. It's the least they can do.
Paying for Childcare (or Staying Home Full-time)
Having a baby means — at least for two-parent families — that one parent has to make the decision whether or not to keep their job and pay for daycare or stay home full-time. Unless you have a really nice grandparent nearby. In which case, the rest of us kind of hate you.
It's extremely difficult to weigh all of the factors that go into this decision. Which parent has the job with the best health insurance? Does one of you want to stay home? Is your company flexible enough to offer part-time hours? By the time you've decided, you're exhausted and haven't even started touring daycare centers yet.
Scheduling Life Around Naptime
Naptime is crucial for parents. It takes something very, very important for us to actively schedule things during naptime. In fact, a lot of us would rather hire a sitter to come to the house while the baby naps than mess up their sleep schedule for just about anything.
This is apparently something everyone forgets when their kids grow out of the nap stage (or if they don't have kids themselves). So, you get to be the person who asks for an earlier Christmas dinner or the jerk who declines the invitation altogether so your child can nap. So fun!
Constant Parent Guilt
Donna and Tom, from Parks and Rec, had one day a year when they'd treat themselves to anything they wanted without feeling guilty about it, no matter how unnecessary or expensive. Parents wish they could feel that way about taking a shower while the other parent does the bedtime routine solo.
Parent guilt may be the worst part of having a kid. Things that were no-brainers before suddenly inflict guilt. Even a $5 coffee feels like a splurge when your child is growing so fast that they’re wearing pants that are too small. Even though you just bought them yesterday.
Why humans haven't evolved to the point where we know how to use the bathroom from the moment we’re born is a mystery. With all the technology and medical advances, can't this be something that experts start working on? Is it so much to ask?
Changing diapers is not only gross, for obvious reasons, but it's also expensive! You have to constantly replenish diapers and baby wipes, only to do it again next week (unless you go with cloth). This madness goes on for almost three years, per child. There must be something that can be done!
Ever-changing Car Seat Standards
Staying up to date with the ever-changing safety guidelines for kids is difficult, but a lot of those recommendations seem easy to ignore if they don't pose a life-threatening risk (looking at you, screen time). Car seats, however, are an entirely different monster.
What was the safest car seat when you had your first baby is considered a death trap by the time you have your second baby two years later. The guidelines change so often that you may not even know you're putting your kid at risk — that is until Judgy Jenny tells you all about it at daycare drop-off.
Never Getting to Watch Your Own TV Shows
Remember the day your little one finally sat still long enough to watch 15 full minutes of TV, giving you a much-needed break? It was the best feeling. Then, before you knew it, they were snuggling up next to you watching all your favorite Disney movies.
Flash-forward a year, and now you've seen those Disney movies no fewer than a thousand times. And your youngster found an obscure (and annoying) show they love on Netflix. No matter what, though, ever since that day you got a 15-minute break, you haven't watched a single episode of your favorite shows on that TV.
Potty training is a huge milestone for children and their parents. Finally, the day has come when you’re confident that your little one can understand how and when to use the toilet, and you can get rid of that "diaper" line item in your monthly budget.
Oh hey. Wait a minute. First you have to actively teach your child how to use the toilet, and it only takes a couple "accidents" before you realize all that money you thought you'd be saving will now be going towards a carpet shampooer. There’s no such thing as rest when it comes to parenting.
Cleaning Up Wall "Art"
It only takes one mishap to learn the importance of hiding any and all Sharpie markers and only investing in crayons, paint and/or markers that are 100% washable. Even this doesn't guarantee that you won't have mishaps. It just means that you'll be able to clean them up.
When cleaning up these little masterpieces, you also get the joy of trying to stifle your anger, using the moment as a teachable lesson and complimenting your child on their creativity. So, basically, you're still scrubbing the wall until the paint starts to chip off. It's just for a different reason.
Longing to Read Anything Other Than Dr. Seuss
Once upon a time, you got to read any book you wanted, any time you wanted to. Now, you have a stack of books sitting on your bedside table that are collecting dust and are (more than likely) parenting how-to books, not your normal genre of choice.
Those parenting books would still be a refreshing break from reading the same children's book over and over all day, every day. Kids love repetition, and it's completely normal for them to want to hear the same story every night. It's just a shame that it comes at the price of your sanity.
School Spirit Week
Whoever the daycare director is that decided the one thing missing from busy parents' schedules is spirit week needs to be fired immediately. It's hard enough to remember a packed lunch every day, let alone some theme that requires parent organization and/or participation.
Yes, kids are cute with "crazy hair" or their favorite superhero shirts, but you know what's not cute? When one little kid is left out because their parent had to get them out the door in time to make it to work for a mandatory meeting. Now they're both in tears over Wacky Wednesday.
Crumbs in Every Crevice
Before kids, a Ritz cracker was simply a buttery treat, and a Goldfish cracker was just a quick and easy snack for a little extra energy. After kids, these are the physical manifestations of the reason vacuums were invented.
It's kind of remarkable the amount of damage one child can do with a handful of Goldfish crackers. All they have to do is crumble them, just a little, and it's like a fish massacre. Ten years from now, you'll still be finding little bits of the trademark orange crumbs in your couch — assuming your kids haven't destroyed it before then.
Going From One to Two Kids
Once you make it through the baby phase, it's easy to get a little cocky as a parent. You got one child to sleep through the night, learn to eat solid foods and learn to walk without faceplanting, so you can totally do it again. And your kid will have a lifelong playmate!
One child is a piece of the most delicious cake, ever, compared to two. Adding another kid means you're dealing with two developing minds (which are at completely different levels) and two opposite nap schedules, all in the name of giving your first one a sibling.
So. Many. Poop. Jokes.
At a certain age, children learn that some words get a reaction from their parents. Kids love a good reaction, especially laughter. That's when the poop jokes start coming. At first, it's really funny and you have no problem leaning in and laughing right along with your kid. Then, the public poop jokes start.
There's nothing that can prepare you for the moment you’re walking through a crowded Target with your child, who suddenly, out of nowhere, yells something about poop. That's the moment those jokes stop being funny (well, for you — your fellow Target shoppers will definitely laugh).
The Crash After a Sugar High
If there's one thing a parent can count on, it's a grandparent, aunt, uncle or well-meaning teacher giving their kid some candy every now and then. It starts out innocently enough — just a couple M&Ms. Then, before you know it, your kid has learned the glory of candy.
You can no longer steal their Halloween candy to give them a little at a time. Now, your child binges on it until their belly hurts and you have to manage the sugar-crash aftermath. This is when you start wondering how to convince your child that they’re allergic to candy.
Constantly Wondering If You're Doing It Right
Parenting is messy, crazy, frustrating, infuriating, exhausting, embarrassing and just about every other thing you can think of. Still, even on your kid's worst days, the hardest part of being a parent is wondering if you're doing it right — or at least well enough that they won't end up talking about you in therapy in 20 years.
As much as those tiny humans tap dance on your nerves, you love them with everything you have. Every parent just wants to raise their kid to be happy and fulfilled, and that's a big job for even the most "grown-up" grown-up.