5 Hidden Land Mines of Parenthood That Can Blow Up Your Life
I've talked before about what a disgusting real-life horror film babies are. And we've scared many women out of their dreams of motherhood with this article. Now, don't think I'm trying to talk you out of becoming a parent, because it's honestly been the single biggest driving factor in my own miraculous escape from Bullshit Cavern ... but I'm not letting you go into it uninformed. When people get hit with stuff like this unexpectedly and don't know how to handle it, that's where bad parents are incubated. So here's a heads up. Don't say I didn't warn you when you find out that ...
Sex Becomes a Psychological Clusterfuck
So let's skip right past the initial healing time required after the delivery of a child before jumping back on the horse -- the fuck horse -- and get to the part that most people aren't prepared to hear. The part where sex can become so painful, it isn't an option. And it can last for goddamn years. Feel free to comb through this site for examples, but I can sum it up with this quote (corrected for grammar):
"My baby boy is 16 months, and every time my husband mentions intercourse I get goosebumps all over. I guess it's just the thought of painful intercourse. I'd say, about 60 percent of time, I end up in tears."
Which isn't nearly as sexy as it sounds.
Sixteen months after giving birth. And that isn't even an extreme case. Read around in there -- just a few posts up is a woman who is still having painful sex after four years. If you're ballsy enough to type "painful sex after childbirth" into Google, you can find these stories everywhere.
But the really fucked up part is that the physical problems are only half of the issue. Women know that men are sexually needy. They've been spoon-fed that idea since before they were old enough to even understand that genitals do more than pee. So after a few months, it's only natural that a woman starts worrying that because she's not able to perform, is her husband going to find it elsewhere? Is he emotionally detaching because she's not able to physically connect? And how long can they keep this up? If she can't provide him with the physical part of their relationship, is she being selfish by trying to keep them together? Should she just let him go? Is she a rare case of some sexual freak accident? Is it fixable?
"Is he masturbating right now?"
In almost every case I've read, women are universally embarrassed about the issue and have a hard time bringing it up to their doctor. In just as many cases, their doctor tells them to "use more lube," which often doesn't work, which only makes the psychological issues stronger.
At the same time, pain aside, you often get two people with different feelings toward having another child. One says, "Hell no. Let's wait a few years," while the other is gung-ho about shooting life from their crotch. So inevitably, one person becomes hyper cautious about protected sex, while the other is much more loose with when and where they drop trou. Both of you start planning sex around ovulation, each coming up with different times for different reasons.
And then, of course, come the sex rules. Every couple does it after their first baby. They start out with "No sex while the baby is in the house. We'll get a sitter or something and just go out for the night." When that becomes a horrible, unrealistic pain in the ass, they modify the rule to "OK, but just not while he's awake. We'll wait until he goes to sleep, and then we'll slap around each other's hangy-down parts." Eventually, even that gets whittled down to something obvious, but still sounds like a rule: "Not when he's in the same room." And then the final amendment where you walk into the living room and say, "Here are some cartoons and some cookies. Sometimes a mommy and a daddy take showers together to save water."
"You think they're fuckin'?"
Your Parents Think They Have a Say in Raising Your Child
Your entire life has been governed by a relationship that in any other non-work setting would be considered unhealthy, abusive and downright insane. "I command. You obey. Failure to do so will bring about undesirable consequences." And as grim as that sounds, it's necessary -- it's what teaches you to not stick a fork into a light socket or bite people who displease you. The problem is that once you move out on your own, the sense of authority attached to your parents takes a while to fade. For instance, I have several friends who, even in their 30s, hid their cigarettes when their mothers came to visit. On more than one occasion, when she made an unannounced appearance, I was blamed for the pack that they didn't have time to stash. Fully grown, completely independent adults.
