Dressing a windmilling baby is like trying to put a rabbit in a balloon
January 10, 2016 2:02 AM   Subscribe

A new dad's entertaining thoughts on being a parent. "I was congratulating myself today on how I’ve got nappy changing down to a precision art. I’m basically like a Formula One pit crew.. in fact, in many ways, I’m better, because when you’re speed-changing the tyres on Lewis Hamilton’s car he’s probably less likely to piss in your eyes..."
posted by colfax (99 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I might have mentioned this before, but before my first daughter was born, a colleague told me this wild story. She said that baby powder was formulated to smell the way the newborn baby fresh out of the birth canal smells. She said that the smell only lasts a few seconds, so you gotta jam your face in there as the baby is coming out and grab a big whiff of it. Naturally, I was a bit skeptical. Fortunately, it being modern times I was able to Google it and realize that she was full of shit before I did something that I would regret.
posted by Literaryhero at 2:28 AM on January 10, 2016 [27 favorites]


If you liked that you'll probably like this too:
http://www.ironycentral.com/babymain.html
posted by Jacqueline at 3:02 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I can't find the "put a rabbit in a balloon" video link? Sounds like a hell of a magic trick! (...if you can find a calm rabbit that can tolerate being 'popped' out of the balloon for the finale.)
posted by fairmettle at 4:53 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Shhhhhhhh ! nobody tell him that, compared to having an adolescent, having an infant is a walk in the park...
posted by HuronBob at 5:22 AM on January 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


I am metafiltering right now at 5 am on a Sunday morning having been kicked out of my bed by a 4 year old and 6 year old who *both* decided to have nightmares. Fury Road was playing in the background before they went to bed while I was trying to quiet their cries by programming the DVR to *never* delete any episodes of Wild Kratts because apparently the Desert Owl one is like the early childhood Citizen Kane and its accidental removal was like the loss of an irreplaceable cultural artifact in the house. Speaking of crying, it used to mean "i'm poopy" or "im hungry", now it means "my brother has pulled my hair out by the roots so I pushed him down the stairs while you were trying to go to the bathroom in peace" or "I'm inconsolable because my favorite pair of socks that I've worn for three days is in the washing machine" or worse, "I'm poopy."

6 years. Zero books, maybe 3 movies, maybe a half dozen quiet dinners out with my wife at $15 an hour babysitting so we could talk about whether the kids were ok while we were out and maybe we should go home early.

Good luck indeed, Matt. We've all been there, and most of us miss the simplicity of the infant years. Pee and poop and crying are nothing compared to getting a three year old to brush his teeth on a semi regular basis.

ps. You might not have realized this yet because you're still in love with this magical being and its all new, but you should be advised that the childless care nothing about the humorous stories of child rearing, even peppered with four letter words. You should move over to The Secret Internet for parents now, memail for details.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:31 AM on January 10, 2016 [60 favorites]


most of us miss the simplicity of the infant years.

Challenge! Babies are, at best, boring. You can play with toddlers and little kids, on the other hand.
posted by jpe at 5:36 AM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Slarty Bartfast, I know that feel, bro.

I have yet to find the age/stage that is without its periods of complete torment. I volunteer to run almost all the household errands just to get some quiet time because three year olds never ever ever ever stop talking. Waiting in line at Home Depot is a therapeutic spa treatment. And because I'm Mommy and my son has failed to read his assigned Sarah Hrdy and is convinced that I am the only adult in the house who can do anything, being home is a crushing stream of requests-slash-demands from a creature who views having someone watch him reenact one of the only three Calliou episodes he will watch (over and over and over) as a requirement akin to respiration.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:53 AM on January 10, 2016 [16 favorites]


Varies so much from kid to kid. My daughter is five now and every day is a joy. We watch star wars and debate Vader's decision to join the dark side, we read books together, I even took her skiing this year and we had a blast!

Meanwhile as a baby she did not sleep or eat. For months. A month out she was still birth weight and had never slept for more than two hours at a time. We're trying for another now and I live in abject fear of that first year.

On the other hand, my sister in law's kids did nothing but eat and sleep until they were old enough to be toddlers. Now her house is a warzone and I dread going over there. How she must feel I can't imagine.
posted by teh_boy at 6:03 AM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


An exhausted friend of mine takes his two year old to the park and sits down on the bench next to a woman with a double stroller, multiple backpacks filled with snacks, sunscreen, jackets, toys, and several water bottles.

My friend gives a long loud yawn.

"They certainly wear you out don't they?" She comments.

"Yeah, the Terrible Twos, you know, they sure weren't lying about that one."

"Just wait til you get to the Fucking Threes."
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:06 AM on January 10, 2016 [14 favorites]


"*never* delete any episodes of Wild Kratts because apparently the Desert Owl one is like the early childhood Citizen Kane and its accidental removal was like the loss of an irreplaceable cultural artifact in the house."

Lies! Everyone knows Lemur Stink Fight is the pinnacle of the Kratts' oeuvre.

The dad in the OP does correctly identify newborn breathing as THE WORST. OMG breathe in some kind of rhythm you stupid baby!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:23 AM on January 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


I have yet to find the age/stage that is without its periods of complete torment.

My son is 26 and is quite the wonderful young man. I can't really recommend any ages before about 23 though.
posted by octothorpe at 6:41 AM on January 10, 2016 [34 favorites]


The lightning switcheroo is KEY when changing AMAB diapers. Ask my nephew how I know
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:43 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Just wait til you get to the Fucking Threes."

