It was only 13 months after I got married that my first child arrived. I was young and I was open to any advice anybody had to give me. But no matter how much advice I got, nothing could have every prepared me for what parenthood was really like. Here are 10 things no one ever told you about parenthood.
I regularly have these fights with my five year old: "Yes, you really do have to put your pajamas on." "No, you can't have leftover pie for breakfast." "Because I said so is a good enough reason, now do it." I never thought my competency and authority could be so thoroughly criticized.
2. You thought you saw gross stuff before..
Growing up on a farm, I did a bit of veterinary work on animals. But even that didn't prepare me for having children. I'm not talking about just wiping boogers. If that's all I have to do, that's a good day. I never saw so much bodily fluid and smelled such raunchy stenches before I became a parent. And it's all up close, too.
3. You never knew you could love so much
Having kids is like walking around with your heart on your sleeve. You live life through your child's eyes. You feel their excitement and their pain. And you want to make their lives as good as you can.
As a parent, you see other kids being mean to your kid for no good reason. Your child comes home crying because someone said something awful. Sure, you've had it done to you, but when someone does it to your child, you question if there is anyhumanity in the world.
5. You see the worst parts of yourself
Everyone has heard that children are little sponges that soak up everything around them. So when you see your child do something objectionable that you normally do, you take a good long look at yourself and sulk. You wonder how you (with all your good intentions) can pollute someone so innocent and wonderful. And you feel really bad.
6. Having children makes you second guess yourself all the time
"I don't know why you can't go over to your friend's house right now, you just can't." "Because I said so, that's why." You wonder if these (among others) really are legitimate reasons. You can see why they question you which makes you question yourself too.
7. Having children gives you perspective you never had
Because you've been a grown-up for a while, you get used to seeing the world as an adult. But when you're a parent you can't help but see the world through your child's eyes. You see wonder and excitement in a whole new way.
8. You'll never be the same again
When you were single, you could go anywhere you wanted whenever you wanted. You also had most of the newest music on your iPod and knew most of the new TV shows that were out. When you're a parent, your hobbies change, your taste in music changes and your value of a good nights sleep changes too. You never imagined yourself like this — ever.
9. Being a parent is the hardest job you'll ever have
There, I said it. Yeah, children are cute and wonderful and full of joy but there are some days you just want to call in sick. You wish they could put themselves to bed and feed themselves and take care of themselves for just a few weeks without you.
10. Being a parent is the best job you'll ever have
Despite how sleep deprived, stressed out, self-judgmental and self-loathing you get sometimes, you wouldn't trade your children for the world. There's just something about your kids that make all the boogers and yelling and chasing worth every minute of your time.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.