What the Parenting Books Don’t Tell You

Being a mom is all-consuming. It’s just so freakin’ hard. Everyone tells you how wonderful motherhood is, and that it will change your life. Sure, they’re right. It’s amazing. Everyone tells you to hang on tight, because it goes way too fast. That’s sort of true. The days are long, but the years are short. Everyone you’ve ever met who has survived this thing has told you to enjoy every moment. You’ll try, but probably won’t. You can read parenting books and research published by child psychologists, watch horror stories on the news, and baby proof until you’re blue in the face. It won’t matter.

One day you’ll wake up to the warm sensation of your toddler pissing in your marital bed, and you’ll realize the experts failed you. No one adequately prepared you for this moment. You’ll look over at the love of your life, snoring because he’s sleeping on his back again, and feel a rage unlike anything you’ve felt before. You’ll consider letting him sleep. It’s not because he deserves to get some rest. It’s not because you know how hard he works all day and don’t want to disturb him. Those are the reasons you have happily let him sleep soundly through a decade of middle of the night cries and feedings. This time is different. You’ll watch him for a minute, marinating in toddler urine, and you’ll realize you’re smiling like a lunatic.

You’ll scoop up your youngest child, still sleeping sweetly in your arms. You’ll carry her into the bathroom, consider running a bath, but instead settle for wiping her down with baby wipes before taking her back to her own clean bed. You’ll also consider climbing in bed with her, leaving your spouse to soak until morning, just as he did the supper dishes he promised to do before bed. Instead, you’ll change the sheets together. He’ll thank you sleepily for taking care of things and you’ll remember he’s not so bad. You’ll drift off to the rattle of the worn out washing machine, and you’ll pray it lasts just a few more months.

I’m pretty decent at math. I didn’t finish my college degree and I don’t have any fancy letters after my name, but I do still have my mathlete shirt from High School, so just trust me on this. In theory, ONE family of FIVE people, should create ONE load of laundry per day, maybe TWO. After all, THREE of these people are still fun-size! In theory, even with towels and bedding, ONE family of FIVE people should have a manageable amount of laundry.

I don’t mind folding clothes. I love being alone. I love listening to 90s music or true-crime podcasts while completing mindless tasks. A few minutes to myself to fold ONE load of laundry each day just doesn’t sound like torture. We have even recently reduced our wardrobe and simplified into one big family closet. So tell me, parenting experts, where in the atomic F-bomb does all this laundry come from? I currently spend more of my life gathering, washing, changing, folding, and distributing clothing than I do sleeping. I also spend more time exaggerating than I do sleeping.

The parenting books didn’t prepare me for the laundry. They didn’t tell me that little girls change 17 times a day if you don’t fight them on it or move their clothes to your closet. They didn’t tell me that boys start smelling like a locker room at age ten. They didn’t tell me that the potty training years would completely wear out a washer and dryer set and my patience.

No one told me that bringing a sick child into my bed for two nights would take six weeks of sleep training to correct. They didn’t tell me that giving in for a night or two would create a family bed situation that no one else seems bothered by. When I woke up this morning, our bodies were splayed out in the shape of a big C. I took it as a sign and started the coffee. The parenting books never told me about the magic of coffee, and I didn’t start drinking it until I was almost 30. If I would have had coffee when I was having babies, I could have conquered the world. It’s too late for that now, though. These are the survival years.

I’ll change the sheets, let the dishes soak, savor the good times, wash the bad down with coffee, and maybe write a useful parenting book when I get a minute.

One Comment

  1. This is why I don’t read parenting books. Life just doesn’t fit into their neat little molds and they don’t include a troubleshooting guide for when everything explodes.



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