Threenagers, yeah. It's rock and roll.
posted by mhoye at 6:45 AM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


These articles always come off as Stockholm syndrome. "Here's the most miserable shit my life is become but it's so worth it"
posted by Ferreous at 6:58 AM on January 10, 2016 [26 favorites]


Mod note: A couple of comments deleted. Sorry, but saying you aren't going to post a derailing rant, and then posting the substance of the rant anyway doesn't work well. If you want to talk about schools and inequality, you might try over here.
posted by taz (staff) at 7:00 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I live a 40-minute drive from my parents, and I could almost hear the sigh of relief from here when my youngest sister left for college. By the time she moved out, they had been parenting continuously for 28 years.

Sometimes she and I realize that she missed some key piece of pop culture that my dad carefully introduced me to as a kid, and invariably the answer for why she didn't get the same introduction is that he was goddamn tired.

(it probably didn't help that I reportedly slept through the night at 4 weeks, taught myself to read, and didn't become Difficult until they already had two other kids to worry about. They were NOT prepared.)
posted by nonasuch at 7:02 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


> "We watch star wars and debate Vader's decision to join the dark side ..."

Just out of curiosity, which one of you takes the "pro dark side" position?
posted by kyrademon at 7:13 AM on January 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


My co-worker just left on paternity leave this week as his wife was about to give birth to twin boys. They have a two year old girl already so suddenly their going to have three kids under the age of three. I can't even imagine.
posted by octothorpe at 7:13 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


. I volunteer to run almost all the household errands just to get some quiet time because three year olds never ever ever ever stop talking.

oh, they do - and THAT'S when you'd better run and find out what they're up to
posted by pyramid termite at 7:26 AM on January 10, 2016 [15 favorites]


Just out of curiosity, which one of you takes the "pro dark side" position?

Judging from the rest of this thread I assume the parent is on the pro-murder side.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:43 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Duct tape. Terrible twos or fucking threes? Let's play wrap the mummy! You're it! It's swaddling for toddlers.
posted by AugustWest at 7:51 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Reading parenting threads does nothing to reverse my profound and long-standing lack of interest in becoming a parent.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:54 AM on January 10, 2016 [19 favorites]


I'm pregnant and due in a bit less than four weeks. Totally terrified. Yep.
posted by sciencegeek at 8:06 AM on January 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


To respond to the numerous memails I received about the Secret Internet for parents, I will copy my response here:
It's mostly MeFi threads about kids. This thread will go on for 95 comments with amusing anecdotes about kids, favorited by other parents, with 4 or 5 comments like "this is why I never plan to have kids, and you shouldn't have." Also your Facebook feed becomes only other parents you know from school or the few old friends from college who happen to have kids the same age.

Metafilter: the only friend you've got in the middle of the night when your kid has a fever and is throwing up.

Good luck, I love my little dudes with all my heart.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:23 AM on January 10, 2016 [32 favorites]


These type of articles always involve paragraphs of gritty details about how absolutely terrible raising children is followed by the conclusion "...and I wouldn't have it any other way, I love JR so very much." As a person skeptically regarding having a hypothetical future child myself, I'd appreciate input from parents about how you cross the chasm from "thanks to my child I haven't done anything fun in six years" to "I'm so glad I have one"?
posted by loquacious crouton at 8:24 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Although, now that I think of it, Parentfilter would be an amazingly useful subsite and it would help us breeders self-segregate with our tiresome complaints. Ironically, no parent would have the time to create or moderate such a site. Someone get on that, ok?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:28 AM on January 10, 2016 [24 favorites]


Parentfilter would be an amazingly useful subsite

Yes, please, this!
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:33 AM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


, I'd appreciate input from parents about how you cross the chasm from "thanks to my child I haven't done anything fun in six years" to "I'm so glad I have one"?

you've heard of schrodinger's cat? - this is the phenomenon known as schrodinger's child, except that it's infinitely repeatable
posted by pyramid termite at 8:38 AM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'd appreciate input from parents about how you cross the chasm from "thanks to my child I haven't done anything fun in six years" to "I'm so glad I have one"?


On a good day: You look at this beautiful child you created and nurtured and taught, who has his own emotions and amazingly true observations about how the world works and, holding your hand with total dependence, love, and trust, is learning the skills to navigate the hostile universe while preserving all that you know is good and unique about him. You are filled with an overwhelming love that you've never known before and for the first time since you were like ten years old, you possess hope for he future.

On a bad day: I have a genetic program that is making me feel like this is worth it.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:41 AM on January 10, 2016 [32 favorites]


to continue with my theme, many things in the quantum level of reality can be perceived as a wave or a particle - in the parenting level of reality, they can be perceived as "my precious little angel" or "this demon spawn from hell"
posted by pyramid termite at 8:44 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, on the one hand I'm continually amazed by the incredible shit toddlerozzy says. There are so many more things she knows than I realize and it gives me heartfeels when she demonstrates them.

On the other hand, I am 95% sure that somebody reached into the little flap on her skull this morning and turned her to maximum naughty and it is exhausting.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:49 AM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


"As a person skeptically regarding having a hypothetical future child myself, I'd appreciate input from parents about how you cross the chasm from "thanks to my child I haven't done anything fun in six years" to "I'm so glad I have one"?"

