The Truth About Kids, Part 1: Having Kids Is Not The Best Thing Ever

Ahh, children. They’re…weird.

Our society is also pretty weird when it comes to children, so you end up with exponential weirdness. It’s a shame that parenting is such a lightning rod issue, and that we all take ourselves so seriously. It makes camaraderie and support so much more elusive.

So, I thought I’d share a little of my limited parenting experience, in hopes that you might feel better about your current situation as a parent. Or, if you’re someone who has been crippled by parentanoia, (I just made that up right now. I know.) maybe you’ll feel a little better about the prospect of having kids. Assuming that you want kids. Which you don’t have to want to have kids. I mean, eh…well, we’ll talk about that later.

This is just part one, so don’t get all frazzled if you feel like this is one-sided or wrong or evil or whatever. Read the other parts when they’re published, then get all frazzled. Here we go…

Having Kids Is Not The Best Thing Ever

It's Not Always Paradise

(Original photo by victoriapeckham)

Some people will tell you all kinds of unbelievably gooey stories about how great kids are, and how they didn’t know the meaning of life until they had kids, and how everything else pales in comparison, et cetera. People say, “I can’t even remember what life was like before we had children!” Oh, really? I do. It was awesome.

Before kids, I could (and did) sleep in until 10:30. Before kids, no one had ever (never!) vomited directly on my person. I did not have to repeat the same, exact request 78 times a day. I never googled “light-colored bowel movements.” I did not have to wedge my personal  interests into an hour and a half nap window twice a day. Really, I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. The world was my freaking oyster, and I didn’t even know it. Sigh.

Having kids is crazy hard, and there is no amount of cuteness that will un-exhaust you. Having been on both sides of the fence, I can tell you that being a parent is 2.8 times harder than having a job. Or a billion times harder. Something in there. What do you do at a job? Put on pants and go have adult conversations? Oh, geeze, make sure you take a break from that!* Your co-workers do not use crying as their primary mode of communication. They talk. Nicely, most of the time. Even better, they email. You don’t even have to look at them! Even the most insane customer is insane at a distance. Children are insane in your home. I would easily liken being a parent to working in customer service, that is, if the customer then followed you home, crapped his pants, and cried until you cleaned it up. With your hands, I tell you! Your hands!

The Office Monkey

This is easy! (Original photo by shazwildcat)

*Some jobs are actually super hard and could give parenting a run for its money. Like being a cop. Or a solider. Stuff like that. Stuff that basically involves a very real risk of death. Anything short of a brush with death can’t even hold a candle to parenting.

As a parent, the entirety of your sanity is utterly dependent on whether or not your child takes a nap. (What in God’s name happens when children stop napping!? I don’t even know!) There is a button, deep inside every parent’s brain that, when pressed, makes it seem like all the good things of the world have grown fangs and are coming to bite you in the ass, and all the bad things have taken residence in your very soul. That button is magically pressed when a wee sob creeps its way through the closed door at the end of the hall at 1:30PM (instead of 2 freaking 15, dangit! 2:15!)

And if the naps don’t get you, the constant, incessant second-guessing of every single thing you do, have done, or will do in the future, will. This is not only because parenting is harder than anything short of ninja-ry, but because everyone thinks they can do your job. Everyone has an opinion. For some people, that’s because they have kids—they’ve been there. And because the human brain is wired to justify everything we do, they think what they did was the best choice ever. Some people don’t have kids, but if they did have a kid, he certainly wouldn’t be throwing a fit. Or pouring milk down his pants. Or eating 17 gummy bears off the grass. They would never, in their sweetest voices, tell little Frankie that they’re going to sell him in Mexico if he doesn’t stop putting sand in Mama’s purse. (It was a JOKE, people. A joke. Was it a dark joke? Yes. But still a joke. Calm down.)

