(Previously published on parentsociety.com: http://www.parentsociety.com/parenting/my-8-most-egregious-pre-parenthood-myths/)
Think back, however far you need to, to those starry-eyed, ignorance-laden, pre-parenthood days. Remember when all your friends and relatives with kids were whining about how their lives had changed, how they hadn’t seen a movie since the mid-90s, how they couldn’t remember a year in which they weren’t changing someone’s diaper, how they had to start scheduling sex on the calendar between ballet practice and the orthodontist? Admit it, you’d listen to their plight and then think to yourself, “Not me; I’m not letting my life go down the tubes.” And then baby arrives; and without warning you find yourself fully enmeshed in “the tubes.”
In my pre-parenthood naïveté, I was positive about several things; and in hindsight I have to thank my girlfriends who already had kids for not falling off their chairs chortling. Like good girlfriends, they just smiled, sipped their merlot quietly and inwardly said, “How cute. Now, let the learning begin.”
1. I’ll keep my schedule
This one I was adamant about. I wasn’t going to alter going to dinner, or going to an art gallery, or traveling just because we were now parents. Our child would just have to “learn” to accommodate Mommy and Daddy’s interests. I mean, how many times was I dragged into a boring old bookstore when I was a kid?
So when our daughter was about four-months-old, we went out to dinner with friends. After putting up with the requisite cooing and being passed around, our darling little daughter decided to throw a fit of monumental proportions, involving all manner of bellowing and multiple shades of purple. Our response initially was to try to calm the screaming banshee, singing, rocking, taking outside, begging, pleading, but the decibels just increased. So, instead, we just stuffed our food in, tucked tail, grabbed the stroller, and ran. Of course, on the five-minute walk to the car, she fell asleep, but we figured it wasn’t worth risking a relapse of purple, so we went home.
2. I’ll keep up my looks
This one’s just laughable. When “get a shower” becomes the highlight of your day, and often an impossible one at that, sometimes you have to just accept that there will be days without highlights, not to mention hair brushes. In which case, “pee” and “brush teeth” become just as welcome.
3. I won’t talk baby-talk
Yes you will, and you will love it. It may not be the annoying “Who’s my wittle cuddwy wuddwy baby waby?” (and let’s all hope not), but you’ll have your own baby-speak and silly voices and exclamations of delight over a good morning poo. Just accept it.
4. My child will sleep through the night by day 8
If he does, tell me how you did it! Write a book! Makes millions! For the rest of us, accept the sleepless nights and ask for help before you find yourself sleeping in the shower with your socks on.
5. I won’t have the screaming child
I always figured that if my child decided to have a meltdown while I was shopping or out in public, I would calmly and quickly remove her from the area so as to not bother other people. Of course, I didn’t factor in standing in line to buy groceries, or being stuck on a plane, or being on a tour of the Royal Albert Hall in London. Apparently meltdowns don’t always happen at convenient-slip-away points.
6. I won’t bribe my child into good behavior
This one’s a toughy, but often out of sleeplessness, exhaustion or mere frustration, you may find yourself reaching for the “have a cookie/pony/lifesize-Millenium-Falcon” card, but stay strong. The last thing this world needs is another spoiled child. Now, who’s turn is it to feed our pony?
7. I won’t cuss in front of my child
Try driving in Kuwait without cussing. Not possible. But other than that, there are lots of life events that may cause a *bleep* to slip out. Don’t flagellate yourself, but work on changing the behavior before baby starts soaking it in. The last thing you want is for Grandma to overhear her first grandchild say, “Where are my $&*(@#*! rainboots?”
8. Our sex life won’t change
Sex life? Um, yeah, right. I think I need to re-address points #2 and #4 before reviving #8. But I hear that once the child is in high school, things are back to normal. Only fourteen years to go, dear!