I think it's different for everyone. I find babies pretty tedious and dull, but once they start talking they're HILARIOUS to me and they're an endless source of amusement and delight. Plus I like watching their brains figure out how to brain, that is possibly the most interesting thing I've ever gotten to do as an adult and there's no better way to watch this phenomenon than parenting your own.

But yeah, like other parents get super-frustrated at 3-year-old tantrums and I frequently find myself stifling giggles or having to leave the room to laugh because I find their total lack of logic SO AMUSING. (On the flip side, kids who are used to their parents getting super-tense when they throw down a tantrum are very taken aback when I'm babysitting and they start and I crack up and they're like "It's NOT FUNNY!" and I'm like, "Well, it's pretty funny ... .") Other people really love the age where their kids turn into tiny geeks, or the age where they start interacting, or whatever. Enjoyment of your kids, and of parenting, comes and goes as they go in and out of phases that you like and dislike, identify with and can't stand.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:52 AM on January 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


Schrodinger's child is right on. I couldn't tell you how it happens (and it does and doesn't happen simultaneously at every moment), it just does (and doesn't).

My big pro for having children later in life is that I already had plenty of time to experience what my life was like without children and in my case it was pretty boring, so the opportunity cost for a kid was low. The con is that I'm 41 parenting a threenager while working full time and I'm fucking tired. Swings and roundabouts.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:52 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Oxytocin is a hell of a drug.
posted by trunk muffins at 8:52 AM on January 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'd appreciate input from parents about how you cross the chasm from "thanks to my child I haven't done anything fun in six years" to "I'm so glad I have one"?
You make a person.
posted by fullerine at 8:53 AM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


ok but what if i make a cake instead.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:55 AM on January 10, 2016 [38 favorites]


The main thing that baffled me about his post was how he didn't seem to realise giving birth wasn't actually like on sitcoms. I don't have or intend to have kids, but even I know that giving birth is pretty painful in the best of circumstances and in the worst can leave people with permanent disabilities or end in death. Is he particularly ignorant, or is it part of men generally not investigating/having interest in the experiences women live through (of which one is labour)?
posted by theseldomseenkid at 8:59 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


"ok but what if i make a cake instead."

If you start out trying to make a person and end up with a cake, definitely call your doctor.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:01 AM on January 10, 2016 [32 favorites]


that's what you get for marrying poppin fresh
posted by pyramid termite at 9:07 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Well, we tried making a person, but we got distracted in the kitchen.

Changing one baby is nothing. Try changing two babies at once. But I'm not sure why he doesn't do it on the floor, as there would be no danger of them crawling off the bed.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:09 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Reading parenting threads does nothing to reverse my profound and long-standing lack of interest in becoming a parent

Ah, the inevitable "I don't even own a TV" of parenting threads.
posted by The Gooch at 9:09 AM on January 10, 2016 [28 favorites]


Ah, the inevitable "I don't even own a TV" of parenting threads.

personally as someone also completely disinterested in ever having children I read that comment in my brain with a sort of baffled awe rather than [partially stifled fart noise]
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 9:14 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Is he particularly ignorant, or is it part of men generally not investigating/having interest in the experiences women live through (of which one is labour)?"

I give him a bit of a pass; I think as prepared as you can be -- taking the classes, hearing the stories from friends, etc. -- a lot of it is just unexpected when you experience it. Like, I've been around babies my whole life, and when preparing for my own I read a billion books and took the class and so on, and I just felt totally unprepared for the SHEER PHYSICALITY of new motherhood. Both of you leaking fluids from all available orifices. Constantly touching-touching-touching. All of these BODY-related tasks -- caring for incisions and cleaning things you don't usually mess with and feeding and burping and pooping and smearing cream on all kinds of things and cracking and bleeding and shooting milk at your husband from six feet away because HEY BOOBS CAN BE AIMED and ... I am a person who lives more in my head and I don't think I was capable of understanding the physicality of the experience until I'd been through it. (And I did not like it. I really, really did not like the physicality of it. I like it better in my nice clean brain thank you.) Like, I knew all these things would happen, but I didn't know what that meant until I went through it. I was really well-prepared for some parts of parenting, but other parts, although I was intellectually aware of them, were just startling in their actual experience.

I do think for a lot of men the actual experience of their partner in labor is a shock. When we watched the video in birthing class, my husband almost fainted and then wanted to know if we could change our minds about having the baby, because in birthing class they show you a very explicit video of all the WORST parts so you're prepared. (I ended up delivering the non-standard way, so we'll never know if he would have actually fainted during the event. But HE MIGHT HAVE, he's not super-good with blood.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:15 AM on January 10, 2016 [29 favorites]


If you start out trying to make a person and end up with a cake, definitely call your doctor.

