Are you ready to become a parent?

If you read that title and thought, “LOL!” then I can assure you that you’re well on your way to qualifying for parental status.  Aside from the necessary sense of humor, what else helps to make the leap from childless to child…full?

We’ve been asked before how we knew we were “ready” to start a family (and I’m using the term “ready” very loosely here, folks).  Well, to be honest, we thought about it and prayed about it, and we just decided to give it a go.  At first, I planned things and used a calendar and joined mom-to-be blogs and lost my damn mind.  Then, I gave it up and just said to heck with charting and graphing and doodling and diddling, and we went at it with reckless abandon (TMI? I don’t care)  Then, one day, God said: BOOM!  And so we knew we were ready…because if God trusted us to bring a child into this world, it meant we could do it!

Becoming a parent is an incredibly great responsibility, and not one without sacrifice.  Folks are going to tell you that you will have to give up a few things when you bring home the fruit of your loins.  If you’re ready to sacrifice the following, you might be ready to welcome a little bundle of (screaming) joy into the world:

Sleep.  Oh yeah, as soon as you tell the world you’re knocked up, you’re going to get the endless, “SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN!” lines.  It’s going to be irritating, and you’re going to wish it would just stop, but you know what?  They are 147% correct.  Those first newborn weeks, man…they are something else.  They’ll make you question your parenting ability, your decision to have a child, and your sanity (and if you think you never did any of that as a parent, you’re a big fat liar).  But in a few weeks, if you’re lucky, your kiddo will hit that magical 10 hours of sleep window…then 11…then 12!  And you’ll think you’ve won the sleepytime jackpot.  Except when you close the nursery door at 7:30p, you’ll probably have laundry to fold, dishes to wash, or a blog to write.  You’ll finally sit down around 8:30p, just in time to catch some TV or read a book before you hit your 9:30p bedtime (because sleep is precious).  Which brings me to…

Entertainment.  No, you aren’t giving up all entertainment, because the greatest entertainment in the history of time and space is sleeping in the nursery across the hall.  I am talking about your TV, reading and computer time, though.  Before we had Miles, I could easily watch six episodes in a row of Toddlers & Tiaras.  Our DVR was so full, I thought it would explode from the overwhelming Honey Boo Boo of it all.  Now?  Well, we still watch TV, but I can promise you that we are way more selective than before Miles.  Not a single episode of Bad Girls Club or Gypsy Sisters has aired in this house since April 21, 2013.  Admittedly, it’s garbage television, but the real reason it doesn’t catch any air time here is because we’re too busy trying to squeeze in Jeopardy, Law & Order, Criminal Minds or New Girl with our precious 60 minutes of couch time.  And when the choice is between seeing Nellie get into another bar fight over her baby daddy, or watching North America on NatGeo, the choice is simple.  Quality over quantity.

Entertainment, part deux.  The same goes for reading material and length of time spent reading.  Before Miles, I would pick up every weekly issue of OK!, Us Weekly, In Touch and *gasp* The National Enquirer.  I could spend an entire Sunday afternoon reading about bad botox, affairs and scandalous behavior.  I don’t have room for the gossip rags any longer; now, if I have some spare reading time, I’m diving into another Stephen King novel, or reading something to enrich my life.  And no more six hours of laying on the couch on Saturdays to finish the entire novel, either.  A half hour before hitting the hay is about all I can spare.

Grooming.  You know those gals you see at Publix wearing yoga pants with bananas smeared on them, hair in a ponytail, no make-up, dazed and confused look on their faces?  The ones you swore you’d never become?  Well, guess what…you will.  No, not right away, but it will happen.  It creeps up on you like the Freshman Fifteen.  First, you wear the yoga pants to the post office.  Then to Dunkin’ Donuts.  The overwhelming comfort of their heavenly elasticity will take control of your mind, and block things like blue jeans from your view when you peer into your closet.  And shaving your legs?  If you’re a night showerer like me, you’ll spend five minutes contemplating whether or not you have the energy and time to spare (60 minutes people!  Wine or razors, you make the call) and if you’re a morning showerer, your head is probably too foggy for decisions involving sharp instruments.  As a mom, you will embrace the “natural” look, welcome your inner hippie, and know that not a single soul really notices because your kid will always look incredible and, bonus points, the kid is also an amazingly adorable attention hog.  Trust me, no one knows you’ve worn that t-shirt three days in a row because LOOK AT THE BABY!!!

