Unexpected Side Effects of Becoming a Parent

When you have a baby, you see firsthand how life turns sideways in the early months — depending on the sort of baby you get, your capacity for not-nearly-enough sleep, the amount of extra hands around the house, and your own tolerance for wearing the mantle of incompetence. Welcome to a nearly permanent state. As you venture further into parenthood, there are some strange and unexpected side effects besides wearing baby barf.

You begin showering at night

Because your hands are tied during the day. And because at day’s end, you are completely filthy. Showers never felt so good.

You hear phantom cries in the shower

If you do shower while your child is awake, supposedly napping, or supposedly in bed, you will still manage to hear them calling you, in reality, and in your warped mind. The upside is that you can even step out of the shower to lovingly tend to them. Your ears, they are fantastic.

Your nightmares take on a terrifying dimension

I find my kids’ nightmares almost amusing. My toddler claims, for example, that at night the wall talks to her. Those woodland creatures we stuck to the wall are more creepy than cute. My own shock me. Sometimes my husband and I will relate a nightmare we had about one of our children, and then we share a sad, stunned moment of silence. Those fears are real and hard to stomach.

You never know where things are: keys, wallet, phone.

If you were absentminded before, now you are underslept, and every time you cannot find something, you have to consider the fact that your child may have placed it, like, anywhere. Your keys might be in the toilet or in your child’s rain boot. They might be behind the piano or stuck way deep into the couch. And it only gets worse. That book you were reading? That necklace you wanted to wear? A kid has already put it . . . somewhere.

You will resent that your pets also have needs.

Because everybody poops. You will discover your personal limit for poop. When you hit it, you’ll do nearly anything to get your kid out of diapers.

A certain kind of miserly frugality may emerge

You loathe spending money on random “stuff” or even replacing your own tattered socks. And then you drop $100 on kiddie soccer programs.

You don’t need a thermometer to tell when your kids are sick

I don’t use the hand to the forehead, but I can usually see a fever before I get out the thermometer.

Your kids think you’re funny

This is a wonderful side effect: despite having no comic skill or timing, your baby thinks you are hilarious. Usually they first laugh at something unexpected — you sneeze or when you accidentally drop an egg onto the floor. But whatever it is, work it.

Kate Steilen

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