Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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If I Had Known

While I was writing my post yesterday, I looked at those pictures of Jake and Zoe in the snow that I had taken as we walked home from school, and so many thoughts went through my head.  I thought about how innocent and worry-free they seemed, and about the wonderment that children find in the smallest things.  But mostly, as I reflected on the pictures of my kids shuffling languidly in the remaining slushy piles of snow, I thought about how long it takes to physically get anywhere  when you have kids.

This led me to realize how very many things, some small and some life-changing, that I didn't really take into consideration when I was deciding to have children.  In my defense, I couldn't have considered some aspects of parenthood because I just plain didn't know what I was getting into, but also (let's face it) I wasn't really thinking clearly at the time due to the relentless, deafening tick-tock of my biological clock ringing in my ears constantly.  In any case, here are a few things that have occurred to me in hindsight, which I just didn't fully absorb prior to taking the plunge; if you're a parent, maybe you can relate.  And if you're thinking of becoming a parent... well, just ignore 90% of this post.

1.  You will never be on time for anything again.  Ever.

I know I just touched on this, but it bears repeating: kids make getting from point A to point B take roughly 3,000 times longer than it took before you had kids.  Why?  Because kids are never, ever, ever, ever  in a hurry (that is, unless there will be sugar, a toy department, and/or Santa Claus at the destination).  Take the pics from yesterday for example; they're so typical.  All the snow had melted from the roads and sidewalks, so naturally both the kids insisted on avoiding the boring old sidewalk, and opted instead to walk through the snow-covered grass - s.l.o.w.l.y. - with extra loitering occurring around the edges of driveways, where melting piles of snow that had been shoveled into heaps particularly grabbed their interest.  When I told them to stay off of peoples' lawns, they splashed through every sidewalk puddle they could find, stopping to inspect lost pennies and pick up sticks (which were then used to stab the snow).

I asked them why they wouldn't just walk on the dry sidewalk, and they both replied emphatically, "This is so much more fun!"  Yes, to a kid, sloshing through two inches of slush because you want to test out the invincibility of your boots is considered the adventure of a lifetime.  Get used to it, and try not to promise to be anywhere at any certain time for the next 18 years or so.

2.  Your brain is no longer your own.

There once was a time when I had phone numbers memorized.  I knew things like who wrote Moby Dick and how to mix an Apple Martini.  I could converse relatively intelligently about several topics, including grown-up things like architecture and biological neuroscience.  I almost always wore matching socks.

Then I had children, and my brain was flooded with a new variety of information - and lots of it - all at once, and it hasn't stopped yet.  Like a woman on a slowly sinking ship, for years I've been tossing out bucketfuls of any knowledge that isn't absolutely necessary for survival in order to make room for the new stuff pouring in.  Out went two semesters of organic chemistry, replaced with organic baby food recipes.  The spot that used to allow me to converse passably in German is now occupied by the names of Pokemon characters.  While I once could recite Thanatopsis  by William Cullen Bryant, now I have Goodnight Moon memorized cover to cover (case in point: I just had to Google that poem because I couldn't remember the name of it or who wrote it).  Sometimes I miss having my brain to myself, but I will say that knowing eleventy crafts to make with Popsicle sticks has come in handy on more than one occasion.

3.  There is no such thing as "your stuff" anymore.

Before you have kids, you get to decide where things belong in your house, and once you put them there, they stay there.  Not only that, but everything you own is pretty much used for its intended purpose.  Not so, once you have kids.  Instead of a neat, organized home filled with stylish belongings that each have a clearly defined purpose, you can expect the following.
  • Sometimes your car keys will be right where you left them.  Sometimes they will inexplicably turn up in the cat's water dish.  You must try not to think about that when you find yourself out of the house and nothing on this earth will keep your baby from screaming like she's being forced to watch Jersey Shore except being allowed to chew on your keyring.
  • The thing that used to be your purse suddenly becomes little more than a fashionable garbage receptacle for Kid Trash.  When you reach into your purse for a pen, all you'll find instead will be a cheap toy from the dentist's office, a broken crayon, used bandaids that your kid claims have sentimental value, and an empty juice pouch that has leaked all over your checkbook.  Also, your pack of gum will be missing.
  • When you vacuum between the cushions of your couch, you will find at least three of the following items, which (if memory serves) people without children rarely encounter: a sticker that's no longer sticky because the back is covered with fuzz, a Lego guy, several thousand unsweetened o-shaped cereal bits, an overdue library book, a half-eaten cereal bar, fragments of a popped balloon, a collection of dried boogers, a permanent marker without the cap on it, Barbie's head, the gum (now chewed) that used to be in your purse, the wrapper from some fruit snacks, and/or a lone dirty sock.
  • You might have, once upon a time, curled up on the couch with your significant other for movie night, but there's no time for that sort of nonsense after you have kids.  Your DVD player won't even get used anymore, unless what's being inserted is either produced by Disney or is a food item, such as American cheese.  A then it really  doesn't get used anymore.

