You can read all the parenting books and take all the classes in the world, but it will still never prepare you for what it’s actually like to be responsible for a tiny, little human being. Actually, you’ll find yourself constantly mumbling under your breath about how ridiculous most of the books were. Here are 12 unexpected changes that actually happen when you become a parent.
1. YOU’LL GET EMOTIONALLY INVESTED IN CARTOONS
The type of programming you’re comfortable watching in front of your kid changes your daily viewing schedule, but what you probably didn’t expect is how deeply involved you’ll get into the plot of children’s shows. They’ll have been out of the room for 20 minutes, and you’ll still be sitting on the edge of your chair wondering if Plex and Brobee are going to make it to the circus in time for DJ Lance Rock’s big performance.
2. SOMEHOW 11 PM GETS MOVED TO 8 PM
It’s strange that someone comes into your home and changes all of the clocks so when it’s actually 11 PM your clock says 8 PM. I mean, there’s no evidence of this, but how else can you explain how exhausted you feel every night as soon as the sun goes down? You used to be up until midnight every day and now, by 9, you’re dozing off on the couch and struggling to even get to your bed.
3. YOUR DEFINITION OF CLEAN CLOTHES CHANGES DRAMATICALLY
Remember when a clean shirt meant you just got everything back from the dry cleaners and it was all freshly pressed with crisp lines and a starched collar? Now a clean piece of clothing is anything that doesn’t have fresh baby vomit on it. I say fresh, because if it’s dry enough that you can just scrape it off with your fingernail, that’s clean enough.
4. JUST KEEPING A BABY ALIVE IS A FULL-TIME JOB
If we were both in a room and your job was to make sure I didn’t die, it would be pretty simple, right? We’d just hang out and watch TV or something. You have the same job with a baby, except the difference is that they keep trying to die any chance they get. They’ll roll off a changing table without giving it a second thought because they just don’t care. Over 90% of your day is spent trying to keep your kid from dive-bombing into the floor.
5. YOUR TREE HAS NO ORNAMENTS ON THE BOTTOM
You never thought about this one, did you? Remember how you just loved putting all those beautiful ornaments all over your beautiful Christmas tree every year? Well now you can’t, unless you want your baby to eat them all and die. You can tell the tree of a parent of a young child because the bottom third will be completely empty and sad. Seriously, your kid will shove absolutely anything into his mouth. He’s like a tiny version of My Strange Addiction.
6. THE SONGS THAT GET STUCK IN YOUR HEAD ARE FROM A VERY DIFFERENT GENRE
Instead of having the latest Rihanna track stuck in your head for the next few days while you’re making copies at the office, get ready to find yourself humming little tracks about wheels on the bus or songs about the type of sounds farm animals supposedly make. Eventually you’ll graduate into Kidz Bop tracks, but until then you’ll get plenty of practice singing the alphabet to yourself over and over and over.
7. YOUR ENTIRE LIFE NOW REVOLVES AROUND POOP
Oh, you made plans for the evening? Well too bad because the texture and color of your baby’s last bowel movement is irregular, so you’ll be spending the next hour rooting around in it and comparing it to samples on the Internet trying to determine if it’s just from a can of squashed peas or from sickness. And if your kid is constipated, forget about ever leaving home again.
8. YOU NEVER REALIZED HOW MANY ELECTRIC OUTLETS ARE IN YOUR HOME
It may seem nearly impossible to find an outlet when your battery is on 1% and you’re desperately trying to charge your iPhone, but that all changes when you have a kid. Now it seems like your whole house is one big outlet and everything you own mutated into a perfect size for tiny fingers to slide them directly into Electrocutionville. If there’s an outlet to be found, you’d better believe your baby will find it.
9. COMMERCIALS NOW MAKE YOU CRY
You know all those ridiculous, sappy commercials you used to mock when you were younger? Now that ad about a son going to college and handing his dad a thank you card he wrote in the second grade causes you to break down like you just watched Mufasa get trampled by the stampede in 3D. Plus the lack of sleep definitely doesn’t help your emotional well-being.
10. YOUR FRIENDS ARE THE LOUDEST HUMANS ALIVE
It never fails. Once you finally get your grumpy baby to sleep, one of your friends will open a soda or close a door in the loudest way possible that sends sound shockwaves vibrating through your home and directly into the eardrums of your sleeping offspring. How is it possible to yawn that loudly? It would be amazing if it didn’t mean you were going to be rocking a child for the next 90 minutes.
11. GOING TO THE MOVIE THEATER BECOMES AS RARE AS SEEING HALLEY’S COMET
All of your friends are going on and on about the midnight screening of the latest blockbuster movie, and you just sit in the corner and fantasize about how great it would be to watch an entire episode of a TV show without someone peeing through their diaper. You know it’s bad when the last movie you actually went to see in theaters is now on TBS.
12. YOU START YELLING THE MOST ABSURD PHRASES IMAGINABLE
You know you’ve officially become a parent when you find yourself yelling phrases like, “For the last time we do not rub taco meat on the cat!”
Rob Fee is a comedy writer who writes for Playboy.com.