And the passing opinion isn’t even the tip of the iceberg  in terms of the criticism you face as a parent. Why? Because of the damn internet. Every criticism, small or large, can be justified and magnified through the holy powers of the internet. Vaccinate your kid? Well, the internet will tell you how that’s turning her brain to mush. Didn’t vaccinate? The internet says your kid has 12.6 hours to live. Spanking? The internet says your Hitler’s BFF. Don’t spank? You’re a crazy hippie. Trying to decide if you’re a terrible parent by referencing the internet is like playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon starting with Demi Moore—there’s only one degree of separation, so it’s easy to see the connection. But in this case, you’re Demi Moore, and Kevin Bacon is embarrassing, mortifying, damaging failure. Thank you, oh wondrous internet.

So, you’ve lost your freedom. You’re exhausted, covered in poop and your left eye is twitching a little. You’re begging God (and Superman? President Obama? It doesn’t even matter!) to help your kid sleep through this nap and the internet is telling you that your poop-encrusted insanity is largely your fault. Magical, no? With that description, I’m sure you’re wondering if I did actually try to sell my kid in Mexico. Well, I didn’t, because I love my kid like crazy. Why? Because having kids is not the worst thing ever. So be sure to stay tuned for the next installment, when we see what’s lurking on the other side of the coin.

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31 Comments

  1. Gracie Allan

     /  November 20, 2013

    *walk away…um, not from the kids…but from the back-seat-parenting-let-me-save-your-children-from-your-inept-parenting-with-my-great-advise-or-dirty-looks-or-both types at the grocery store, church, park…you know, walk away from them.

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  2. Gracie Allan

     /  November 20, 2013

    I stumbled onto your website looking for a devotional website called Truth for Kids, but you totally made my day!! You are hysterical. I rarely laugh out loud but I was holding my stomach laughing out loud reading this. I have raised 4 children – two grown, two still here. I have 47 stupid parenting books on my shelf, but if I had just read this blog entry when baby number one was about 6 months old I could have skipped them all. You get it. Took me 15 years to just mutter “Yeah, I did some of my best parenting before I had kids, too,” and walk away.

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  3. Oh my gosh, did I really recently tell a woman at a party that I couldn’t remember not having my son?! I did. Wow. And I had only had half a glass of wine. No excuse. Of course, (not bragging, this is part of my lame attempt at defending what I already know was crazy) his naps finally, finally mostly fall in the age-appropriate range (finally), which may be like a drug that slowly erases the reality of the baby days. I need an intervention. As long as it does NOT involve shorter naps. Let’s not get crazy.

    I love this post — all so, so true.

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  4. As it’s been said, you’re a genius. This series of posts is absolutely genius and I love your humour and your perspective. Amazing.

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  5. Genius, just genius. I love this. I love the cold hard poopy truth. I have a stepson I have helped raise since he was 4, and am trying to decide with my hubby if we will go out on a limb and have our own at our advanced ages of 36 and 39. In my search for someone to really be honest about what it is like, I found you via another blog of an undecided woman in my age bracket. On this blog you left a comment and said you hoped you would help someone with a link to the three parts here. Well, you helped me. Because I realized I am not alone and if I take this journey, I don’t have to be all candy apples and freaking unicorns running across rainbows. I don’t have to loose my identity. I wish there were more like you out there! Consequently I am still researching my choices, so if you have any parenting books that you liked, that were humorous and truthful and such. I’d love suggestions.

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    • So glad you liked this series, Carrie! I’m sure—SURE!—there are more people like me out there, but it never feels like it. Being a parent makes you feel like you’ve been marooned on kiddie island. It takes work to convince yourself otherwise.

      As far as books are concerned, I mostly read the how-do-I-keep-this-kid-alive/not-want-to-murder-myself variety, which don’t tend to be all that funny. I got the most help from Babywise (enjoy the drama if you ever get in a discussion about this book), and (don’t mock) the Nanny 911 book. Have you seen the tiny devils those ladies have worked with?! It’s impressive. I’ll take their advice any day.

      Good luck in your decision!

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  6. This is too darn brilliant. I have a disabled kid and am trying to have another. Not disabled … Oh u know what I mean … I’ll stop digging that hole now. Anyway imagine a screaming pooping no napping toddler but with the height advantage of an 8 year old. That’s my current life. And for some reason I’m desperately trying for version 2. Why? Maybe it’s because I need a spare in case I carry out my threats to throw him in the dustbin or maybe just maybe it’s coz I love the weird little kid

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  7. I’d like to say you are a brave woman for telling it like it is. I like to say, I knew how to parent until I became one. Thank you for sharing this.

