The other night I used a sandwich bag as a makeshift glove to fish poop from the bathtub. As I did this, I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror, and I almost laughed outloud. I looked ridiculous, ferrying fistfuls of crap from the bathtub to the toilet.
If only there were a magic mirror to show this image to my twenty-something self, I thought. She would probably laugh, dump her boyfriend, and open a bottle of wine. Not that I regret a moment of this, literal, shit-show, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to have a few kids.
Parenthood is riddled with moments that make your heart swell. Moments that cause you to smile in awe, as you gaze lovingly at those tiny humans you created—from scratch! You feel every warm emotion all at once, and think, “I will tell my grandkids this story one day.”
Well, those moments are the reality of parenting, but only about 20% of the time. The other 80% is a terrifying social experiment that you silently pray everyone survives. And I do mean everyone—you, the neighbors, the cat, even the bystanders at Target.
Oh, parenthood, you fickle, fickle beast.
The majority of my friends don’t have kids, but often ask about my life as a parent. I tell them about my kids, and we laugh about the craziness of life since my arrival in “the land of never-ending snacks requests”—Ha. Ha. Ha.
I humor them with my stories, or maybe they humor me by listening. Either way, every story feels a bit like a scripted cliche, because there is really no way to explain parenthood. For one, it’s not the same experience for everyone, and two, you just can’t—for the same reason you can’t explain why any of the Kardashians are famous. It just doesn’t really make sense when you say it outloud.
While there is no way to explain it, there are some pretty obvious indicators you are no longer living in the land of freedom and spontaneity.
For example, you might be a parent if…
1. You can make a grocery list, plan dinner for the week, and decide on a Pinterest-worthy party favor, all while in the shower.
2. You have ever Oprah-cried when you realize you’re out of coffee.
3. You’re not as bothered by “golden showers” as you used to be (especially if you are a boy-mom).
4. You change bed linens at 3 a.m. more frequently than you do during normal waking hours.
5. You have ever used a Q-tip, tweezers or a hair-pin to explore someone’s nasal cavity in search of a crayon.
6. You have ever caused someone to sob uncontrollably by saying the words green beans.
7. You have ever discussed who has what type of genitalia over dinner— including extended family and grandparents.
8. All of your furniture, rugs and curtains have stains and/or teeth marks on them.
9. Part of your morning routine includes a reminder about not licking other people or things.
10. You have ever ruined someone’s entire day by breaking their granola bar.
11. Dirty clothes are everywhere except in the hamper.
12. You have ever abandoned a delicious, hot meal to visit a public restroom.
13. You know the location of every public restroom in the tri-county area, and which ones are too dirty to enter—I’m looking at you, Wal-Mart!
14. Your odds of winning the lottery are higher than finishing a meal.
15. You are known to have mid-sentence outbursts when speaking to friends. “I’m so sorry, to hear about your aunt Wanda. GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH! She was such a sweet lady. My condolences.”
16. You have ever felt a little rage-y when you hear someone say, “My kids never did that.”
17. Your entire existence is woven carefully around nap time.
18. You have ever discovered something that made you gag while cleaning your home.
19. Dinner is more about hostage negotiations than nutrition.
20. You have ever celebrated a bowel movement.
There it is, parenthood, in a nutshell. Maybe that doesn’t paint the clearest picture, but whatever, parenthood is messy. Just like my house.