Real parents dish on the most surprising parts of having kids — that no one wants to talk about.
Everyone knows that parenting is simultaneously wonderful and stressful and changes your life forever. But unless you really press your parent friends, they might not tell you the juicy details of child-rearing.
Over on Quora, people with kids of all ages share the stuff they only learned after becoming parents. Some of it's good; some of it's … less good. If you're expecting a kid, or thinking about having one in the not-too-distant future, read on to find out what no one else will remember to tell you — or have the guts to share.
'You'll develop a new sense of what you consider gross'
"You'll eventually notice baby barf on your pants and think, 'Eh, not bad enough to change to go to the store.'
"You'll go out in public and realize you have a little poop on your sleeve, shrug your shoulders, and continue your shopping.
"You'll show up in three-day old clothing to drop kids off at daycare and not even flinch."
'You are scared of silence'
"Children make noise from the moment they wake up until they go to bed at night. So when you hear running/screaming/throwing things/arguing/whining/complaining for 15 hours a day nonstop it becomes eerie to hear silence.
"When they are asleep at night sometimes I will go in the room to check on them to make sure they are still breathing. When they are awake and not making noise I get especially concerned……………………..because I am sure they are up to no good and I need to go and check on them RIGHT NOW!!!!!!"
'Your child could be exactly like your partner'
"After conceiving, carrying, and delivering our baby, when she finally arrived, I expected her to be … well, like me!
"When I first laid eyes on her, my thought process went: Thank goodness we are all alive, I need sleep, and then, wow, she looks a lot like Jay.
"That first night she slept 'skin to fur' with Dad. They frequently snoozed together. Nobody told me how often I'd find her out of her crib and in his arms, nor how cute I'd find this."
'Nobody told me how much my emotional range would expand'
"In just the first year, I would have feelings I'd never even imagined myself capable of, good and bad …
"Your little baby can make you feel lower than low, exhausted, upset, inept and angry, and the next minute you can feel like everything on earth was smiling on you; you hurt from laughing and your heart feels like it's literally going to explode."
'You will often make the mistake of parenting the child you were instead of the child you have'
"That's OK, as long as you recognize it and stop it immediately."
'Children do not do what you say. They do what you do.'
"You can tell them how you think they should approach a problem, a person, a situation. And they will appear to listen, until at least 13, I am told. (I have a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old).
"But what you do is far, far more relevant to them. They will model on your actual behavior, right down to the flaws and tics and things you'd probably prefer to change."
'They are wildly entertaining'
"When they are not driving you crazy or worrying you to death and you are not dying from sleep/sex deprivation and having to clean sh*t off practically everything they are the most charming, funny, endlessly fascinating people you've ever known. Really."
'Being a parent is isolating at first'
"You lose friends without kids to some degree. You stay at home because going out is difficult and the outcome unknown. You may even be near your spouse, but not present with them as you tend to a baby amidst your exhaustion.
"We had to cut my b-day short and go home to feed our child because our babysitter couldn't get him to take a bottle. This can feel suffocating."
'The moment they are out of your sight, you miss them'
"There would be days when you will feel you need a break from your kid but the moment they are out of your sight, you miss them."
'Children give their parents amnesia.'
"My son was born almost 7 years ago. I can’t recall a single detail of my life from 8 years ago. Neither can my wife. We have terabytes of pictures to prove we existed before my son was born.
"Looking at those pictures now is like viewing the alternate reality of a vaguely familiar group of strangers that lived in our house and remarkably knew the same set of family and friends that we did. …
"Without this amnesia, maybe you would always pine for the life you had and therefore have fewer or no children."
'Nobody ever talks about the guilt you feel raising children'
"From the moment my first child was born, I felt guilty about time I spent away from her, not being able to provide her with 'the best' of everything, allowing too much screen time, not being firm enough with discipline, not reading enough books with her, not breast-feeding long enough, not saving enough for college …..everything."
'You might not love your children right away'
"One person told me something that shocked me. That I didn’t, just couldn’t, wouldn’t believe. …
"They said, 'you might not love your children right away. though your animal instincts will kick in whether you do or not, and you’ll easily want to, and be able to kill anyone who even looks at them funny, that fairy book tale, chick flick, Bridget Jones’s Baby adoration, as if flipping a switch, may not happen.
"and it may take years before it does'
"Truth. It took me almost two years of turning the ‘this is what it was like before/this is how it is now’ coin over and over again in my mind to accept, adapt, want, yearn for, and then unconditionally love my children with a love up to the moon and back forever without end.
"There are no words for the fierceness with which I have loved them since."
'People tell you but you don't believe it: how much you will love your children'
"Nobody can convince you that a new person, a complete stranger, one who didn't even exist just a year earlier, will trigger this sort of love.
"You may have searched years for a person you could marry, but now one is just given to you (well, that's the man's point of view) out of seemingly nowhere."