4.  You will have to learn to accept help that isn't helpful.

Maddie "helps" her dad stuff envelopes.
Part of this point is that, starting from a very young age, kids will offer to help you do pretty much everything.  Which is sweet, but let's face facts - most of the time it isn't actually helpful.  When you're washing dishes, spoons will get eaten by the disposal.  When you're folding laundry, T-shirts will be wadded unceremoniously into balls.  When you're baking, entire bottles of vanilla extract will end up in the cookies.  But you have to let them help anyway.  That's just the way it is.  What it lacks in efficiency, it more than makes up for in cuteness.

But you'll also get offers of help from others, and this help you rarely want to accept.  Consider this: before I had children, I waltzed around wearing anything I wanted, eating anything I wanted, and pretty much doing whatever I wanted, and no stranger ever once felt the need to stop me in my tracks and lecture me about how I should dress myself in layers or else I'd get a cold, or about how the snack I was enjoying was probably going to cause some kind of a life-threatening allergy.

However, part of parenthood involves dealing with "helpful" advice doled out by various members of the public who size up whatever information they can glean from glancing briefly at your children, and invariably determine that you're doing something wrong.  For example, let's say you're running late (because you will be) and as a result you have to leave the house with your children wearing a wild assortment of clothing including pajama bottoms, 57 barrettes, a Batman cape, and an undersized tutu.  You can be sure that at some point while you're out, a well-meaning elderly lady will let you know about the clothes drive they're having at her church, which is her way of telling you how disgraceful it is to let your kids run around looking like dirty little starved orphans.  Conversely, if you somehow manage to leave the house with children who are bathed, combed, and appropriately dressed, someone out there will conclude you're probably one of the overbearing moms from Toddlers & Tiaras who forces her 6-year-old to wear lipstick and get spray tans, and they'll consider it their civic duty to grab you by the elbow and lecture you about the importance of letting kids be kids.  Your sole responsibility in these scenarios is to nod politely and refrain from punching these people in the throat.

5.  You are suddenly expected to be The Expert.

This was the scariest one for me.  Before my kids came along I'd never considered the fact that, as a mom, there'd be no denying it - I'd be a Grown Up.  As such, I was supposed to take home a fragile little baby and was suddenly expected to do Grown Up things, like formulate an Emergency Fire Escape Plan for the house, learn infant CPR, remember which end the diaper goes on, and know how to handle situations that I could never in a million years have even dreamed of in my pre-children days.  Your kids will, completely out of the blue, ask you, "Mommy, what if you were in the store and we were in the car and a bad guy starts banging on the window and he starts to get in the car and drive away with us?" - and you had better know the answer without any hesitation  even though you'd never even thought about it until that very second, or else somebody's going to be having nightmares about carjacking for a month.  You have to know how to react when your child loudly proclaims, "Mommy, LOOK, that man is a robot," when a person with a metal prosthetic leg gets in line behind you at the ice cream parlor.  You have to be able to say things like, "Stop hitting your brother in the privates," while in public and  with a straight face, which isn't as easy as it sounds.  It's up to you to decide if your baby will be emotionally scarred for life if you try to feed her pineapple, even though she's just regarded it with a fear and suspicion usually reserved for space aliens.  You have to be a teacher, an ER doctor, a chef, a rabid security dog, a psychologist, a circus clown, and a security blanket, and who knows what you'll need to be after  lunch.  No wonder I wear mismatched socks half the time.

Don't get me wrong - I would never take it back. I've never once regretted having my kids for any reason, even when they're scribbling on the wall in red crayon or throwing up in the backseat of my car. On the contrary, I'm glad   I didn't know this stuff about parenting, because if I had, I'm pretty sure I'd have determined I couldn't handle it and gone out for margaritas instead.  It's daunting, if you think about it.  Good thing I didn't.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!


Leigh Ann said...

Oh these are all so true. The purse especially. It's fun when I reach in for a pen and stick my finger into half a banana that I forgot was in there.

RobynHTV said...

Oooooh yeah - you gotta love it when it's something smushy! And that's usually the day I run out of baby wipes, which explains why I'm always running around with smears of Smushy Purse Stuff on my jeans.

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