By Shannon Ralph/The Next Family
You have no idea -- NO IDEA -- what you are getting into.
I am thrilled to be a mother. Really, I am. My three darling children cause me -- in addition to the rare headache and occasional string of obscenities -- boundless degrees of happiness and immense pride. I love being "mommy." I can't get enough hugs and kisses, despite the excessive mucus that sometimes accompanies them. I adore the idea of molding these little beings into contributing members of society. It's a challenge I relish.
Despite being madly in love with motherhood, I can't help waxing poetic on occasion about my pre-child days. If anyone tries to tell you that your life will be the same after children as it was before, they are lying to you, plain and simple.
Honestly, everything changes. Everything. From the way you look to the way you think to the way you interact with the world around you. Every decision you make, from where you work to where you live to what you eat for breakfast, has ramifications beyond yourself. Everything has a deeper, more nuanced meaning.
The crazy thing is that you don't run from this new life screaming in terror, as you would expect to do when your entire existence is upended. Rather, you embrace it. You come to love it. Sure, you are occasionally nostalgic for the person you were before those little people took over your life, but you would not go back. You can't imagine ever being that person again.
Before this happens to you -- before your life is muddled in this dreadfully lovely way -- I have some advice for you parents-to-be. My advice to you is simple. While you are still able, and still willing, do the following. Every. Single. Day. Soak in the joy of these 30 simple life pleasures while you can, because the activities on the list below will soon disappear from your repertoire, not to return for many, many years.
1. Go to a movie in the middle of the day.
2. Play rap music in your car.
3. Eat at a restaurant without chicken nuggets on the menu.
4. Take a nap on an airplane.
5. Stay out past 9 p.m.
6. Get out the door quickly.
7. Use your own iPhone, iPad or other handheld mobile device.
8. Cough without wetting your pants.
9. Use the word "f*ck" in a leisurely fashion in your own home.
10. Leave the house with only what you have in your coat pockets.
11. Wear dangly earrings.
12. Get in and out of your car without breaking out in a sweat... in the dead of winter.
13. Read a book.
14. Enjoy a 9-5 work schedule (parents work 24/7/365).
15. Have sex at night.
16. Have sex in the morning.
17. Have sex.
18. Enjoy the freedom that comes with monitoring no one's bowel movements but your own.
19. Have childless friends.
20. Eat cookies right out in the open as if they are NOT illegal contraband.
21. Use the entire coverage of an umbrella.
22. Be sick. Like stay-in-bed-all-day-eating-chicken-soup-binging-on-Sudafed-throwing-dirty-tissues-on-the-floor sick.
23. Watch what YOU want on television.
24. Wear white.
25. Pee with the bathroom door closed.
26. Spend a weekend binge-watching your favorite show.
27. Feel confident in the belief that you will never turn into your parents.
28. Enjoy an existence that does not revolve around bodily fluids.
29. Complete your grocery shopping in fewer than 120 minutes.
30. Relish the fact that you are not -- unless you chose it as your career path -- anyone's incubator, chauffeur, chef, personal assistant, entertainment committee, bouncer, tutor, counselor, nurse or maid.
I am confident that one day, I will flagrantly wear white. One day, I will nap on an airplane. I will snore and drool. One day, I will stay up long enough to watch the entire broadcast of the Golden Globes. One day...
Until that day comes, I will live vicariously through you. You unsuspecting, wonderfully naïve parents-to-be. One day, you will be me.
And you will love it as much as I do.