I think we've covered that already.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:17 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


That bit about Alien and chestbursters is straight out of Coupling, a sitcom at least 15 years old. I dunno, maybe I'm just in a sleep-deprived grump but this is such trite stuff I've seen versions of from every Facebook-posting new dad that I could have predicted every word of it.
posted by threetwentytwo at 9:24 AM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


every generation is condemned to reinvent Erma Bombeck
posted by thelonius at 9:28 AM on January 10, 2016 [14 favorites]


Yeah at the young age, you know that you put your hand in poop and you get cool with it. In the slightly older age of 4 and 7, when I have to use the kids' bathroom, there are days where I know I am sitting on dried (or wet) pee and poop... and yeah, that can make mornings a bit knowledgeably gross... but, when I do get to take my shower after they leave, I know my bum will be clean, until then - hot water and copious amounts of soap on my hands and face help me get through making their breakfast and lunch for school. So yeah, I may have been crapped on occasionally when they were babies, but now, I walk around knowing what gross little currs I am trying to teach to become polite company. I've got a long road ahead of me.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:33 AM on January 10, 2016


One thing I've always thought would be great is if you could swap a few days - have the odd teenage day in the toddler age and a couple of toddler days during the teenage years. It would give a bit of variety. When they were tiny I was desperate to talk to them; when they got big I would have loved one more chance to hug the toddlers. I still would now they're big adult people, actually.
posted by Segundus at 9:36 AM on January 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


I have an almost 16 year old and I think I have found the trick for parenting teenagers (at least MY teenager...YMMV). They revert back to being toddlers in rapidly changing bodies during adolescence. They are grumpy, they throw tantrums if they don't get their way, they need lots of sleep (LOTS!) and they stay hungry which adds to the grumpy. If you get back into the parenting mindset of "ok, she has become a demanding, much more expensive toddler" and approach parenting that way, things may smooth out. My daughter agrees with this theory quite readily. She cherishes her naps, wants me to pack her snacks, no one can touch her new colors and coloring books that Santa brought and if she is being difficult, me telling her to 'grow up' is code for 'stop acting like a toddler. It's worked well and the teen years have been pretty wonderful. Now, if only she would let me dress her in light blue and pink again like I did when she was three. These days, it's all grays and black. Oh, and lots of love. She may shrug off the hugs at times but chase them down. Lots of love.
posted by pearlybob at 9:36 AM on January 10, 2016 [15 favorites]


The best analogy for the childless may be that parenting is like having a vocation. Like being a writer or a stonemason or a chef. There are endless aggravations but they are in service of a goal that is bigger than yourself and gives your life a lot of meaning and structures your identity. It's not like a job you think about quitting--it's your entire personality that's been (and is continually being) reshaped.

I personally love every aspect of it so far but we'll see how that chipper attitude stands up to more additions.

Also I think something that this dad hasn't learned yet is that while there is lots of common ground there is as much diversity in parenting experiences as there is in everything else on earth. Some people have really easy labor and really tough post partum times. Some kids sleep through the night for 9 months then suddenly regress. More than anything, be prepared for totally unexpected changes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:43 AM on January 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


 I still would now they're big adult people, actually.

At some point in your child's life, you're going to put them down and never pick them up again.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:02 AM on January 10, 2016 [46 favorites]


Oh my gosh that's the saddest, truest thing.
posted by Night_owl at 10:12 AM on January 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


Challenge accepted!

The trick is to keep picking them up on a regular basis, to stay strong enough to physically lift them. You think a squirmy 1 year old is heavy and awkward to carry? Try a squirmy four year old.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:16 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


threetwentytwo: I dunno, maybe I'm just in a sleep-deprived grump but this is such trite stuff I've seen versions of from every Facebook-posting new dad that I could have predicted every word of it.

I think there are a couple things at play here. First, fathers generally don't do as much pre-parenting reading and preparing as mothers do. Second, many first-time parents imagine they are in some way going through all this for the first time in the history of the world, so they share their experiences with a sense of wonder and amazement. Especially for people who haven't been around kids for a while. Third, there are only so many jokes to be made about situations, so lots of the same jokes get re-told, even if the person telling the joke hasn't heard it before.

Nothing is new under the sun, except it's a new experience for new parents. Humor them, smile at their jokes, nod knowingly, and remind them it'll all change in a few weeks or months. (Just don't tell them it'll get better or worse, because you'll be both right and wrong, and that new parent will hate you.)
posted by filthy light thief at 10:27 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I became an uncle not too long ago, and meeting my nephew was far more anxiety-provoking than I thought it would be. I was sort of expecting to meet him and be wowed by some sort of biological recognition that my partner and I should be making babies, but instead I was just freaked out at the sight of how tired his parents are. It's like he's out of the womb, but is still basically a tiny little human larva-like creature that is constantly having to be attached to his mother for food. His parents get no sleep, and basically every minute of every day is centered around this baby.

That said, the last night I was in town, having spent the whole visit kind of scared of this kid, I ended up having to give him his bottle. And then I realized I was getting really into it, and then he fell asleep and I kept watching him to make sure he was comfortable and happy ("you guys, he's making little sleep noises like a person! He's a little person!"). And there were moments, in spite of the fear (compounded by the very real threat of getting spit up on my shirt), that it was really neat to realize I was watching his brain developing. Other animals go through so much of this in utero, but human babies get an extra long time to turn into functional, thinking people, the end result being that every moment of every day for like 10 years is formative, and you can be a part of that.

My partner and I have been talking about the possibility of having kids, and I honestly don't know how I feel. I'm not at all anti-kid, but things like this are just absolutely terrifying to me because you have to make some sort of decision whether or not to have kids. You either do or you don't, and the clock's ticking according to literally everyone.

Well, I'm still looking forward to playing guitar and singing for my nephew when he gets a little older, like my dad did for me.

