If you are planning on starting a family, or expecting your first child, there are a multitude of books, on-line forums and websites that will tell you all about becoming a parent. Not to mention the parenting classes, pamphlets in the doctor’s office, and the never ending and also unsolicited advice from total strangers. Of course it is important to educate yourself. You will want to know the best foods to eat during pregnancy, how to install a car seat, what to expect during labor and so on and so on.
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Now that I have had four children of my own, and have also made myself crazy reading everything I could get my hands on regarding becoming a mom and parenting in general, I feel there are a few details that have been left out of all of the material I read.
A few details that I know that I was totally unprepared for, and that every parent should know before embarking on this wild and amazing journey. If I was to tell someone how best to prepare for parenthood, I would suggest the following steps:
Buy A New Minivan.
Once you arrive home, spend at least twenty minutes driving a dinky car (a metal one) all over one side of the shiny new paint. Then, take Cheerios and fishy crackers and dump an entire package of each through the back and middle seats. Be sure to grind them into the floor with your feet. Buy a package of stickers. Not the reusable ones. Then “decorate” the inside of the back and side windows with them. Also any available surface that isn’t upholstered.
Then, and this is extremely important, have someone leave something that will rot, somewhere in the van. They are not allowed to tell you what it is or where they hid it. You are not truly parenthood ready unless your vehicle has a mystery smell. Bonus points if the smell is only really bad during certain types of weather and absolutely impossible to locate.
I mean completely stop sleeping. No naps, no closing your eyes for a few minutes, and certainly do not lay down on any soft surfaces. In the event that you do fall asleep, employ someone to immediately wake you with an ear piercing scream and then have them demand that you provide water or insist that you make their pajamas less pajamaey…..After all of this sleep deprivation, borrow a cat and try to bathe and clothe it. If you can also manage to take it shopping, you are ready for parenthood.
Cook a beautiful, healthy meal that took a great deal of time to plan and make. Walk into the bathroom, make a disgusted face at yourself in the mirror. Throw the meal in the garbage. Repeat daily.
Forget About Hygiene.
You can only shower every other day (since we are easing you into this parenthood gig) and those showers can only be five minutes in length. You must also leave the door open and get out of the shower, dripping wet, multiple times to listen at the open door or retrieve random objects. Also, you only get one bottle of body wash which is for your body and hair and it will only have a few drops left in it at all times. This is actually preparation for having a teenager, but seriously you can’t prepare early enough.
Prepare For Post-Kid Phone Calls
Anytime you need to make a phone call and you know the system will be voice activated, drive to a construction site. Make your calls. For regular calls, employ someone to come over and either interrupt every three seconds to scream about someone hitting them, or to simply keep smacking the phone out of your hand.
Practice For Outings
Take two squirrels out in a public place. Release them. Then try to catch them.
Train For Road Trips
Go for a long drive in your fully prepped minivan with one Wiggles song on repeat, that mystery smell in full effect, stopping every twenty minutes to see if you need to pee. If you could employ someone to tag along and then throw up when five minutes from your destination…that would be ideal.
The truly amazing and bizarre thing about parenthood is that even though you will be driven to the brink of insanity on an almost daily basis, you will love that little person so intensely that none of the above will matter. Although, I would also stock up on coffee and wine….you will need them.
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