In my experience, it takes about a year to come out of the fog that blankets one’s life after having a child. Or a second child. Or a third or fourth or fifth or however many babies one has pushed out of their woman parts. For me it was two, and I am more than pleased with that number as is my uterus.
My son recently turned one and the cloud has begun to lift. The days and nights are slowly moving towards “normal” and I wake up in the morning with a vague idea of what to expect. My daughter will disobey me at least once a day causing discipline and tears and later apologies and hugs. My son will throw a tantrum over something really, really silly like my not allowing him to play in the toilet. (Can someone please tell my kids there is no “toy” in the word “toilet?”) I will spend a long time in the evenings apologizing to my vacuum for what I put it through, and occasionally rearrange my daughter’s dolls in entertaining ways to amuse myself.
But now that I’m seeing clearly for the first time in two years, I’ve noticed some side effects of parenting that no one ever told me about.
1. An uncanny, and impressive, knowledge of Sesame Street plot lines.
You need tin foil to make Rocko the Rock float in water! Max the Magician is using addition and subtraction! Big Bird doesn’t understand that moving habitats means leaving everything he’s ever known on Sesame Street!
2. The laughable notion of a “quick’ shower.
Showers now take at least 15 minutes. Not only because a short, babbling audience is sure to emerge once you get undressed, but because the first five minutes you’re in the bathroom are spent picking up and putting away bath toys. And maybe cleaning or sterilizing them if you’re one of those parents. I am not. And, yeah, I kinda feel bad about it.
3. Your food selections cause you to question if an adult actually lives in your home.
When taking stock of your kitchen, you find fruit snacks, squeeze pouches of applesauce, dino chicken nuggets, and a supply of Cheerios that seems to regenerate over night. How and when did all this get in here?
4. Your notion of “clean” has been completely altered.
Sure, my house is clean… if you ignore the greasy hand prints on the window that I leave there since more will just emerge tomorrow. And when I say I vacuumed, what I really mean is there’s no food under the dining room table for my toddlers to eat the following morning. Most days.
5. A high level of self-restraint.
There’s a reason hospitals make new parents watch the “purple crying” video which advises these mommy’s and daddy’s that, if you think you might strangle your out of control crying baby, you should leave them for a few minutes in their crib where they can’t hurt themselves and, more importantly, you can’t either. Kids can be absolutely rage-inducing. If an adult reacted towards me the way my toddlers do, I would rip them a new one both figuratively and literally, but I can’t do that to my kids. It helps that they’re cute and the law frowns on it.
6. The ability to endure days on little or no sleep.
The meaning of “full night’s sleep” has deteriorated from 8 full hours to 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I am amazed daily at how well I survive, and some days even thrive, on what little sleep my children allow me. If I get 6 straight hours of sleep, I wake up convinced I could win any marathon on the planet, and after the race still have the energy to clean my whole house, write the great American novel, and read an encyclopedia to my children. All with a smile on my face.
7. Toy Vision.
Everything is a toy! There is no such thing as trash! Empty coffee canister? It’s a drum! Toilet paper roll? It’s a telescope! Plastic produce bag? Well, I guess not everything is a toy…