Shoot, sorry if this wasn't 100% on topic. But man, what a timely and terrifying post.
posted by teponaztli at 10:35 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


every generation is condemned to reinvent Erma Bombeck

The quantum parenting model predicts that the universe is circular and Erma Bombeck-shaped.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:36 AM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


The first words I heard this morning were "I throwed up" over the baby monitor. She's on puke #3 of the day as of 3 minutes ago. Parenting, ladies and gents.
posted by town of cats at 10:44 AM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm not at all anti-kid, but things like this are just absolutely terrifying to me because you have to make some sort of decision whether or not to have kids. You either do or you don't, and the clock's ticking according to literally everyone.

I know this feel, too (see also: why I had my first and only child at age 38). What kept me up at night was the thought that yeah, right now I'm pretty happy with the status quo but what if I'm 50 and too old to have kids and suddenly feel that pang of regret? And then I'm SOL?

I've never been the Earth Mother type who always knew I'd have a passel of offspring and love nothing more than to care for children. But I think I decided that I also didn't hate the notion of children of my own (well, child of my own, singular, as I'm an only child and only ever saw myself parenting 0-1 children) and that the ambivalence tipped me over into the "yes" column. Basically I decided that if I didn't hate it, I could probably learn to love it once in the thick of it.

But then I figured out that it's not really the "it" that I love so much as the "him." I'm still not an Earth Mother, and I still look for as many opportunities as possible for people who are not me to take care of him (I'm lucky in this as our life is replete with many grandparents and also daycare and also his dad is a total 50/50 parent or tries to be) because I'm an introvert and having this motor-mouthed barnacle attached to me is exhausting, but I love him. When he is upset (like, legit upset, not I'm three and totally irrational and I'm wearing the wrong color socks upset), I get upset. When he's happy, it's a joy for me to behold. He's hilarious (I'm laughing at him, not with him) and every time he learns something new I want to shout it from the rooftops (I don't). The daily tasks of parenting are a slog and I am highly suspicious of anyone who says they enjoy them. But the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Or it might be Stockholm Syndrome. I'm open to that interpretation.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:52 AM on January 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


"The first words I heard this morning were "I throwed up" over the baby monitor. "

Our kids got walkie-talkies for Christmas, and the first night they took one up to bed and left one with us and suddenly we hear, "I need a new pullup, OVER."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:56 AM on January 10, 2016 [35 favorites]


At some point in your child's life, you're going to put them down and never pick them up again.

oh my God, mom, please stop crying
posted by clockzero at 11:25 AM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


> I have an almost 16 year old and I think I have found the trick for parenting teenagers (at least MY teenager...YMMV). They revert back to being toddlers in rapidly changing bodies during adolescence. They are grumpy, they throw tantrums if they don't get their way, they need lots of sleep (LOTS!) and they stay hungry which adds to the grumpy...

This seems like a rather brilliant insight that I will pass on to my particular loved ones undergoing this particular bafflement at the moment. tx <3
posted by taz at 11:30 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


At some point in your child's life, you're going to put them down and never pick them up again.


I am still crying.
posted by telepanda at 11:39 AM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Skimming in the minutes between tending to almost-three-month-old ...

... where is this secret internet for parents, please let me get in on it, I have my poop/pee/spit-up/milk covered Parent ID card somewhere in the laundry heap ...
posted by aperturescientist at 11:55 AM on January 10, 2016


Non parents always talk about shit, and the truth is this - I will deal with any amount of shot now without blinking an eye, it's the SCREAMING that gets you.
posted by Artw at 11:56 AM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


For me, its not the sleep deprivation as such- I've lived on less than five hours sleep for more than a decade. It's the uncertainty . Before Christmas my six month old was sleeping from midnight to eight, which was wonderful. The last week or so, up every two hours. Last night, when we were properly at the end of our tether- eight hours. Completely unpredictable!
posted by threetwentytwo at 12:11 PM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


My kid's only a couple days younger than the guy's son from the article. (So sign me up for The Secret Internet for parents, too.) I haven't slept much the past 3 months, but yet that smile I get first thing in the morning makes it all worthwhile. I don't expect anyone else to understand.
posted by Catblack at 1:43 PM on January 10, 2016


ps. You might not have realized this yet because you're still in love with this magical being and its all new, but you should be advised that the childless care nothing about the humorous stories of child rearing, even peppered with four letter words. You should move over to The Secret Internet for parents now, memail for details.

Are the childless allowed to lurk on the Secret Internet? I don't have kids but I do like reading humorous accounts of kid hijinks and parenting travails.
posted by aka burlap at 1:46 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Challenge accepted!

The trick is to keep picking them up on a regular basis, to stay strong enough to physically lift them. You think a squirmy 1 year old is heavy and awkward to carry? Try a squirmy four year old.


Try a healthy 24 year old - who still wants to be carried around and sit on your lap.

Actually, both my kids are wonderful, and while I remember being stressed out, I don't remember why.

I wrote diaries about their first months, and recently the elder found hers somewhere in storage. The surprising thing is that I was much more accepting and relaxed about the obvious challenges than I remember being.

To younger mefites: in my own view and in that of my family, I was an old mother at 29. But reading that diary, I can see I still had the happy-go-lucky attitude of a young mum. Just do it. We lived on a stone for more than 10 years, but a young mum can handle a lot of stuff through sheer physical strength.

Every single day brings happiness when you are a parent. My ex (and this is why he is my ex) had a very severe postpartum depression. But now he is even more joyous than I am about parenting, even now when our child is almost adult. He was scared almost to death when I was pregnant and she was born. But now, he cannot imagine life without her.

