|Image by Joris Louwes|
I was a much better parent before I had kids. I knew just how things would go down. I had ideas. I’d heard other parents bitch, and I’d listened, and I knew how to get around it. Boy… was I wrong. Here are a few of my early assumptions and the reality.
Assumption: I don’t understand why new parents are so tired all the time. All a baby does is sit there.
A few nights a go I was up with my baby for three hours. If the baby hadn’t been so wiggly, I’d have gotten online right then and made an appointment to get a vasectomy. I have three kids, and as babies, all three of them were like living with enhanced interrogators. Getting a good nights rest is so rare that when it does happen I get up and go from room to room to make sure all the kids are still breathing.
Assumption: It can’t be that hard to keep a kid quite in the store. My kids will be well behaved in public, I will tell you that.
Reality: Ha ha! I laugh at this one every time. Most of the time my kids are sweet and wonderful. We have a lot of discussions about what is appropriate in public and what isn’t. But then we walk into a store and suddenly they turn into screaming, needing, wanting, maniacs. It’s like showing a werewolf the moon. It’s maddening and there isn’t much I can do about it other then keep telling them no. Taking them out. And telling them no again.
Assumption: I plan to never yell at my kids. The problem with most parents is a lack of communication. If I just explain to my kids, logically, they will understand.
Reality: My son refuses to brush his teeth but loves to eat his boogers. Give that equation to Spock and see if he can make it logical. It takes a surprising amount of concentration, a real focus on feelings and emotions, to keep from yelling at my kids. It’s not that they ignore me. It’s that they act like I don’t exist unless they are arguing, hungry, want screens, or need their butt checked. If I’m the phone, I have their full attention. If I ask them to pick up their crap, suddenly I’m dead. It's frustrating and exhausting and sometimes I feel like the only way I can get them to listen is by getting all red-faced and shitty, and having them look at me like I’m the meanest person in the history of ever. And then, the worst part, once it’s all said and done, I feel like a total asshole.
Assumption: Even with kids, I’m going to make it a point to still be cool.
Reality: How cool is a minivan? Not that cool. With kids, spit up is the new black. I can’t keep up with popular trends. All I can keep up with is Pixar movies. I know exactly what’s going on with the Backyardigans and Pokémon and Minecraft. I don’t own the radio or TV anymore, and if I try to watch a movie online my kids suddenly flock around me as if I’m actually interesting. With my first son, I tried to still spend money on name brand clothing. But I didn’t have the money, so I just held onto the name brand clothing I already had. Those clothes slowly went out of style, and suddenly I was that dad at the park in 2005 still wearing JNCO jeans and a FUBU t-shirt. Eventually I caved and slid into wearing Target brand polo’s and slacks. I haven’t bought a new album in years and I know all the words to “Let It Go.”
Assumption: I don’t care how demanding kids are. I’m going to stay in shape.
Reality: Nothing sucks your will to exercise like kids. I used to work out two hours a day and always used the stairs. Now I work too much to make ends meet, and when I do get home, I want to spend time with my family rather than work out. I bitch a lot about how heavy the car seat is and drink diet soda because it makes me feel like I care about my body. 20% of my body fat is made of my kids uneaten bread crust. I haven’t seen my abs in years and I’m at least an A cup.
Assumption: I plan to not let them eat in the car. I know it will be a fight, but it’s worth it to have nice things.
Reality: I made this assumption before I’d spent time in the car with a crying hungry toddler. After being in a mobile sweaty hell with little screeching demons whining for graham crackers and constantly touching each other and bitching about it, and then after doing that everyday for a few years, I was willing to do anything to keep the peace so I didn’t drive my minivan into oncoming traffic. Sometimes it feels like the backseat of my car is a prison yard and I’m doing what I can to keep inmates from revolting, and if that means handing out fruit snacks that will most likely be wedged into the seats, so be it.
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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo by Lucinda Higley