Holding Forth

Published on November 20th, 2015 | by Richard Black

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10 Truly Useful Tips for New Stay at Home Parents

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New parents? Welcome to your dwelling three days after you bring your child home!

Despite my advice to the contrary a few of my friends have decided to have a child.

Don’t get me wrong kids are great and all if you’re looking to give your immune system a challenge, intrigued about the effects of sleep deprivation or looking to reach the limits of your patience. Being a parent however isn’t all fun and games.

The reality is that there’s a lot of…unpleasantness…that occurs when raising a child particularly an infant. There’s also quite a lot of advice bandied (Yes I promise it’s a word. Look it up and impress your friends.) about regarding which car seat to buy or whether a newborn should be placed in a crib on his back, or stomach, or suspended by bungee cords and what brand of formula will truly define you as a new father or mother. Advice, I feel comfortable mentioning, abounds when it comes to parenthood. The problem is that not much of it is all that useful.

In my infinite benevolence I have decided to rectify that omission, tap into my vast base of knowledge and distill everything I’ve learned about being a new stay at home parent into ten semi-coherent points. I hope my friends and many others will find them to be useful or, at the very least, discourage others from even thinking about having children.

 

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Former doctor and new stay at home dad. That’s not blood by the way. It’s ketchup from a burger he tried to eat two weeks ago.

1. Watch a Few Episodes of The Walking Dead. See the zombies? Notice their impaired cognitive function, lack of verbal ability and odd shuffling gait? This will be you for the foreseeable future.

2. Get Ready to Rumble. Before my wife and I had a child we  argued a grand total of two times over the entire span of our relationship. I’m not even sure what we argued about. If memory serves it was probably something related to how my wife is always leaving the toilet seat up and pissing all over the place in the middle of the night. Whatever sparked the disagreement it paled in comparison to the fights we’ve had as parents. When you have an infant you and your spouse will have an opinion about EVERYTHING. You might even, occasionally, agree on a few issues. The rest of the time you’ll be arguing about important subjects like the brand of diapers you should be buying and whether the generic version of Desitin is a good as the name brand.

3. Invest in a Rewards Program from Your Favorite Coffee Shop or Drug Dealer. The next time your barista or drug dealer asks if you’re interested in joining Starbucks’ reward program or John’s Discount Crystal Meth Deals for Favored Customers say “yes”. The first six months of a child’s life will suck out every last bit of energy you’ve stored since birth and you’ll need every source of it you can find. This goes doubly so if your spouse happens to be breastfeeding. (Side Note: The only thing more exhausting than breastfeeding is listening to your wife describe how exhausting it is to breastfeed.)

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I’m pretty sure my daughter didn’t have a twin but I don’t remember much from the first six months.

4. Document Everything. Take a picture of every sweet little gas bubble you think is a smile, every bath that provokes a blood curdling series of screams and every bottle your child consumes and then promptly vomits back up onto your shoulder. Aside from capturing these treasured little moments and sharing them with others the pictures will provide you with a record of the time you’ve spent with your child.

Why is this important? Because, if you’re like me, you won’t remember anything from this period of time and not because you’ve been drinking heavily. Screwy sleep schedules and grueling routine will render you incapable of remembering anything. If you’re lucky you will have two memories from the first six months of your child’s life (both of which will involve changing diapers).

I wrote a journal to help me remember this joyous time. I’ve even read it a few times. It turns out that I didn’t have an awful lot to say or that my daughter simply wasn’t that interesting. The bulk of my entries begin with “I am so fucking tired,” and are followed by a largely incoherent ramble that ended with “asdlkfjahyihd” or some other mix of letters after I passed out and planted my face on the keyboard.

5. Buy in Bulk. Huggies for boys. Pampers for girls. Xanax aplenty for everyone.

6. Do NOT Buy Cloth Diapers. Cloth diapers are disgusting. Specifically the act of cleaning cloth diapers is disgusting. The world is already going to hell in a handbasket and, let’s face it, a few thousand disposable diapers aren’t going to tip the balance either way. After all what in the hell has the environment done for you lately? Global warming is rampant, two masses of garbage the size of Texas are currently swirling around the Pacific Ocean and the Antarctic is shearing off icebergs the size of continents. Titanic earth is sinking. You might as well save yourself some modicum of dignity and use disposable diapers.

7. Buy Clothing that Complements the Color of Regurgitated Breast Milk or Formula. Little bundles of joy produce large amounts of what is commonly referred to as “spit up”. This term is euphemism for the foul smelling curdled mess of recycled breast milk or formula that you will find adorning every shirt or pair of pants you, your spouse and your child will inevitably be wearing the few times you make it into public.

8. Paint the Walls of Your Home in Colors that Complement Regurgitated Breast Milk or Formula. (See Tip #7 ).

9. Lower Your Standards…Yes All of Them. Cleanliness, sleep, friendships, conversation, warm meals, pants without elastic tops, shirts perhaps even clothes in general are luxuries you can no longer afford and not just because you won’t have any money. You simply won’t have the time to do otherwise. In addition to bidding these ideals a cheery “adieu” let’s add “dignity”, “a sense of self” and “the will to live” to the list.

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Find your center. Live in the now and then embrace the horror that you’re in this, for better or worse, until death do you part.

10. Take a Deep Breath, Meditate and Remember That This Too Shall Pass…and Become Something Even Worse. Barring some unfortunate condition a la the movie “Jack” starring Robin Williams your infant won’t always be an infant. He or she will grow up to become a toddler with the survival instincts of a horny lemming, a preteen with the emotional stability of Lindsey Lohan on a bender, and then a teenager with the the survival traits and sex drive of both Lindsey Lohan and a lemming in heat.

Of course the role of a parent doesn’t end once a child becomes a teen or graduates college and moves into your basement. It doesn’t even end when they find gainful employment or marry. One of the joys of parenthood is that the relationship only ends when one of you dies.

It sounds harsh but, when raising a child, there are harsh realities to face. It costs quite a bit to bring an infant to adulthood, around a million dollars was one figure I saw bandied (see if you looked it up you’d know what this means. I don’t just entertain. I educate) about. The emotional toll is really beyond all calculation.

These are the prices we pay for having sex. Parenting is a lifelong commitment, an investment if you will. The least our children can do is recognize our sacrifices once they’ve made something of themselves or married well.I hope my daughter becomes a productive and happy member of society and not just because I love her and want her to have a meaningful life. Her success is, essentially, my retirement plan and I fervently hope that she has the decency and largesse to send her mother and I someplace nice, perhaps an assisted care facility somewhere in Florida, where we can spend our remaining years after having bankrupted ourselves for her well being.

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