And hey, for all the talk about formula cars, this guy is less than professional. Changing a diaper is simple. If you don't get it, you are not a tech person.
posted by mumimor at 2:05 PM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


every generation is condemned to reinvent Erma Bombeck

When, in fact, we should be reinventing Jean Kerr. Or Shirley Jackson's Life Among the Savages.

I'd appreciate input from parents about how you cross the chasm from "thanks to my child I haven't done anything fun in six years" to "I'm so glad I have one"?

Try to not have the chasm in the first place? I can't emphasize this enough -- you find your people and you make sure you don't internalize the expectation that parenting is the sun around which your life revolves. It's just one bright star in The Constellation Of You, to make a clumsy metaphor.

Sure, the day-to-day can a slog sometimes. I found the first year of my daughter's life to be challenging. She didn't sleep for longer than two hours at a stretch, so there was the sleep deprivation thing. And then there's the nature of caring for a baby: You're effectively in a very living-in-the-present, very reactive mode. For an introvert who requires a lot of time in her head for daydreaming, not having sufficient, predictable mental space to myself was the hardest part to parenting a baby.

But it was only one year of her life. And as I told myself then, if I could survive a year of college-level organic chemistry, I could survive a year of parenting a baby. Besides, babies are fun because you can zerbert their bellies, and they look hilarious eleven times a day, and their experiences are fun to observe and live vicariously.

And babies are only babies for a little bit, and so the circle of fun you can have both with and without your child widens every year.
posted by sobell at 2:14 PM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


There are endless aggravations but they are in service of a goal that is bigger than yourself and gives your life a lot of meaning and structures your identity.

I don't experience it like that. That way sounds hard, demanding, and boring. Parenting is those things, I guess, but kids are a lot of fun. It's nice to have someone around that is as happy as I am to spend time throwing rocks at that one tree, or singing stupid made up songs or whatever. Even their little meltdowns are sorta funny.

As a whole, parenting is *funny*. Even the stupid stuff, like when spray painted my car. He was like, "this way we'll find it easier in the parking lot." And I mean.....he was right. And to be fair, I never told him *not* to do it.
posted by jpe at 2:14 PM on January 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


At some point in your child's life, you're going to put them down and never pick them up again.

well not with that attitude

sounds like you need a good fitness program focused on core strength

i'll need to know more about your picking up plans though, do you intend to overhead squat your children? or just bicep curl them?
posted by poffin boffin at 2:26 PM on January 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


I wonder if I'll ever understand this "parenting" thing. Three years in, and all I can say is that this stuff is almost impossibly hard, and I have tremendous new respect for both my wife and my mother. Sure, the little guy is cute occasionally, but man.... "Every single day brings happiness when you're a parent"??? "One day you'll pick him up for the last time"? Hell, I'm just waiting for him to move out and get a job....
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:50 PM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


A friend recently described having a dog as something along the lines of "I love this dog, he makes my life better, but on some level the amount of commitment is a burden and not having him would make my life easier." I think that's how I feel about kids. On a part-time basis they sound super-fun - my nieces and nephews are adorable, hilarious kids and it's been fun watching them grow up. But I am in no way willing to make the commitment to a child of my own. That's what always stops me dead when I get those impulsive thoughts about spawning.
posted by bendy at 3:12 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'd appreciate input from parents about how you cross the chasm from "thanks to my child I haven't done anything fun in six years" to "I'm so glad I have one"?

I think there are a few components, but a big one is that you simply redefine "fun." I read somewhere that when you have your first child, your life as you know it ends forever; but, you get a new life in its place. That rings very true to me. We don't go on vacations anymore, but we have a great time exploring all the parks, museums, etc. in our town. We don't go out to restaurants much anymore, but we have really nice family meals together at home. Also, when we do manage to get out we truly appreciate the experience and savor it. We don't have much time for our own hobbies at the moment, but we love watching our 2 year old in his soccer class. There is a lot of joy watching the world vicariously through your kid, which makes it easier to accept that your life is objectively kinda dull.
posted by gatorae at 4:12 PM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Slarty Bartfast: Although, now that I think of it, Parentfilter would be an amazingly useful subsite and it would help us breeders self-segregate with our tiresome complaints. Ironically, no parent would have the time to create or moderate such a site. Someone get on that, ok?

1. We already have it, as you later pointed out - it's any thread about kids. We just need to tag those posts "ParentFilter" for ease of discovery.
2. At least one mod is a parent - Eyebrows McGee! (Thanks!)
posted by filthy light thief at 4:39 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


At some point in your child's life, you're going to put them down and never pick them up again.


This is the finest piece of insight I've read on MeFi in months and will be the topic of my wife and my post nookie conversation tonight.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 4:44 PM on January 10, 2016


This is the finest piece of insight I've read on MeFi in months

It's not original to me.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:48 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Anyone who thinks yawns are contagious has never yawned in front of a baby.
posted by Catblack at 6:53 PM on January 10, 2016


You might not have realized this yet because you're still in love with this magical being and its all new, but you should be advised that the childless care nothing about the humorous stories of child rearing, even peppered with four letter words.

I'd appreciate input from parents about how you cross the chasm from "thanks to my child I haven't done anything fun in six years" to "I'm so glad I have one"?

The best analogy for the childless may be that parenting is like having a vocation.

