Parenthood is a total game-changer when it comes to personal priorities, relationships with your spouse and family, communication, intimacy, hygiene, song-selection, and complete exhaustion. The pre-baby “itch” typically consists of euphoric daydreams of that new baby smell, silly giggles, perfect spoonfuls of baby food effortlessly popping in/out of tiny puckers, hot-mom bod sliding in and out of those skinny jeans, and trolling the streets with an innovative stroller system and matching shades like a boss.
You can’t possibly contemplate why everyone is asking you to “wait and enjoy life before kids… because everything changes.”
Thankfully, one intuitive mama named Fran sent me a special message to my “Ask Ruthi” advice column and put it out there. She asked the golden question that many want to know:
What really changes after having kids? What am I supposed to appreciate, besides the obvious, before preparing for parenthood?
As an experienced mom with four kids, please allow me to be your candid tour-guide into the future and break it down to you with my top 10 unfiltered truths about life before kids.
1. Enjoy Peace on Your Porcelain Throne
You may not appreciate it yet, but you are queen of the crapper right now… alone. Go ahead—sit, squat, pee, or poop in complete serenity! You have it better than you know right now. Once kids come into play, your throne becomes a magnet for little ones. You are no longer queen of that throne, more like a loyal servant. The doors become their personal drum… and that’s only if you are able to close the door. Locking the door for any reason whatsoever sends an ultrasonic mental alarm instructing them to bang on it nonstop in complete hysteria as to why you are locking them out. If you choose to leave the door open for a quick piss, you’re likely on standby to break up the next sibling issue or simply signalling for an audience. Just don’t become the “camel bladder mom” who forgoes a bathroom break altogether until the end of the day when you give up and Cailou comes on.
2. Enjoy Your Birthday Suit
Some parents believe that nudity around their kids of all ages is acceptable, and more power to them. You may or may not agree, but in any case, enjoy your body and your random will to be naked… at any time! Kids are curious and parenthood will offer you more questions than you bargained. Your personal sense of modesty may likely change when you have constant spectating eyes, pokey fingers, and a flurry of questions at all times. Let’s face it, your body will totally morph after pregnancy, labor, and about a few too many tubs of Nutella because “you just need a break.” If you breastfeed, your once perky boobies may resemble more of a deflated Hacky Sack after a few rounds of kids. Enjoy your enviable perky boobies. Squeeze them, bounce them, and hold them up high in your best cleavage-boasting bra. Enjoy your freedom of random nudity. Frolic in your freedom, my friend. Heck, both of you walk around naked any time for any reason and shout profanities because you can!
3. Enjoy Your Veggies
This may sound like a strange topic, but please hear me out. When you are pregnant, your belly may grow to shocking proportions and resemble an overripe watermelon of sorts. When everything eventually makes it’s way back to pre-baby weight and you are done celebrating with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, you may experience your first real bloat that will give you PTSD over your 9 months of stretched-out skin that finally retracted. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, onions, beans, spinach, mushrooms, etc. will unfortunately be followed by a new veggie baby bump. You may even instinctively begin cradling it, rocking side-to-side, and watching that gas-baby stretch to drastic proportions, my friend. Veggies will no longer be the same. By nighttime, you and your hubby may even bid on what month your bloatacious broccoli baby appears to be measuring. The most humiliating part happens to the best of us when an unsuspecting mom says those 5 words that change your friendship forever. “Congratulations, when are you due?” Please think of a good comeback line now for that one, because the shock will leave you speechless and daydreaming of kicking her in the face, long after the incident.
4. Enjoy Loud Loving
Shout, scream, howl, sing opera, and/or slam that headboard to your heart’s content while bumping—whatever your jam. Just go for it at any time, and enjoy it loudly. Once kids come in the picture, things become quiet as a mouse to avoid little feet tip-toeing towards images they will never be able to erase. Your once wild frolic will be more of a pantomime romp if you both stay awake long enough to enjoy. The only loud loving you’ll be doing will happen during scheduled nooners if your kids are all in school.
