Monthly Archives: June 2014

33 Things I’ve learned in 33 years*

*(New Parent Edition)

1. A baby’s cry has the magical ability to make time stop. For instance, 45 seconds of crying feels like three hours. And three hours of crying feels like you can’t remember life before the crying started and will probably die before it ends.

2. There are a lot of perks to having a baby. Using them as an excuse to stop cleaning your house is the best one.

3. How much a baby wants to vomit is directly proportional to how much you like the outfit you are currently wearing.

4. Never get mad when someone gets the gender of your baby wrong. Only get mad when they get your gender wrong.

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5. Watching your kid get a shot at the doctor really does hurt you more than it hurts them. But then you remember how much the first six weeks of breastfeeding hurt and suddenly you don’t feel nearly as bad for them anymore.

6. Babies are born with two very strong instincts: To suckle and to headbutt you right on the nose. They will want to do both of these things often.

7. Ironically, babies themselves are the best form of birth control.

8. You will love your baby more than anything else in the world. Except for sleep.

9. Always assume a pregnant woman is hungry. Because she is.

10. You cannot fathom how much you will talk about poop once you have a baby. How much, how often, consistency, color, smell, whether or not it exploded out of their cute, little tushie like an erupting volcano. It will sneak into every conversation you have.

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11. Apparently, there is such a thing as a stupid question. Or at least that’s what my son’s pediatrician told me when I called him at 3 a.m. last night.

12. Dogs love babies. And they show this love by licking them directly in the mouth every chance they get.

13. Hearing your baby laugh is the best sound in the world. I don’t have a follow-up joke for this. It just really is.

14. You will often find yourself oversharing incredibly personal information to your other mom friends, such as how your C-section scar is healing and why you need to use a nipple shield while breastfeeding. And you will do this loudly. While in public places.

15. Never tell a pregnant woman that cheeseburgers are not an acceptable breakfast food. She will stab you.

16. Babies use sleep deprivation as a mind control device. You will quite literally be willing to do anything for them if it means you can just take a five minute nap.

17. No matter how clearly you explain it to them, babies will never understand the correlation between them shoving their finger in their eye and why they are currently in pain and crying.

18. Never ask a pregnant woman if you think she should be eating that. She will stab you.

19. You will completely forget how much you hated people who constantly posted photos of their kids all over Facebook and Instagram while you’re busy uploading 56 photos to your album “Baby’s First Tuesday!”

20. Never eat off a pregnant woman’s plate. She will stab you.

21. If there was an Olympic sport called “Who can pee the farthest?”, a baby would win.

22. If there was an Olympic sport called “Who can spit the binkie out the farthest?”, a baby would win.

23. If there was an Olympic sport called “How many times can I make this idiot pick up the binkie off the floor?”, a baby would win.

24. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure maternity ward nurses are angels. Angels handing out magical painkillers made of rainbows and unicorns and the happy tears of a teacup pig.

25. The second you brag about how well your baby sleeps through the night is the second he decides to wake up every 15 minutes every single night for the next six months.

26. Never ask a pregnant woman if she ate that entire cake. She did. And she will stab you.

27. Grandparents are the only people on this earth who will not immediately hand back to you your screaming child.

28. Screw sliced bread. Disinfectant wipes are the best invention since forever.

29. Once you have a baby, eating a meal becomes a luxury. One you can no longer afford.

30. For some reason, babies hate any entertainment that isn’t jiggling keys. Hence, you will never watch a full TV episode or a movie in its entirety ever again.

31. Never tell a pregnant woman you think she’s gained too much weight. She will cry. And then she will stab you.

32. There are a lot of things wrong with the world. But it’s hard to think of any of them when you have a sleeping baby on your chest.

33. It’s likely at some point in your life you will be stabbed by a pregnant woman.

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Don’t take time to be a dad today

Remember those public service announcements a few years back that showed a dad playing with his kid and then encouraged other dads to “take time to be a dad today”?

Cute as they were, I always hated those commercials. Even though I understood the reasoning behind it (addressing the high numbers of absent and deadbeat dads in the U.S.), I still hated the message, for two reasons:

  1. There were no equivalent “take time to be a mom today” ad campaigns because it’s just assumed that mom will take care of the kid the rest of the time once dad is done “being a dad today.” And…
  2. The message set the bar pretty low, in my opinion, and did a great disservice to all the fathers out there who are dads every hour of every day of every year.

Perhaps it’s because I grew up without a father myself but nothing irritates me more than watching society pat crappy fathers on the back because they did the bare minimum in terms of fatherhood. This is especially true now that I have a child myself and have watched my husband not only step up to the plate in terms of fatherhood, but knock it out of the park.

Ryan was the first one to change Riker’s diaper. He was the first one to give him a bath and file down his Freddy Krueger-like talons. When I needed a break from breastfeeding because of the pain, he fed him with his finger and a tiny tube attached to a syringe to encourage correct suckling.

He’s the one that puts Riker to bed every night. He’s the undisputed king of sucking that kid’s gigantic boogers out with the booger sucker thingy. He faces diaper blow outs with the bravery of a knight in King Arthur’s court. He’s walked miles around our house trying to calm an unappreciative and very loud Riker during the witching hour.

And perhaps most importantly of all, when he gets home from a long day of work, he immediately takes our son from my arms to give me a break so I can write or clean or finally shower or, if need be, just stare vacantly at the wall for awhile because my brain is oatmeal after getting up at 4 a.m. and taking care of a 3-month-old (who views napping in the crib as a special kind of torture) all day.

In fact, he’s so good about this last part that I actually feel slightly guilty that the poor guy gets no down time during the week. His response when I told him?

“Taking care of him is my job too. I helped make him.”

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Yeah. Feel free to hate my guts, ladies.

Now you could easily dismiss this as simply Ryan being an anomaly. But over the years, I’ve watched several of my male friends and relatives turn into amazing dads. Dads that don’t just show up for the fun parts of parenthood but are there for the dirty, haz-mat suit should be required, parts too. Not to mention, all the men I’ve met over the years with older kids who were already amazing dads. Married, divorced, single, stay-at-home dads. It didn’t matter. Because what all these men had in common was that they didn’t need to take time to be a dad. Because they never took time off from being a dad.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a big problem in this country with men not being good fathers. Or even bothering to be fathers. There is.

But perhaps because of this problem, we tend to overlook the dads that need recognition the most. The guys who don’t just show up to the birthday party, but helped plan it. The guy who doesn’t just spend an hour on Saturday playing with Legos with his son, but spends all weekend building a giant Lego replica of the Death Star. The guy who volunteers to be chaperon for their daughter’s weeklong field trip to some awful campsite in the middle of nowhere.

Regardless of custody agreements, geographic location, work schedules, relationship with the mother or any other obstacle, these dads find a way to always be there for their children. And more importantly, let their children know, not just with words, but with deeds, that they will always be there for them.

So, fellas (especially you, Ryan), just know that someone, lowly and non-famous writer that she is, sees what you do and thinks you’re amazing for making the ordinary dad things you do extraordinary by simply thinking they are just ordinary.