It's Halloween week, which means that the spooky is back! Witches, vampires, ghosts and goblins abound. But nothing can strike terror into the heart of grown men and women alike quite like one thing... the prospect of becoming a parent. As the parent of two terrifying little boys, I am afraid that I cannot fully ease the fears of prospective parents. Thus, in honor of Halloween, I have decided to put together a list of the most terrifying things you have to look forward to on your journey to parenthood.
1. Labor is called labor for a reason.
Let's start at the beginning, because the beginning is where most things start, and labor is when your bright-eyed little prince/princess makes his/her debut into the world. If you're a woman, you've probably been worrying about labor since you first saw that video in your high school health class of the live birth. There is no getting around it; labor is hard, hard work. Hence calling it "labor." The bright side: As soon as the doctors put that baby in your arms, you will forget about all of the work, even as the doctors are still working on putting you back together again. After all, women keep deciding to get pregnant even after they've already had one child. It is one of nature's most amazing feats that after nine months of pregnancy and then labor, we somehow forget and choose to do it again.
2. Kids are EXPENSIVE.
Diapers, baby gear, clothes, food, formula, daycare, baby classes, sports lessons, music lessons, shoes, sports equipment, braces, insurance, tutors, babysitting, college... the list goes on and on. The bright side: Yes, you have to pay, but you also get to hang out with these awesome little people. So there's that, I guess.
3. You will never go to the bathroom/shower alone again (well, for a few years anyway).
When they are babies, they cry when they are not being held or they can't see you for more than five seconds. When they are toddlers and preschoolers, they quite literally will not let you go into a bathroom by yourself. And chances are pretty good that even at work, at least one of the other stalls will be occupied. The bright side: I get to use a bathroom by myself so infrequently, that on the rare occasion I do, it is like a mini-trip to the spa without the cost. An uninterrupted shower is a small piece of luxury that I now chalk up to the things I took for granted before children.
4. Teenagers are jerks.
OK, so I have no personal experience with this one as a parent given that my children are still under 5 years old. However, I was a teenager once, and I was a total jerk. And I have been on enough subways and buses when high school lets out to confirm that many teenagers are jerks. And my under fives will be teenagers some day. The bright side: The raging hormones and changing bodies, combined with the boundary pushing and experimenting that are part and parcel of becoming a young adult, can lead to some disruption in the home. But the cool thing is that when the hormonal dust settles, and your kids have matured into adults, they often become your friends.
5. It's not about you anymore.
I remember being on my honeymoon, looking up at the star-filled sky with my husband, and thinking that at that moment I didn't care about anything else in the world but the two of us on that beach under those stars. It was an incredibly romantic moment for my husband and me, and one that we will undoubtedly never be able to come close to replicating, no matter how remote or romantic a location we find ourselves in. Because the second you become a parent, your world undergoes a seismic shift, and you will never have a moment where you are not worrying/wondering/thinking, or some combination of the three, about your children. A wise person once said that a parent can only ever be as happy as her least happy child. The bright side: It's not about you anymore, and there's something really rewarding and fulfilling just about that fact.
There is no doubt that becoming a parent is probably the scariest thing you will ever do in your life. But it also just might be the most amazing and joyful thing you will ever do, and worth every terrifying minute!