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  8. Fab post. I’ll read the next installment during my kid’s next nap time!

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  9. Here’s how you deal with The End of Napping. Put your freezer on the rock-hard-frozen setting and buy an ice cream maker. Make ice cream. With fruit and a little less sugar if possible, but really, it doesn’t matter. Freeze ice cream in individual containers (empty yogurt containers work perfectly). When the previously existing nap time comes, give kid a frozen hunk of ice cream and a spoon. Should buy you 15-30 mins. Good luck.

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  10. pryan51

     /  July 19, 2012

    ROTFLOL!!! I am shocked this didn’t get more comments/likes. Too too funny [of course I’m talking from the point of view of someone whose children are 29 and 33 so I can look back and laugh. Sure wasn’t laughing much then…..]

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  11. May I just point out that this is the greatest post I have read thus far? I love it when people who don’t have children say “my child would never be throwing a tantrum, etc.” Yeah, okay. Keep living in your little dream world, because that’s what children do. lol. I used to be one of those, until I started watching my nephew five days out of the week while his mom was at work. I’ve learned many things in this short amount of time, and I’m sure I’ll learn more when I have my own children. He’s two now, and he still does things like eat gummy worms off the floor. {I do make absolutely certain that they are GUMMY worms. lol.} Do I like that he does it? No. Does he do it often? No. When he throws fits, he does get in trouble. The funniest thing is, he’ll scream or something in the store, and he will get in trouble. Then the same people who gave you dirty looks for your child screaming in the store give you dirty looks for disciplining your child. Ugh.

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  12. Jen

     /  March 27, 2012

    That’s hilarious. My husband works with disabled adults – he’s done group homes and 1-1. All I’m going to say is, imagine your crazy crapping-in-his pants 3 yr old doing and saying the exact same things at 45! Two words: Adult. Diaper. Seriously, my husband is a saint, and it’s all downhill from where he is! (Take heart – I would totally get myself fired from his job in no time! LOL).

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  13. Starr

     /  January 5, 2012

    Um… Hilarious. Wow, you just wrote out our life! Especially now that we’ve added a newborn to the life-sucking toddler. Hope all is well

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  14. i read this when you first posted it. loved it of course because i think you are witty and awesome.
    i keep thinking about that photo at the top, and the best thing ever being the “this all the time.” i think having kids makes the “this all the time” a million times more enjoyable. i’m just say’n.

    and i love your kid. kiss her from her aunt denise.

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  15. Kristina

     /  November 10, 2011

    So so true. What the hell DOES happen after naps stop? I’m terrified! I have a 5+ year old, almost 3 year old and a 1 year old. Naps are saving grace.

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  16. Truer words have never been spoken. Thank you for being awesome and not candy-coating what it’s like to be a parent.

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  17. Chad Bowman

     /  November 10, 2011

    Great insight. Shared it on facebook myself. So does that mean it is worse (of course I mean better) for parents who both work full time and parent kids. Just thinking out loud. I think the fun (misery) multiplies with more kids too!

    Thanks for the truth and chuckles.

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  18. Amen Sista!!! Preach It!

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  19. This was awesome! I hope you don’t mind that I linked to it from my blog. Blessings to you on your journey as a parent!

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  20. LOL! If you want to check out my ramblings on motherhood I’m a seemomblog.com

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  21. you are my best friend.

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  22. Preach it. Here’s a little secret, I tell people how awesome being a parent is because I want to drag them into the same “fun” we experience every day. It’s like tag, except you don’t get un-it. Ever. :)

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  23. Melanie,

    I recently found your blog from a link your brother posted on facebook. I just want to say that I really enjoy your writing and humor. Keep up the good work! Now I am off to check the going prices for children on the Mexican black market…

    Luke Foust

    Like

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  1. Workin’ Hard for the Money « Melanie Crutchfield
  2. Kids or No Kids? – That is the Question | The Chambers' – B.C.
  3. The Truth About Kids, Part 3: Is It Worth It? « Melanie Crutchfield

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