THE BLOG

How You Know You're Turning Into a Parent

Being a parent changes you in ways you may never have expected (or even wanted).
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Being a parent changes you in ways you may never have expected (or even wanted). It is undeniable that kids destroy us completely. Mostly, though, they make us better people in a way that only caring for illogical human beings can make us better people.

But they also change us in other ways -- ways that I, myself, did not notice for quite some time.

Did you ever think that when you were out to dinner with some new friends and your kid suddenly started throwing up mashed potatoes with the exact consistency of vanilla frozen yogurt, you would catch it in your hands? Yeah, that's exactly what I'm talking about.

It sounds gross when I say it like that, but you never know what you'll do under pressure. Sometimes you're so desperate to make a good impression on these new potential friends you're meeting, because you desperately need some adult interaction, that you will not even think about sticking your hands out to catch your son's puke so it doesn't dirty the floor. You will watch in horror as it fills your cupped hands, and you will wonder what in the world you're going to do with it now -- let it drip all the way to the bathroom? Release it onto your plate of fries? Let it slip out through your fingers onto the floor? WHAT DO YOU DO WITH IT? You will, of course, not even dare to look those new potential kidless-friends (it was over before it even started) in the eye. You will only look your partner in the eye, and from his will be coming the same words that are pounding in your head. "They'll never call us again." And they won't.

When you're a parent, you suddenly find great satisfaction and pride in pulling a gnarly booger from a kid's nose.

Sometimes you'll hear that little infant breath wheezing, because his nose is so stopped up with snot that you know it's time to bring out the trusty old nose sucker. And you'll crack your fingers and stretch your neck and shake out your hands, and you'll lay him on the floor and go to work. You'll exclaim over every "schhhhhleppp" that issues forth from that nose sucker, and sometimes you'll turn around and show your partner, who is trying her hardest not to notice. And then, when an especially massive one comes out, and you say to that infant in a triumphant voice, "Now you can BREATHE!" you will turn to your partner and say, "Check this one out," and it will be on your HANDS. Because you're proud. Your partner will throw up a little in her mouth.

Or maybe that's just how Husband does it.

You will also begin to notice every person who speeds through your neighborhood.

You weren't this nit-picky before, but my gosh. You will now have the most well-trained ear around. You will know the road noise of every car going faster than 20 miles an hour in your neighborhood, and you will give those drivers the evilest eye they've ever seen if they're speeding. Because you're walking your kids to school, and the lives of your kids are important to you, and you don't really care if the driver is late to work or the airport or gym class, the life of a child is NEVER worth a few extra seconds.

If a driver happens to be going faster than 30 through the school zone while you and your kids are walking to school, you will bravely step out into the road and tell them to slow down. You don't even care what they think. They should pay attention. They should stop looking at their phones. They should watch out for the nails you just dropped. Nothing slows a person down better than a slow tire leak.

You see? You get a little crazy when you're a parent.

As a parent, you get really good at eating delicious food in secret.

Maybe it's a little cliche, but it's also true. You will order food and eat it in secret, because you know it's not the stuff you want your kid eating. Well, really, it's because it's too dang expensive to take a whole family out to eat, especially when you're my family. So you'll call it a "date night" when the kids come knocking because they smell the fries all the way upstairs. They'll ask you why you didn't just get a babysitter, and you'll tell them it's because neither of you felt like going out tonight, and then they'll ask why you have dates three or four times a week (It's not really that bad. They're good at exaggeration. Have no idea where they get it.), and you'll say it's because you love each other, which is a good enough answer, now get to bed so I can eat my delicious food in peace, while it's still hot.

I wish I could tell you it wasn't true, but when you're a parent, grocery shopping becomes your treat (or break or vacation, whatever you want to call it).

Unless, of course, you're taking the kids. Then it's a hellish nightmare. I don't have the luxury of grocery shopping without my kids, but, hey, enjoy that. If I do get a day, I bet I'll think it's like a vacation to Disney World, except with more affordable food. And no fun rides, unless you ride the cart through the parking lot, which I'm totally going to do next time I go kidless.

When you're a parent you also don't really care what your home looks like anymore.

You'll fight it for a really long time. You'll probably still care, just a little, what your house looks like, but you just won't care as much. You'll try harder to not let it bother you, because you'll know how inevitable the destruction of it is, and you'll mostly get tired out trying to clean up every day and watching your kids undo it in 3.4 seconds of being in a room.

There's a hole in the wall? Eh, well, you'll get around to fixing it, eventually. There are drawings on the doors? Well, it's like a kid-art mural. Now you look like the really cool parents who let their kids make art on the walls. The couches are sagging in the middle? Welp. You'll just have to deal with that, because you're not buying furniture until the kids are grown and gone. You'll give them all the broken stuff to furnish their first apartment.

And, probably the biggest and most drastic change: You could fall asleep anywhere.

You're so tired all the time that you really could fall asleep anywhere. Waiting in the doctor's office? There's a fish tank to entertain the 3-year-olds. Sat down on the couch for "just a minute to rest?" You'll be out in no time, even while the kids are having a dance party around you. Sitting on a cement bench out at the park? Doesn't matter. You'll still close those eyes and enter dreamland in 30 seconds flat, especially since the other parents are watching your kid. You'll just pretend you're a homeless person if they ask whose kid that is.

The truth is, there are many, many more changes that happen when you become a parent, but there's not space for them all here. Besides, I'm standing at my standing desk, and I'd really like to take a nap real quic--aioer'kowcls;,

A version of this article first appeared on Crash Test Parents. Follow Rachel on Twitter and Facebook.