My analogy (as a non parent) is that it’s like having a substance addiction. There’s a lot of suffering, justification, denial, bending of morals and gross things you never thought you’d do, but also some damn good times where everything is just perfect. Those good times and the promise of more cloud your judgment and drag you through the rest. You lose some friends who don’t mesh with your single issue obsessive lifestyle, you gain some new ones that do and trade knowledge of the ins and outs.

Addicts in recovery will talk about how they’re grateful to have gone through what they did even though it was so hard, and how they are better people for it, having grown in ways they never would have otherwise.

Non addicts won’t hear most of the stories and when they do they’re dumbstruck, "why would anyone do that to themselves?" So addicts tend to keep the stories among themselves to avoid judgment and try to explain the unexplainable. The stories they tell are an equal blend of horror stories that fellow addicts amazingly and simultaneously respond to with sympathy, laughter, and grimacing, and tales of good times that sound like horror stories to outsiders.

Addiction is probably cheaper in the long run, depending, parenting maybe less likely to end up in jail, depending. It’s a coin toss basically.
posted by bongo_x at 7:04 PM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


1. We already have it, as you later pointed out - it's any thread about kids. We just need to tag those posts "ParentFilter" for ease of discovery.

Oh god no, every other thread about having kids on MeFi is an utter trash fire.
posted by Artw at 7:10 PM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


i'll need to know more about your picking up plans though, do you intend to overhead squat your children? or just bicep curl them?

what do you mean 'just' bicep curl, that would be way harder
posted by clockzero at 7:38 PM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


filthy light thief: "2. At least one mod is a parent - Eyebrows McGee! (Thanks!)"

And don't make me come back there! I don't care who started it, just stop it! I WILL TURN THIS INTERNET AROUND, I SWEAR TO GOD.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:44 PM on January 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


At some point in your child's life, you're going to put them down and never pick them up again.
I said this to my mother in October. She picked me up. I am 36.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:55 PM on January 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


Grandchildren...really that's why....
posted by OhSusannah at 9:26 PM on January 10, 2016


YES, bongo_x. I spent my whole last maternity leave listening to the Velvet Underground. Being home full time with a newborn in that haze of sleep deprivation and confusion and hormones is as close as I'll ever get to a truly epic heroin binge, I imagine. The highs are so high, the lows are so low, and nobody gets what you're going through except other people going through the same thing. You're outside of the societal structures that have ordered your life for as long as you can remember. Normal schedules don't apply to you.

Maternity leave is STRANGE. Parenthood got a lot less weird once I went back to my job. I don't know how people parent full time indefinitely. I didn't have the guts.
posted by town of cats at 10:06 PM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'd appreciate input from parents about how you cross the chasm from "thanks to my child I haven't done anything fun in six years" to "I'm so glad I have one"?

Back when I thought I'd never have a kid, I read a comment here on metafilter about how a parent of an infant sometimes spent hours just staring at their kid with their partner and talking about how great they were. And my husband and I have that conversation like 4-6 times a day about our toddler. She is just so so funny and cute and weird and constantly asks us to dance with her, walk with her, lie on a towel in front of the TV and drink hot chocolate with her, go out and play in the rain with her. It's hard work but it's incredibly joyful work, and fun, like it reminds you of being a toddler again, of being a child again, Christmas lights are magical again and knock-knock jokes are hilarious and jokes about poop are the best ever and sometimes they throw their arms around you and hug you so tight and you wonder "Where did they learn that?" and then you realize that they learned it from you, because you've been hugging them all this time, even when they were a tiny little larva who couldn't do much besides puke and grunt.

When I was a teenager, I was really into books about girls who met their vampire soulmates and how there would be this moment of recognition when you met your vampire, "Oh, hi, you were the person I was meant to love all along." Romantic love has been pretty different from that for me, but the love I have for my daughter has been pretty much like that, maybe not from moment 1, but from, let's say, day 3 or so. This person I'd carried who still smelled like creamy floral vernix who knew my voice and needed me and her eyes were mine and suddenly all the love songs were about her, and like two years later we'll be sitting around on the carpet kissing each other, open-mouthed sloppy toddler kisses, and we're watching Steven Universe and I hear this--

Where did we go?
What did we do?
I think we made something
Entirely new
And it wasn't quite me
And it wasn't quite you
I think it was someone
Entirely new


--and just burst into tears. And here's the scary thing: your baby is kind of your soulmate, but your job is to pour all that loving into them and release them into the world. You are not the one for them the same way they are for you, but maybe someday they'll have a kid and it'll be raspberries and puddle dances and stickers everywhere, quiet moments where their babies ask to see the stars in the middle of the night and they tell them that every star is a sun and their kids just say "Wow," in a quiet voice and they feel the wonder of the world everywhere.

Maybe it's not like that for everyone, though. Maybe my kid really is just that special.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:07 PM on January 10, 2016 [22 favorites]


I guess that doesn't answer the question, about drudgery and getting stuff done and getting to a place of enjoying it, but it's like, what's it matter if you don't do anything apparently exciting or even particularly worthwhile to other people when there is real bonafide magic in your daily life? Which isn't to say that a lot of it isn't daily drudgery but the happy moments in my life are more frequent and intense between the drudgery, so it works out.