5. Enjoy Mealtime Conversation
Barking out orders for kids to stay at the table, pleading for bored kids to eat their food, entertaining each bite, begging kids to “try” their veggies, and cleaning up spilled drinks will take up most of your focus during a meal with kids. Older kids will have “big ears” and lots of questions over every secret conversation or whisper you try to succeed. As your hubby rolls his eyes and you frantically try and keep the peace while instilling good table manners, adult conversation will be better suited for nighttime.
6. Enjoy Your Day Off
Once you have kids, there’s no turning back. Welcome to the world sans sick days, bye bye loud parties or drunken stupors, no more hangovers, and no more reckless behavior. Parenting means all eyes, all ears, and all questionable behavior closely monitored and analyzed by little humans learning from their superhero role models. Don’t screw up, because one day they will be pushing your wheel chair and paying for your nursing home.
7. Enjoy Couples’ Vacay
Vacation won’t be the same once you assume the role of parent. Your lounging, late-morning, and over-indulging romantic getaway will soon be replaced by water slides, floaties, tantrums, early mornings, goldfish snacks, and photo ops with strangers wearing large cartoon costumes. Everything will be about the kids at all times. Grab your glass of wine now while you soak it all in.
8. Enjoy Nasty Talk
Potty mouth, sailor mouth, foul language, cursing, swearing—whatever you call it, shout it out in plain sight… and then do it over and over again until it’s out of your system. No you did not say shoot, ship, oh nuggets, or shut the front door! Let it out like a mama peeling out of those skinny jeans at the end of the day! Free those swear words like a mama taking off that tired bra because you just had enough. Let it all hang out, sista’! Let loose and don’t hold back because once you have munchkins in your vicinity, all ears will be parroting back your bad habits.
9. Enjoy Your Music
You may be taking it for granted and have no idea whatsoever. Right now you gracefully sit in the car without wrestling a single small human into any car seat, and you just turn the radio on. You scroll through those stations and listen to anything YOU want and turn it up louder than little ears should be exposed. Before you know it, your tiny humans will own you. They will own your brain even long after they are in school, as the “Wheels on the Bus,” “Laurie Berkner” or “Cailou” tunes torture your tired brain as you do grocery shopping or sit through another status meeting at work. However, this phase will likely pass by the second or third kid—I assure you—as their nursery rhymes will be replaced by the best rap or pop music in your stage of mental rebellion and you develop reflexes like a cat in quickly muting the inappropriate parts.
10. Enjoy Your Sleep
This advice seems overrated and tired, since it’s typically the very first recommendation you receive without much explanation. Here’s the truth, my friend—once you have kids, it’s for life and karma will pinch you nasty if you screw up. The “sleep now” advice seems like crap to you, I’m sure—but what you don’t realize is that whether you are super-pregnant and managing sleep like a whale on dry land; sleeping in 15-second increments as a newborn screams for more cuddling and milk; sleeping with your toddler’s elbow, knee, and toes somehow crammed up your nose through the night; or returning into different bedrooms for the eighth cup of water; sleep will be obsolete, even on the days that you sleep with one eye opened because you’re worried why your kid actually slept through the night. Once you’re preggo, you’ll sleep in about a decade later, unless you have more than one…no worries.
Please do not be discouraged by this list, as having kids is a beautiful, life-changing, all-encompassing journey and gift that can ever happen to a person. I would never have it any other way. This incredible phenomenon known as parenthood is a rollercoaster ride that comes with its own bag of ying-yang and a bucket of karma that will carry us through time, age, and experience, only to ultimately offer us the sharpest wisdom from the best and worst of our personal experience.
Just remember to enjoy every step of your journey—and learn to laugh, forgive, love openly, and be the most compassionate and selfless part of yourself you can express. After all, you and your life partner will soon be the guardians of tiny, precious humans.