Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is Parenting For You Pt 2

A couple months ago, I wrote a post for my sister who is getting married soon. I wanted to give her some advice/tips/warnings to give her a small idea of some of the things she'll have to deal with once she becomes a mother.

My biggest piece of advice is to wait a little while before having kids because you're getting married to be spouses, partners in life etc etc etc. not to help populate the earth. Haha, I've got that part covered! Enjoy being married to each other for a little while. You're young enough that there's no rush. However, when the time does come, your world will never be the same. There's tons of love and joy involved. I promise. And nothing you've experienced to date compares to becoming a parent. But because that also is as true for the love part as it is for the chaos that will ensue, I feel the need to give you a few more pointers. I could give you advice until my brain is empty and it still won't fully prepare you for some of the strangeness you'll encounter, the weird conversations you'll have or the smells that will haunt your dreams. But I'm going to go ahead anyway.

1. Learn to say "NO". To everything and everyone. This applies to several different situations. First, say no to family, friends, bosses, strangers... Your first priority is your husband and kids. Someone kindly and wisely said to me recently, "Your family is your first ministry." Obviously, learn to do it respectfully and in love but learn to say it. Jess, I know you. You like to make others happy. You enjoy being involved and helpful and outgoing. But don't ever sacrifice your home life for it. The second half of this is meant for your future kids. Chances are, you will learn to tune them out. Not necessarily a terrible thing. It's your brain going into survival mode. When you have multiple people jabbering at you constantly, your brain will learn to shut out the "white noise". However, the dangerous side effect of this is accidentally saying "Sure" or "Uh Huh" or "Yup" when you don't realize what you're really responding to. The potential danger is allowing your kids to paint on walls. Or go fishing in the toilet. Or sharing the giant SAMs club sized bag of M & Ms with the dogs. Or let them ride the dog. Or jump off the top bunk. Or parachute off the balcony. The list goes on. Just learn to automatically say "NO!" 

2. Date. Often and regularly. I know you guys are in the "We're almost married and in love. 'Blue birds sing when we walk by and flower petals float on the air and angels sing for us'" stage. I'm not saying that ends when you have kids but things change. It's just part of life. Spending time alone together is important to keeping your sanity AND your unity. 

3. Start developing serious OCDs now and then let my kids stay with you for two weeks. I could use the break. And you need to learn how to handle having your OCDs shaken up. I was remembering the other day when it was just me and Alessandra during the week and the hubs would fly home on the weekends. Every Thursday and Friday, I did the same cleaning. And the house was in pretty decent shape. Not the case now. Now, the only thing I'm OCD about is how the dishwasher is loaded and that's just because I need to be able to unload it as quick as possible before the kids decide to "help" and dump food into the dishwasher onto the clean plates. Ugh. For real though. You need to learn how to break all your habits, good and bad, without crumbling. 

4. When you finally get pregnant, don't listen to anyone's advice except mine. You'll get too many conflicting stories/advice. You know I'll give it to you straight. And that I've done it a time or two. Or eight. How many kids do I have again? I lost count...

5. You and Geoff need to start whispering to each other. Have full conversations in whisper. This is also two fold. First, you will NOT want to wake your sleeping baby. They're cute but if you wake them, they turn into dragon babies. They breath fire and turn red and break sound barriers with their screams of rage. Smaug looks like a kitten compared to a baby that has been woken from its slumber. Master the art of the whisper. Better yet, learn sign language. On the flip side, one day, your house will be so noisy that you can't hear a darn thing but you're going to need to communicate. If you learn to whisper, it'll help you hone in on each other's voices. So amidst the noise, you'll recognize the sound of the whisper and know to listen. Turn on all devices and practice. Lots. 

