Monday, February 11, 2013

Bait and Switch

So, you're going to have a baby! Congratulations. Enjoy thinking about all those amazing milestone events you can't wait to do together because guess what? The whole first few years of parenting are a bait and switch.

Those dreams of taking your little guy fishing and camping. Of taking your daughter to the American Girl store and putting bows in her hair. Those dreams are a far, far cry from your new reality as a parent.

In fact, what no one will tell you is that the first parenting milestone is making sure your kids' plumbing works.

Yes, that's the first parenting goal you will have. The doctors and nurses are adamant about recording every pee and poop. Congrats mom and dad because you are now the official recorders of shit. Literally.

My husband has a "bait and switch" philosophy about marriages (will definitely cover that in another post) and about parenthood.

You are "baited" into parenthood by thinking long term about your life. Of course you will have kids playing in the yard. And of course those kids will learn to ride bikes in the driveway. But not before you put up the basketball hoop so you can teach your kids how to shoot a ball. Wow, thinking about basketball you then segue into thinking about their first baseball game. You will buy them team shirts and foam fingers. Ballpark hot dogs and cotton candy.

These are the things my husband focused on as we entered parenthood. And boy oh boy wasn't he surprised when he realized that first, his sports loving and great athlete of a son would need to learn to hold up the weight of his own head. And that right there is the switch.

It's like dreaming of hearing your child say "mommy," only to have a little traitor like my son who said "daddy" first.

And whoever coined the phrase "sleep like a baby" was mocking parents.

And so there it is. The thing no one will tell you but me. Becoming a parent is a bait and switch. You are lured into it with the "someday our family will _ ." And then you're rattled when you realize that blank is filled with things like "leave the house" because by the time you're ready to go anywhere, your baby will definitely have pooped. Don't forget to right that down.

Just to be clear, I write this with fondness for the bait and switch. It's because of the bait that you keep on giving everything you have. And one day, it's no longer a switch. They actually do turn into the little people you dreamt about. Even though you are still tracking their poops.

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