Back in the heyday of blogging, when I read all the popular mom blogs (despite being myself single and without child, in those days), everyone used to write about Things Nobody Told Them. Bloggers pulled back the curtains on some shit back then, man. You know, literal shit like pooping on the delivery table. Figurative shit like the fact that breastfeeding was often difficult and painful. The sleep deprivation, constant worry, and PPD. All of a sudden, women were talking about things that had previously been, at best, only whispered about.
So since I read all of this stuff years ago (I liked reading about other women’s lives, even if not immediately relevant to my own), I figured I had a pretty good handle on the Things Nobody Tells Us category of pregnancy and parenthood. I was prepared.
But as you might guess, there was something about which Nobody Told Me: the sheer strenuous physicality of absolutely everything. The way you and your parenthood are inseparable from your body. The way your body never, ever gets a break.
I’m not referring really to breastfeeding, sleep, or even carrying a pregnancy. I mean the little daily bullshit. For example:
- Wrestling a child into/out of a diaper
- Wrestling a child into/out of clothing or pajamas or a coat or shoes
- Wrestling a child into/out of a car seat or a stroller or a high chair or a booster seat or a shopping cart
- Wrestling a child into/out of a crib or a bathtub
- Picking up a limp-noodling child who is now a textbook example of passive resistance
- Applying sunscreen to a squirming child
- Brushing or styling the hair of a squirming child
- Brushing the teeth of a child whose jaws are clamped down tighter than the jaws of an alligator
- Lifting a child onto/off of a public toilet
- Wiping the butt of a child who, instead of staying in the approved downward-dog-style wiping posture, is insisting on doing a series of unpredictable vinyasas
- Holding a child up high enough to reach the counter and sink in a public restroom while they dawdle over hand washing and drying
- Dodging the jammy hands of a child who is trying to use your white blouse as a napkin five minutes before you need to leave for work
- Being bitten
- Being slapped
- Having the eyeglasses slapped right off of your face
- Having handfuls of hair ripped out of your head
- Being head-butted in the mouth
In the past month, I’ve been head-butted in the mouth twice, most recently last night. That seems like a lot of head-butting and fat lips, doesn’t it? And nothing will flip my rage switch faster than being suddenly physically hurt like that. Inside my head, it’s like a bomb goes off. Outside my head, I just yelp in pain and then speak very calmly and carefully to everyone around me while also glaring at them pretty hard as I dramatically count my remaining teeth and apply ice to the affected area. Which is an unsatisfying vent for my frustrations, so here we are.
Why is my body so tired? When will my body feel less tired? When will I stop worrying about my offspring (accidentally, but still) physically assaulting me? Will I make it through the next couple of decades with all my original teeth? More importantly, why did nobody tell me?
Don’t worry, though: I did hear about the importance of cherishing every moment.