There's no doubt about it -- the parenting books seem to leave out the scariest parts of parenting. I get it, freaking out a pregnant chick is not the best thing to do, but making a new first-time parent think parenting is easy if you follow the steps in the book is crap, too!
In an effort to do the job the parenting books failed to do, below I've listed 10 Things the Parenting Books Don't Tell You.
1. Sleep. Say goodbye to sleep! At least, a solid eight hours. I remember living for the time when my baby "slept through the night." Silly me, from 6 weeks on I prayed every night would be the night my infant slept through the night. My child is 3; he has yet to sleep through the night, in his bed.
2. Clean surfaces. No matter how hard I try. No matter how fast I clean up a mess. No matter how diligent I am about clean hands, and limiting sticky foods, EVERY surface in my house, right down to the windows, is covered in tiny little fingerprints.
3. Stickers are the enemy. Let's just say the day your child learns about stickers is the day you learn to check your butt before leaving the house. OK, well, it should be. Because I'm here to tell you, nothing is more awesome than your husband coming home and peeling TWO stickers off your a**. Especially when you too have just walked in the door.
4. Goodbye, clean car. I don't care if you're a stickler about not eating in the car -- your child will still find a way to destroy it. From toys that make sounds every time you turn a corner, to stickers on the windows, to muddy footprints on the seats, your car will never be the same once that car seat goes in.
5. Couples date nights turn into playdates with wine. Gone are the wild nights out, finished with breakfast at a late-night diner. Here are the days of pairing off with couples who have children, to have early backyard BBQs that end when the kids turn on each other -- a.k.a. bedtime.
6. The laundry NEVER ends. Pre-baby, Saturday was laundry day. Post-baby, every day is laundry day. If you skip a day... well, you don't, otherwise geologists turn up at your door to measure the volcano growing in your laundry room. And trust me: Leave the volcano of clothes too long, and it will erupt.
7. You go from a gourmet chef to Chef Boyar-Dammit-Pasta-Again. Let's just say, the day my kid had his first bite of pasta was the day every other food ceased to exist. For some kids, it's chicken nuggets and French fries. For all kids, it's an uphill battle of showing them there is more to life than their favorite meal. For me, it's an internal battle of, do I have the energy to fight for rice or potatoes, or just give the kid his damn pasta?
8. Your happy marriage turns into a wild roller coaster ride... from hell. No way did I ever imagine the stress of having a child would rock my marriage so hard. But between the fear, sleeplessness, financial stress and awesome responsibility that come with being parents, our marriage got put on the back burner. We started to drift apart and at times resent each other's parental roles. Even though it took us too long, we finally realized -- thankfully -- that finding quality time with each other daily to reconnect is essential. Even if it's five minutes a night outside on the porch talking.
9. Your parent(s) turn into crazy people you don't know. When you were a kid, your parents stopped you from eating too much sugar, staying up late and getting a toy every time you went to the store. But once Mom and Dad become grandparents, they flip the script. All of a sudden, they are cool with candy, skipping bath- and bedtime and buying the most ridiculous kid sh*t.
10. You turn into a crazy person you don't know. Between the sleeplessness, fear and insane responsibility that come with being a parent, something happens. You become this person called Mom/Dad. Since I became a mom, I've stopped dropping F-bombs all over the house, I watch the bank account like a hawk, and the toilet is where you can find my social life.
Everything changes. And yes, it's certainly for the better. But the trip to better requires a lot of selflessness, fear, watching your parents turn into spineless twits and saying goodbye to your former wild, caution-less life.
I understand that the parenting books don't want to freak out an already freaking-out couple, but seriously, people need to know parenting is not all unicorns and rainbows. It's hard as hell, requires a huge life adjustment, and above all, demands serious teamwork and communication from all involved. (Grandparents, that means you, too! No more chocolate bars before dropping off our kids! That sh*t sucks.)