That's not totally the fault of the kids, though you'd never hear me say that to their little wussy mama's boy faces. You don't ruin an opportunity to make fun of your friends -- you just don't. So it kind of pains me to say, knowing that they'll read this, that the blame rests just as much on the parents' shoulders. As hard as it is to look at your parents as "just another human like me" after a lifetime of viewing them as the real-as-dick, final word of law, it's just as hard for them to give up that power and step down from the throne.
"It's called a 'shroom.' Here, let me show you -- God knows your stupid father won't."
For that reason, when you settle down and have your own kids, the new grandparents' parental instincts kick in, and at every opportunity, they will jam their demands and advice in your face until you vomit self-help books. On a 70-degree day as your child opens the front door to go play, you'll hear, "Oh, make him put a coat on before going outside. It's cold out there." As he's putting bread in the toaster, "Here, let me get that for you. You don't need to be using a toaster. You'll burn yourself."
A precious few will escape it, but I'm telling you as straight up as I can, most of you will not. We are biological machines programmed to create new ones and fill them with data. It's a perpetual loop of creation and learning, designed specifically to out-think the generation before us. It's in our nature to carry out our genetic programming, and where grandparents are concerned, that idea is terrifying, because "Holy shit, I once saw my kid play with a cat turd. And now he has a child of his own." All older generations think that the newest generation is getting dumber, even though that has never been the case in all of human history. So they think they have to step in and offer their parenting services so you know the "correct" way to do it.
"I'm teaching him how to beg for change. You think you're too good for hoboing?"
What you have to make them understand is that they raised you. Everything they taught you was for this exact moment -- the time when you'd be passing along all you've learned to your own meat machine. So if they're trying to take over or interject themselves into your parenting duties, does it mean they don't trust you to raise a child on your own? They should, because you're using the information they provided. So if they raised you to be someone they don't trust with responsibilities of this magnitude, why are you allowing them to do the same thing to your own child?
If they still don't get the point, you just have to grow a fucking pair and tell them with face-punch seriousness, "This is my child. You can give me opinions and advice all you want, and I will absolutely respect that, because I kind of like the way I turned out. Serious props on that whole Me thing. But where this child is concerned, you are under my rules now. Not the other way around. If you can't respect those rules and back off, I start governing and monitoring the time you spend with my kid."
"What did I tell you about using homophobic and racial slurs around my kids?"
Then walk away without flinching while something explodes behind you.
Everyone Will Give You Advice (Whether You Want It or Not)
Sometimes, a parent just needs to vent. Your kid has been an unbearable asshole for two solid days, and you're nearing your breaking point. If he were a grown man, you'd fight him. The work you used to hate has now become your escape from the stress. Stay-at-home parents grow to love small things that they never considered before, like a trip to the grocery store alone. So you finally find someone who will listen, and you just dump that shit like a Dave Matthews tour bus sewage tank.
You know your kid is just going through a completely normal bad spell, and it'll pass. You just needed to get it off your chest. But the person you're talking to doesn't understand that, so they start handing out advice like a cocaine-fueled Dr. Phil, and it's taking everything you can muster to keep your eyes from rolling completely out of your head.
"No, that's excellent advice. In fact, I'm doing it right now. What? Of course I'm not just saying that."
The thing is, when it comes from other parents, it's at least semi-bearable. You know they've been through it, and there's a chance that what they're saying could actually help your situation. They have solid, hardcore evidence that their method worked, and it cannot be refuted. The problem is that most of them just assume that because it worked for them, their method will work for everyone. "I just calmly explained to my 7-year-old that he was behaving irrationally, and he immediately cleaned his room and then gave me 20 dollars in restitution for the mental anguish he caused." Dude, my kid is shitting in the bathtub and then playing "submarine" with it. "Irrational" isn't exactly a concept he's familiar with.
But the advice you'll grow to hate on day one of being a parent is the shit that comes from single people without children of their own. I talked about that in this article a few months back, and parents can already guess the type of response it drew: messages from single, childless people, defending their legitimacy on giving parenting advice. We know it because we used to be that person with those same views and that same attitude. And after a year or so of living life as Mom or Dad, we looked back on that and just laughed until we caught on fire from the friction in our lungs' lining.