Having kids has been a pretty A plus experience, all things considered, even when she was projectile pooping clear across her nursery.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:33 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


If you haven't done anything fun in six years then your kid isn't to blame, sorry.
posted by ODiV at 10:41 PM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


I would also like to say that the problem perhaps is simply that it is really quite hard to go back on a rash decision to produce and then raise children. Some people (me included) find kids endlessly fascinating at all ages and apart from the occasional hard slog (usually brought on by illness), find the process deeply entertaining and enlightening. Perhaps the very little opportunity most teens get to care for and experience small children is to blame: so many people get into this major sport without any opportunity to try it a little first.
posted by holist at 11:38 PM on January 10, 2016


Haven't read comments yet, but I am very disappointed to learn that this "World Cup Panini Sticker Book" just seems to contain stickers of the players, not say, sandwiches around the world. Yes, that is what I learned from this article.
posted by ktkt at 12:08 AM on January 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


That bit about Alien and chestbursters is straight out of Coupling, a sitcom at least 15 years old.

And earlier than that - probably back to two minutes after the first audience left the Alien premiere? It's one of those things that's perennially popular because it feels like such a shocking, taboo-breaking thing to say, but the effect is weakened somewhat by a) everyone saying the same thing and b) the film very deliberately trying to invoke that comparison in the first place.

Personally I think we should be trying harder to broaden our pregnancy/birth/parenting sci-fi analogies. Parenting a toddler: it's like being sent to Dagobah for your Jedi training! You had these vague ideas in your head of what you expect, and then you get there and it's all swamps and rain and an irritating small person poking you and stealing your food, until just as you get really fed up with it and pining for the more interesting and important things you imagine your friends are doing, the small person starts giving you really profound life lessons (albeit in strange grammar) and showing you how to lift X-Wings out of swamps, and you realise you'll need to rebuild all your perceptions from the ground up. Also you have to confront the spectral forms of your own parents/parent-figures, and you need to rebuild your emotional reactions to everything, and you have to hike about a lot carrying a small demanding figure in a backpack. It works!

(I can also do pregnancy-as-Cloverfield. I do not miss being pregnant.)
posted by Catseye at 12:31 AM on January 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


Also, FWIW, I totally love when you guys tell hilarious stories about your kids.

I only have the aunt perspective (and that's all I ever intend to have), but I feel almost transported to another world when hanging with the toddlers. We have a magical fun time doing what would seem like nothing in my regular life. I wake up at the crack of dawn just to see them more, and they will charm me pretty much all day long. It's this right here, right now attention magnet, and when I am with them, I don't want to be doing other things. They are hilarious and sweet, and almost everything is new to them. Certainly I can see the appeal. Except the deal comes with so much poop and sleep deprivation :)
posted by ktkt at 1:27 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


The analogy breaks down. A rabbit is very much stronger than a baby, and it has sharp teeth and claws, whereas a baby has no appendages capable of ripping baby clothes to shreds.
posted by holist at 4:29 AM on January 11, 2016


Parentfilter would be an amazingly useful subsite

Only if we expand the edit window way past five minutes.

Q. Dear AskParMe,

I forgot to put the leftover pizza back in the fridge last night, and I'm wondering if it's still safe to eat it.
Edit: nevermind, my three year old ate it while I was looking for his other shoe.
Edit: he also drank the 15-hour-old glass of milk that was next to it on the counter. Do I need to call poison control?
Edit: now it's breakfast time, and at his insistence, I made Mickey Mouse pancakes with oat flour and raisins, the exact way he likes it. He refuses to eat it, and by the transitive property of gross food, I think that means my pancakes are worse than rancid milk.
Edit: he's now been screaming for two hours that his stuffed giraffe is thirsty, but when I tried to placate him with a cup of cocoa, he flung it at my head. Am I in an abusive relationship?


A. DTMFA
posted by Mayor West at 6:10 AM on January 11, 2016 [11 favorites]


I think bendy's comparison to dogs is quite apt, as both dogs and babies are these seething bundles of constant need.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:27 AM on January 11, 2016


Certainly I can see the appeal. Except the deal comes with so much poop and sleep deprivation

Those actually aren't the parts the are toughest to deal with, for me anyway. Like someone else upthread mentioned, it's mostly the screaming. Oh man. "No, you can't have ice cream for breakfast." "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH"

Lately when I tell my three year old no, though, he tells me, "Please be kind to me. Please stop talking to me." And it's so sad and so cute! It really is hilarious what they come up with.
posted by JenMarie at 3:02 PM on January 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


If you haven't done anything fun in six years then your kid isn't to blame, sorry.

SERIOUSLY!

I think the first 6 WEEKS with each of the Monsters was pretty rough and not fun, but after that? Shit got pretty funny, pretty fast. Yes, even when it got exasperating. There comes a time when something clicks in your head, and you stand there gawping at something your kid has done or said. And it smacks you hard across the face. "Duuuude. I MADE that!"

They are grown now. Younger Monster was over for dinner. He was the kid who was always sick, always grumpy, always stubborn. He was the kid who would crawl into my bed - even as a teenager! - when he felt shitty. He's a full-blown Person now, and he's wickedly funny and scarily smart...and I MADE THAT.

Yeah, there were some times of Unmitigated Suck. There were many more times of hilarity and amazement, entire phases of development that were so much fun, so entertaining.
posted by MissySedai at 9:38 PM on January 11, 2016


You will certainly find yourself doing a lot less of the things you find fun pre-kid and may find yourself giving some of them up, maybe for six years, maybe forever.
posted by Artw at 9:45 PM on January 11, 2016


I'm sorry that was your experience, Art. It wasn't mine.
posted by MissySedai at 6:13 AM on January 12, 2016


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