I know people who don’t have kids. Some of them don’t want any, which makes sense to me because, to tell you the truth, some days I don’t want any, either. I just haven’t been able to locate a reliable return policy yet, which means I grudgingly suffer through those occasions (TODAY) much in the same way that I do my couch that has cracks in the leather and that buggy play-digital-music-in-the-car device that gets all staticky – both also cases in which I am a victim to indeterminate return policies.
But some of those
misguided naive lovely people do want children, and simply haven’t gotten “there” yet. Most of the time these are also the folks who think they know how they will parent, and how you should parent, too. Which is annoying as fuck but something that should be tolerated patiently and with kindness, because eventually they will pop out a gremlin or two, and they will get them wet and feed them after midnight, and then you can spend entire days laughing your ass off at them.
There are moments, though, when your “not there yet” friends are not busy being experts at Ways You Could Parent Better, and they will ask, “What’s it really like, having kids?”
When that happens, those of us who are parents almost never know what to say. Mostly because we haven’t slept in 10 years and we’re mentally calculating the costs involved in replacing the iPhone that Kid B dropped in the toilet while the adults were busy dealing with the vomit volcano Kid A engineered by feeding the dog two pounds of chocolate. I always respond with something stupid like, “Hard work but worth it,” which is a damned lie because “hard work” doesn’t even begin to convey the fact that parenting makes the life of Jean Valjean look like a Caribbean cruise. And also because the “worth it” part is yet to be determined – if I’m living in public housing and eating cat food in 20 years, I’m gonna be hella pissed, is all I’m saying, and “worth it” will not be a part of my vocabulary.
I always think of better answers later.
So, what’s parenting really like?
It’s exactly like the cracked couch. It doesn’t look pretty, and makes you feel embarrassed sometimes. But it’s comfortable and supportive and you have all your happiest moments there, and that’s the real reason you still have it, even though you could easily afford a new one… Because when you look at it and know it’s not perfect, it makes you feel happy anyway.
It’s exactly like the buggy music player, that makes you say at least once during every drive, “Don’t repeat what I just said!” but in spite of it all, was wrapped by little hands that use too much tape and it makes it possible for you all to scream out the “EEEEEEHHHHH-UUUUHHHHHH,EEEEEEHHHHH-UUUUHHHHHH” siren part of “Here Comes the Weekend,” which, yeah, is a totally inappropriate song by P!nk and Eminem, filled with loads of bad words and questionable parenting choices, but it makes you all laugh and so you do it anyway.
It’s hiding in the hallway to write this post because your mood is so foul that you’re pretty sure you’re on the cusp of going all Firestarter on the world, but then cracking up to hear your son calling your daughter a “hycoprite” because, even if he doesn’t know how to say it, he sure as hell knows exactly what it means and is totally right.
That’s what it’s like.
It’s also counting down the hours until bedtime because one has more than earned a beer-and-marshmallows kind of night.
Six to go. Holla.