Therapist, mom of 2 and writer at Baby Proofed Parents, "Where sane meets baby brain."
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Parenting can be a bumpy ride -- it's a well-known fact. There are glorious highs and there are why-the-heck-did-I-sign-up-for-this? lows. If you're like me, it helps to hear occasional reminders of the sweeter parts of parenthood. So here you go, 35 unexpected side effects that are delivered right alongside your baby, no medication required:
Really strong biceps. The heavier the baby (or car seat), the stronger the arms.
You can count on rock-solid calves as well. If you have a two-story house, you'll be climbing up and down those stairs approximately 243 times a day.
On the subject of your house, for the next 18 years, you have a permanent and totally worthy excuse for a messy one. Use it.
You see a new side of your partner when he or she is pacing around the kitchen with your fussy infant or sporting a new spit-up stain... and you like it.
Holidays are magical again.
When you send out your holiday cards, you have something other than your pets to feature front and center.
You and your pillow develop a love affair. It feels so soft and luxurious, especially when you forcefully drop your head on it and pass out.
Don't get too attached... sleeping your life away is offically a non-option.
You actually become really good at snoozing sitting up, which comes in handy on planes.
Speaking of planes, three cheers for early boarding with young children. (Milk this one as long as you can, people. An 8-year-old and 10-year-old are still young, right?)
Unlimited hugs, any time you want them (and sometimes when you don't).
After hours and hours and hours of bedtime story reading, you become quite the orator and public speaker.
You learn the correct technical names of all dinosaurs, tractors and exotic animals... because your child's picture books are relentless and annoyingly accurate.
White noise makers and baby monitors become a new permanent fixture in your home. Once you get used to them, you kind of like living in a wind tunnel that you can hear at all times.
You become a stealth ninja at hiding pureed or shredded veggies in anything edible.
Someone (a very small someone) finally thinks you are a good singer. Screw you, Simon Cowell!
You become infinitely more efficient with your time. Ninety minutes to mop the floors, do the laundry, shower and respond to emails... Go!
Fireworks and Christmas lights are so much more sparkly.
Halloween candy, anyone?
Your penmanship and letter-writing skills improve dramatically with all of the hand-written notes from Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Oh, and that pesky Elf.
You get to ride on merry-go-rounds again! And again... and again...
Coffee tastes more incredible than ever. Amazing. A true elixir of the gods.
Sesame Street is back on the DVR. You know you always had a thing for Bert.
You get to talk in third person, Gollum-style (Mommy loves you, my precious.) and are tempted to talk the same way when you're out with your girlfriends. (Kirsten is so excited to be out of the house! Yes, Kirsten would love a vodka grapefruit martini. Mmmm, Kirsten likes. Kirsten wants more, my precious.)
Speaking of getting out of the house, when you do get out, you feel like you're channeling Captain Kirk and "boldly going where no man has gone before." Everything, even the steering wheel of your car, feels fresh and new and different.
One of the places you get out to is your new favorite happy hour spot, Target, where you binge on little-red-clearance-sticker items instead of margaritas.
You become a master stain remover. Spit-up, squash and snot have nothing on you.
You finally have someone to teach you how to use your iPad. (C'mon. You know your 3-year-old navigates it better than you do.)
Small victories make your day: he slept through the night, she peed in the potty, you didn't crumple up into a whimpering heap. Go you!
Dance parties in the kitchen... anytime you want.
You can always count on finding a snack, a baby wipe and a toy in your purse. All very handy when out on a GNO.
On the subject of GNOs, a whole new world of potential friends (who are also dying to get out) opens up. Playgroup parents, preschool parents, PTA parents, you get the picture...
You're a proud owner of a stroller (that can be used to sneak snacks and beverages into music festivals).
Tons of smiles and laughs. Way more than you ever got when you sat in a cubicle.
It may grow gradually or it might burst onto your scene, but you experience a love greater than anything you've ever felt before... and it feels really, really good.
Kirsten Brunner, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor and pillow-loving mother of two rambunctious boys in Austin, TX. She and her blog partner, Cheryl Sipkowski, MS, LPC, provide sanity-saving tips and workshops for expectant and new parents at Baby Proofed Parents. Follow BPP on Facebook or Twitter for real-time tips and humor to help you "bring sane to baby brain."