Every time we brought one of our five babies home, no matter how they came to us (two we grew, three we adopted) people wanted to give us advice.
The one heard most often was “sleep when the baby sleeps.” That is sensible, I guess, and is good to do if you don’t have a laundry list of shit you’re trying to get done or, you know, four other kids to take care of.
I noticed that all the pointers are geared for babies and toddlers. After that, what? We’re supposed to have figured it all out and just know what to expect? Where were the tips for after those first few years?
I never got any, so I’m going to share some with you.
1 | Think long and hard before making their lives any more magical.
I know the urge to sprinkle glitter and cut out tooth-shaped notes from the Tooth Fairy is difficult to resist. But ask yourself: Am I always going to have the time, energy and clean white paper to keep this up? Will I have green food coloring at 11pm on March 16th every year? Will I?
2 | You’re going to keep finding shit in weird places, man.
This does not stop when they graduate preschool. Cheese in the cabinet, a plastic driedel in your kid’s pillowcase in July, cat food in winter boots when you haven’t even had a cat in two years, rocks everywhere. EVERY. WHERE.
3 | If you can’t stand the car filth but don’t feel like dragging the vacuum cleaner and extension cords outside, I’ve got the solution.
Open all the doors and point the leaf blower under the seats. Turn it on. Then just pick garbage up from driveway and let the dog or squirrels eat the crumbs and French fries. Voila!
4 | Everything you made fun of your parents for is going to come back to haunt you now.
As I once mercilessly teased my mother for always having food stuck in her teeth, so now I have food in my teeth and my daughter teases me. That’s what we call a legacy.
5 | Take a tip from Pavlov and train yourself: every time you find yourself thinking, “I’ll remember that” learn to just open your “notes” on your smart phone and write it down.
(Also be prepared to maybe forget anyway)
6 | The exhaustion doesn’t go away.
I’m sorry if I’m the first one to break that news to you. You parents of infants out there remember how awesome sleeping through the night was, right? It’s really awesome. So are afternoon power naps until infinity.
7 | Speaking of naps–you might not want to do so in the nude.
(I am not saying this because I’m prudish—au contraire! When I was a kid my Mom bought me a “Smile if you’re a Streaker” pin but I could never wear it because that’d require putting clothes on first. Then I grew up and pushed two people out of my vagina while other people watched. So trust me, this is not a modesty concern.)
It’s just that you become stupid tired when you’re a parent. And even if you’re the Queen of the fifteen-minute power nap–on the day you decide to take off your nice clothes, nap nude and get changed afterwards is the day you’ll nap forty minutes and wake up to the school bus outside honking. While you’re inside. And you’re naked.
8 | Murphy’s Law is Mom’s Law*.
Which is how things like the naked napping incident could happen. Of course I knew that before that fateful day and I had even written down but . . . see the end of #5.
9 | You know how when you’re out and about with your diapered babies and potty trainers you learn where all the public toilets are in a thirty-mile radius?
If you’re a lady, you may want to retain that information or begin stockpiling Depends.
10 | Make rules.
Stick to them. Change when needed. Viva La Evolucion!
*Dad’s Law, too, but that lacks alliteration.