Having kids has been the best thing I have ever done with my life. It has also been the most time consuming, the most patience-testing, the most expensive and the most trying thing I have ever done with my life. My children are so active that sometimes I wonder if it is just us? I also wonder how people decide to have more than two kids. I also wonder why my boss doesn't give me a medal some days just for showing up.
I got tons of advice before I had children. None of it was any newsflash. And none of it helped me to prepare for actually having children. Here are the ten things I wish people WOULD have told me prior to having children.
1-You will never again sleep past 8 o'clock without some prior planning and or tag teaming. DH and I have designated sleep in days. He gets Saturday and I get Sunday. But for almost three years we hadn't figured that nugget out and when the kids got up we both got up. We are regular geniuses, eh?
2-Just because you put your kids to bed late does NOT mean that they will wake up late. I have put my kids to bed at ten PM only to have them still awake at 6:30. And you know what happens next right? Crankypants kids. Sometimes it takes two days for them to catch up on one late night. Boy, that sure is a motivator for turning in early.
3-You *might* never wear a bikini again. My mother-in-law loves to remind me that she wore a bikini until she was almost fifty and she bore four kids. Yes you heard that right. And I saw the pictures and she was pretty smokin' in that bikini. I always thought that wearing a bikini was up to the person. If you were motivated to wear a bikini then you worked out and watched what you ate and you could look fabulous. You can do anything that you put your mind to!! Sorry, no go. Having children is like rolling the sexy-dice, you might go back looking like your old self or you might end up disfigured and with stretch marks. I, gentle friends, am the latter. Thing 2 was so large that I stretched quite badly even though I did everything right. And because I have a relatively small frame but bore this massive man-child, my stomach now looks like someone has let the air out of it. So even though I still fit into my now 12-year-old bikinis, seeing me on a beach or community pool actually wearing one of them would be a not-good idea. 'She sure can clear a pool' is not a compliment.
4-One-piece swimsuits never look as good as the two-pieces. Now that I pretty much wear one pieces all the time, I must tell you, designers throw together their one piece designs after all the sexy two pieces are out of the way. And for a long waisted girl like me, I have to buy a size 10 or 12 just to get them to be long enough. Then the arm holes are too big or the leg holes stretch up super high resulting in a wedgie every time I take a step. Seriously? I am ready to leave the beach and put my shorts back on.
5-All the furniture that you own will be destroyed. I understood, babies mean baby-proofing. So I placed my grandmother's delicate and cherished Lladro figurines in the china cabinet out of reach. But I can't put the couch in the china cabinet. Can I? We got a lovely but not terribly expensive coffee table just before I got preggers with Thing 1. Today it has a warped panel from spilled milk and dozens of tiny teeth marks from when Thing 2 was teething. Our couch also wasn't super fancy, but we bought it new five years ago and didn't shop the sales. It now sags in the middle has huge rips in the fabric. And that doesn't even mention all the times one kid or another has peed on it. Yeah-you totally want to come over to my house don't you?
6-Baby gear has a two-kid life time. My heart bleeds for a third baby. But I do NOT think that will be happening unless we somehow hit the big time. Besides the obvious, needing a bigger apartment and car, we have nothing left from when Thing 1 was a baby. All of the gear we bought broke while Thing 2 was using it. The swing, the bouncy seat, the toys, the clothes, the high chair, the spoons and forks, you name it, it broke. So I get it. That third kid is an expensive endeavor making a fourth kid almost necessary to justify the expense. On the flip side, throwing away broken stuff has been far easier than throwing away treasured baby things that we no longer need. It isn't like I have the room to store all those treasured memories anyway.
7-You will never again have trouble falling asleep. Not much to say about that. When I finally get to sleep, I go to sleep. None of this tossing and turning bullshit.
8-Your boobs will not necessarily stay big. In fact they probably will shrink. My mother always told me that after she had kids her boobs stayed bigger than they were beforehand. I was ready for this!!! I am one of the founding members of the Itty-Bitty-Titty-Comittee, so this was one thing I was really hoping for after having children. However, I lost quite a bit of weight after having kids, more than I had gained in pregnancy. So my story isn't exactly like my mother's. In fact I found myself in Macy's eight or so months after Thing 1 was born saying to the sales woman 'My bras just aren't fitting right anymore.' She took one look at me and told me my problem, I was actually an A cup. Do you know that they don't make a whole lot of A cup bras? Fast forward to just a few months ago. I went to Bloomingdale's. I knew to ask for help since there were likely 5 bras in the whole store that would fit me. The woman measured me and asked me 'Have you ever considered trying petite bras?' I said 'Why would I? I am almost 5'8".' The ending of that story? Companies do make double A petite bras and almost no one stocks that size. Being me is so awesome, isn't it?
9-The terrible twos aren't the end of the story. The threes are pretty terrible too and even four can have its moments. I waited for Thing 1's third birthday singing a song about happy times are here again. And I discovered that three is worse that two. When your kids are two, they melt down over everything. And it is easy not to get sucked into their irrational spiral. You step over them writhing on the floor and wait for them to get over their tantrum. At three the tantrums become physical. They want candy, you say no, they run to the pantry and start climbing up the shelves in the cabinet. At four they give you three reasons why you should give them candy AND they ask nicely and when you still say no they go for broke screaming at the top of their lungs. Can someone please tell me that five is better? Six? I am ready for anything these days.
10-Nothing will ever be perfect. The only advice I ever give new or expecting parents is 'Never say never'. It is not a call to abandon principles but rather a reminder that sometimes when faced with difficult or stressful situations, you might make different choices than when you are still pregnant, calm and well rested. I never thought I would allow my kids to watch TV during dinner or get what they want after a tantrum, but every day is different and every situation is different. While a child can make a habit in just three or four days, many times that habit can also be broken in three or four days too.
11-Kids don't learn anything the first time you teach them something new. Okay, that might not be entirely true. But I think what it really means is that it takes kids longer than one time to learn anything. So don't stress if they don't learn right away or maybe you didn't explain it right the first time. It doesn't matter because you will get another chance to teach them again. And I am not talking about building block towers or writing the letter B, I am talking about being kind to friends, telling the truth and always doing your best. These are lessons that take years to learn, so get ready to teach them....over and over and over again.