6. Come up with code words now. And make sure they're words that if the kids repeat in public, you won't be massively embarrassed. Like don't say things like "Can we play tonight?" when referring to intimacy. The kids WILL ask about that. Don't call it "Boom Boom" or something equally awkward. Call it "brussel sprouts". Give it a term that they will ignore. Better yet, just whisper it. Candy and toy is another one. I swear that I could say, "I need to pick up candy for the church party" downstairs and a kid sleeping upstairs with the door closed will fully wake up and say, "Candy??? I want candy!!!! {Mongo wants candy!!!}" Again, brussel sprouts might be appropriate. 

7. Open your mind. Embrace Dora. I remember walking in Target before we had kids and seeing an entire isle full of Hannah Montana stuff and saying to the hubby, "Our kids won't be into all that mainstream, commercial stuff. We'll make them cool individuals. I don't want that stuff in my house." 6 years later, I can sing along to every Dora song, I know the names of all the CARS characters, Hello Kity and I have conversations and I like to go into the Mickey Mouse club house because "it's fun inside." You will have plenty of battles to fight once parenthood starts but open your mind now. Because chances are that anything you say, "When I become a mom, I won't let my kids do that" is exactly what you'll end up doing. That being said, Dora can take Boots and her magic stars and fly to the moon. And stay there. Oh. And my gut instinct was right about Hannah Montana. Hot mess! 

8. I was going to tell you to hang out at places where there's lots of kids but since you don't have any of your own yet, that may be super creepy. I don't recommend that you hang out on the playground in the mall because once people see you don't have a kid with you, they won't hesitate to call security on you. But you have friends who gave kids. So offer to babysit them sometimes. The goal here is to let them get their germs all over you. I mean it. Let them rub their snotty little faces all over yours. You need to build up your immunities. Get sick now. Because once you have kids, you won't have time to get sick. And if you do, the whole house will fall down around you. I'm still trying to get the house straight after thus last month of being so sick. It's frustrating. So go help your friends out at their houses when their kids are ill. Expose yourself to the "tiny yucky germs" as much as you possibly can. 

9. You guys need to steal each other's stuff and hide it. Let him take your phone when you least expect it and have him hide it somewhere real good. Make sure the battery is dead so you won't hear the ring. Or take his keys and hide them. Or his shoes. Learn how to be master "finders" now because the kids WILL play "hide and seek" with your valuables and they WILL forget where they hid it. If it can be hidden, they will hide it. And be prepared. You CAN hide things both "out in the open" and in the strangest places. I HAVE found my underwear in Little Man's Puggles book bag. And when I asked "Uh.... What's up with this, Homie?" he DID respond "I wanted to hide them" while laughing. 

10. Go to a local farm and beg the owners to let you put baby oil on a piglet and try to put clothes on it. Then you'll get an idea of what it's like to try and dress a hyper kid. Adrina thinks it's fun to be naked. And she thinks getting dressed is a fun game. Sometimes putting clothes on her involves chasing and running and wrestling and giggles or crying. Sometimes hair gets pulled. And once babies learn to roll over, trying to put clothes on one while they're flipping all over the place is a real challenge. Dress a pig to practice for the todler, dress a fish to practice for the baby. There's a whole lot of flopping around that happens. I'm a little surprised God didn't create humans with more arms and legs but He knows best. 

11. Last, but definitely not least, learn how to break into your own house. You've heard the stories about how many times the kids have locked me out of the house. In the rain. And I had no key outside. Or no shoes on to run through the area where the dogs poo so I could get to the front of the house. And how I've stood outside yelling the kids names or throwing rocks at their windows to get their attention so I could beg them to come let me in. And how, on more than one occasion, they stood there at the windows laughing and waving and mushing theirs faces on the glass. For real. Learn how to break in. Just don't tell anyone else how you did it. 

If I had the time, I'd just write a book. Because I could go on all day long about all the weird things your kids will do and say or the embarrassing things that will inevitably happen or the ridiculous contraptions you'll have to learn how to use. Maybe one day I will. But that day is not today. Adrina just walked past me with out pants. Again. 

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