Diet.  Here’s what I’m going to tell you about post-baby weight: you’ll lose it.  Without even realizing it happened, you’ll lose it.  Well, if you’re sensible while your pregnant, anyway.  Don’t worry about dieting after you have the kid; you will naturally shed the pounds through your ability to forget to eat when they’re very tiny, and, when they get older, from sharing everything on your plate.  You will try new foods like cereal puffs and purees, and realize that this is why you’ve lost 10 pounds.  Gone are the nights of eating half a pizza and drinking an entire bottle of wine (again, if you say “not me” then you’re a big fat liar).  But don’t think you’re necessarily bikini ready because…

Your body.  Of course you know you’ll sacrifice your body; if you’re the mom-to-be, you’re going to be hauling that watermelon around for a few months.  You may be blessed with stretch marks, cellulite, or (if you’re lucky like me) a few spider veins.  Here’s what you need to know about these battle scars: you won’t give a shit.  Maybe at first I was super self-conscious about the spider veins.  Okay, very self-conscious.  I would stare at them in harsh fluorescent lighting, stretching and squeezing my skin, trying to decide whether I should see a vein specialist.  And then, I’d see Miles.  I realized that these tiny little blue veins, something no one has ever noticed, were such an incredibly small sacrifice to have this tiny person sitting in front of me.  It’s not about me; it’s not about how I look.  All that matters is this sweet, big boy.  And, since he’s a big boy…

Your body, part deux.  Working out and exercise will fall to the wayside (sort of).  But, after a few months, you will realize that hauling your giant meatloaf son around, chasing him across the living room a dozen times an hour and having endless dance parties will give you an entirely new work out routine that those damn Crossfitters have yet to learn.  Sure, my stomach may resemble biscuit dough, but have you seen my triceps?  P90X couldn’t do that.

Sleep (again).  Did you think your sacrifice of sleep ended with the newborn days?  Spoiler alert: NOPE.  Because just as your sweet babe starts sleeping through the night, you’ll get hit with the first cold.  Then, your kiddo will grow to an age where he starts to make friends, and you’ll worry if he’s making the right friends, or if he’s being bullied, or if the other kids like him.  He’ll become a teenager and holy cow if you thought you had sleepless nights before, well just you wait…because here comes dating and driving.  Your kids will grow up and leave the nest, and you’ll still stay up worrying.  And one day, your kids will have their own kids, and guess what?  Yep, you’ll still spend waking hours praying, thinking, hoping and worrying some more.  Welcome to the mental illness known as “parenting.”  This brings me to our final sacrifice…

Sanity.  You think I’m kidding?  Ha.  Get ready to look at a tiny little person and feel an overwhelming and uncontrollable sense of ferocious love.  A love so strong and powerful, you realize you would bench press a Buick if that’s what they asked you to do.  You will cry tears of joy and fear, all at the same time, because this teeny tiny person is yours.  Yes, you will go absolutely positively cuckoo bananas with love for this person.  Then you’ll look at your spouse, your life partner, your soul mate, the one you’re journeying with through this adventure, and you will feel crazy love all over again at the thought of “we did this!”  If you thought Publix commercials made you cry, just wait…

Still with me?  Good.  Here’s what you should take with you, if nothing else from these 1,655+ (!!!) words: you are ready.  You will think you aren’t; you will be frightened, and you will question your judgement, but God knows that you are ready.  You will learn as you go, just like millions of parents before you.  You will make new parent friends, or reconnect with old parent friends, and you will have a support system unlike any other.  And, when doubt is overwhelming, you will peek in that nursery at 8:30p, look down at your sweet, sleeping, meatloaf of a baby, and feel the ferocious love.  And you will know  that you were born to do this job.

Get busy,

Kristin

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