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In The Weeds: Five Ways That Having Kids Ruins Everything

April 27, 2010
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So you think waiting on kids sucks?  Try having one.  Or more. Full time.

If you looked at today’s headline and got all huffy and judgmental, then you either 1) don’t have kids or 2) have kids over the age of ten and have kid-induced amnesia or 3) have convinced yourself that kids are life’s greatest blessing as a defense mechanism to block out the truth, which if acknowledged, might crack the fragile world that you’ve built for yourself.  (If option 3 describes you, stop reading.  I understand, and you are off the hook.  Please continue with the lovely tea party you have planned for the children.)

For the rest of you, I know you don’t want to admit it, but you are feelin’ me today.  Kids ruin everything.

{Disclaimer for the people who still want to call social services:  Yes, we love them.  No, we wouldn’t trade them.  At least not usually.  But this column is not about that.  Today, I’m strictly focusing on the frequent moments of mind-blowing stress brought on by irrational short people who we inexplicably invite to move into our homes).

#5 You Suddenly Live the Life of a Conjoined Twin.

Screaming

No, actually, having a baby is worse than being born a conjoined twin.  If you were born a conjoined twin and grew into your adult life, you would know no other reality.  It wouldn’t be so shocking that you can’t use the bathroom alone.  It wouldn’t really be a big deal that you have to carry someone everywhere you go.  As an adult conjoined twin, you can go out without paying someone $100+ to stay at your house with your twin.  As a conjoined twin, you can have rational conversations with your twin about what you’d both like to eat for dinner.  Conversely, a conversation with a kid regarding dinner goes something like this:
“Hey, it’s yummy!  Spaghetti!  C’mon, open up and eat.”
“No! I don’t want it!  I want candy!”
“No candy.  Eat this dinner or you’re going to bed.”
“I don’t want bed!  I want candy!  I don’t like this!” (flipping spaghetti onto the floor)
“That’s it, in your bed.  Now.”
“No! No! No! No!” (screaming as if being stabbed ensues)

Honestly, most kid behavior would beg institutionalism for an adult. And yet, parents are expected to “nurture” these lunatics every day.

#4 You Are No Longer Hot – Ever.

Rarely

You might clean yourself up and plunk down $100 to go out.  But you will still look slightly beat down and defeated no matter how much mascara you apply.  And secretly, you’d rather just pay someone $100 to let you sleep for three hours in a row.

#3 Your Entire Entertainment Budget is Spent on Alcohol and Netflix

You used to run with a great crowd.  Weekend trips to Mexico, VIP passes to gallery openings and concerts, skiing on a whim.  If anyone in that crowd has yet to have kids, you wouldn’t know because you haven’t heard from them in years.  If they do call, it goes something like this:
“Hey, we are having some people over on Saturday night.  Do you have the kids?”
“Um, yeah.  I ‘have’ them every weekend.  I’m not divorced or anything.  Yet.”
“Aw, man.  Well, if you can get away, come on over.”
“If I could get away, I would buy a one-way ticket to Barbados.  But I can’t get away.  Don’t you get that?  Don’t you see?”
“What?”
“Nevermind.”

#2 The Screaming

Stops

My husband used to ask why I was so stressed at the end of a 13-hour day while I stayed home and he worked in a busy kitchen.  I would lovingly wrap my arms around his neck and say, “I know you had a really long day.  You killed a wicked expo line with artistry while battling defiant line cooks, whining servers, missing runners and bi-polar managers.  I appreciate what you do.  Really, I do. But I have one question for you.  Did anyone get up in your face and do this?”

Putting my nose to his, I would simply scream, for about 10 seconds straight.  That was about all he could take.  “Ten seconds stressing you out a little, babe?  Try 10 hours.”

#1 The Judgment

I think most people go into child rearing thinking it’s going to be kinda fun … like getting a cat.  If anyone could truly comprehend and get a glimpse of the full skill set required to effectively parent, they would crap their pants and then get sterilized.

And yet, generation after generation keeps the secret.  Nobody pulls you aside after marriage and says, “Listen, are you ready to totally let go of everything?  The total sum of what makes you who you are?  Then it’s time to have a baby.”  No!  They smile a frozen smile and say, “So… when are you having a baby?”  I never caught the sinister undertones.

And of course, you feel judged everywhere you go.  Lord have mercy if your kid makes a peep out in public.  You’ll get the eye roll or the down-the-nose stare.  This weekend I had the brilliant idea of taking my two boys to an art museum.  After telling my two-year-old that the security guards were cops who would take him to jail if he touched anything again, he began to cry loudly in the echoing halls of 18th Century American classics.  Naturally, I forced his face into my shoulder to muffle the sound while looking around for the nearest restroom in which to deliver some more serious threats.  A female security guard said calmly, “Please lower the volume.”  “The” volume?  As if I had a remote with a mute button.  I wanted to say, “What?  Asphyxiation by shoulder is not aggressive enough for you?”

Walking onto an airplane with kids in tow is a full circle Karma moment for me.  Only a few short years ago, I was the passenger giving glares to moms who might be thinking about plunking down next to me.

But the worst judgment of all comes from yourself.  Before parenthood, you could do nearly anything and not think twice about “what kind of person that meant you were”.  As a parent, everything comes with self-judgment followed by guilt.  Am I being too mean?  Too nice?  Too impatient?  Too distracted?  Too lazy?  Too indulgent?  Too critical?  Too passive?  Because if this kid turns out rotten, it’s your fault.  And they are going to tell their therapist all about it.

I went to see the movie “Marley and Me” starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston when it was in the theaters a few years ago.  I got cut from a lunch shift and didn’t call the sitter to say I was coming home.  Instead, I walked across the street and caught what I thought would be a “feel good” matinee.  I don’t have a dog, so I didn’t think the whole sad part of the dog dying would stop it from being feel good.  And it didn’t.  What got me was this scene between Wilson and Aniston regarding parenting.  I cried.  A lot.  Like headache for hours cried.  It must have struck a nerve.  Or I was severely sleep deprived.  Either explanation is equally likely.

Aniston: No one tells you how hard
this is all gonna be.

Wilson: Which part?

Aniston: All of it. Marriage, being a parent.
It’s the hardest job in the world and nobody prepares you for that.  Nobody tells you how much you have to give up.
I feel like they do tell you,  but you don’t listen…
or you think, ‘Ah, they’re just miserable.’

I’ve given up so much of what made me who I am.
But I can’t say that because…
I’m a very bad person if I say that.
But I feel it. I really do.
I feel it sometimes. I just-
I just want you to know that.

Wilson: I do know that.
And you can say it. I say it.

Aniston: But I did make a choice.
I made a choice, and even
if it’s harder than I thought…

I don’t regret it.

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10 Responses to “ In The Weeds: Five Ways That Having Kids Ruins Everything ”

  1. Pancake on April 27, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Dear Charity,

    I love you so much. We need to hang. With or without the short lunatics.

    xoxox
    jane

    ps this was timely and awesome.

  2. Laura Dilley on April 27, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Charity, by far this is your best! I laughed out loud, and found myself shaking my head “yes, Yes, YES”. :) You have a true gift my dear. Lets figure out how to get this published…I’m writing Parent’s magazine as we speak. Or maybe we should intervene earlier and send some feelers out to Cosmo and GQ! I love you lady! I sure wish you and Sven and your lunatics were closer so we could commiserate together!

    ps…when I read your title I found myself being defensive…guess I fall in to catagory #3! I’m not sure its defense coping so much as it is survival of the fittest! :)

  3. Shannon on April 27, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I was dying reading this. You nailed it. Great job, and good to know you have the same feelings I do.

  4. Skye on April 27, 2010 at 11:45 am

    the greatest lie feminism ever told was that you can (and be made to feel like you should) do it all (and be happy).

    funny article CJ, but yes, being a parent is the most difficult and thankless job anyone in the world could ever have and doing it well is even harder. stay-at-home mothers should be rewarded by society for trying their damnedest to not raise a bunch of little assholes.

    kudos to all the ass-busting mothers (fathers/parents) out there. i know mine was one and i’m glad she did.

  5. Heidi on April 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Your column is one more reason I am proud to be a little bit frothy. perhaps us and our little snot-nosed kids can indulge in a happier hour this summer. kudos on the kiddos. True all dat.

  6. Bridgid on April 27, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Love the article…Thanks for writing it! Thanks for validating the feelings we can get from time to time…

  7. Nicole on April 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    I loved this so much that I literally snort-laughed while reading. I didn’t get a chance to vote on your topic yesterday, but I was hoping you’d go for this. I’m just surprised that there was no specific mention of boobs under #4. Sigh.

  8. bigcrockofgold on April 27, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Are you on your period or something?

  9. Chef on April 27, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Honey~ With five years of kids in our lives, this is the short list…and the opening of a great book. I like the mom stories the best and still love our soul and money sucking kids

  10. Sloane on April 29, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks, Lady. I’ve been feeling a little down this week; questioning my decision not to procreate, and your blog sent that melancholy packing! Although, I know your wee ones and would gladly trade you one black & tan hound for either of your brats!! they are sweet little boys who worships their Hot Mama.

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