"And then she said, 'I've taken Child Psychology.' I nearly lost it right there!"
Now, that's not saying that people without kids can't give good advice. Some of the best advice I've ever gotten has come from my best friend who has no kids and never plans on having them. But put him side-by-side with someone who's lived the life and dealt with the inescapable howling of a child with a 103 degree fever, and everything he's saying is guesswork. Theory. The parents win every time, because when asked, they can provide a solid yes or no answer to the question, "Did it work?"
It's only when you become a parent yourself that you stop at some point and ask your friends, "Wow -- how did you sit and politely nod while I just talked completely out of my ass like that?"
"It's OK. We were all that way once. Just cry it out."
Kids Can and Will Dictate Your Relationships
My oldest son had a friend we'll call "Unfixable Thieving Little Fuckhead." "Thief" for short. My ex-wife was friends with his parents. Every weekend, Thief would come over to play -- and though he was usually a little hyperactive, he was at least manageable. At school, though, he was known for constantly getting into trouble, whereas my kid was kind of the foil to that: good grades, never needed discipline, extremely polite. Then one day, my son came home with a cellphone. Which was odd, because we hadn't bought him a cellphone.
Obviously, he stole it. And like any reasonable parents, we didn't blame Thief for it. Our son made that decision, and he had to deal with the consequences. But little by little, Thief's influence started to show up, until my ex caught him showing our kids how to surf porn on the Internet. And that was it. She drove him back home and had to tell his parents that he was no longer allowed to come over. Since the removal of Thief, we've not had a problem with any of our kids in that capacity.
Though we keep losing our TVs. We haven't figured out why.
But the second she talked to his mom and dad, her relationship with them was over. They don't want to hear another parent tell them that their kid is a massive problem, because it reflects badly on them. And you can't really hang out after that, because it means your kids will end up hanging out as well, which defeats the whole "Stay the fuck away from my children" rule.
I've lost friends, too, but for different reasons. There are people out there who just don't like hanging out with children in the room. They want to talk about adult subjects. They want to make adult jokes. They want to show you the new tattoo they got on their dick, and they just don't feel comfortable whipping it out after that whole "Class X" fiasco. So they don't come over as much, which leads to further whittling as time goes on ... until they eventually just stop showing up at all. Such is human nature. I don't blame any of them for it.
But it happens, and if you're not prepared for it, it will sucker punch you right in the ear. It's why when someone gets married or has kids, they suddenly become friends with other married couples or parents. Their new status separates them from their friends, and they gravitate toward people with similar interests and lifestyles.
"Here's to freaky four-way sex!"
If you're one of millions of people out there who are unfortunate enough to be single parents, kids will absolutely influence your romantic decisions as well. If the person you're dating doesn't get along with your kids, it's going to be up to you to either find a way to make peace or sever the relationship completely, no matter how nice their ass is. It's a hard motherfucker to deal with, but that's the cold reality. I'm currently engaged, but if my kids and my fiancee didn't get along, it would have never made it to that stage. The kids come first, always, and I wouldn't be able to make that commitment until the relationship between them was stable.
And I know that some of you out there are puffing up your chest and saying, all badass, "I date who I want to date. If my kids have a problem with that, tough shit. These are my rules, and they bend to my will. They don't run the house. I do." And you're right. It is your life and your rules. But what I'm saying is that if you don't do something to fix it, and you continue on with the relationship anyway, you're still allowing the kids to dictate the relationship by adding stress to it. It's not just a case of them picking and choosing who you're going to be with. They will, even unintentionally, steer your love life simply by existing.
"It's really far down, huh? Imagine what it would be like if you just accidentally fell out of there."
All Your Plans and Strategies Get Amended or Flat-Out Vetoed
I can't tell you how many times I've seen this happen. You have your first child and plan on taking a few months off before heading back to work. You just need enough time for bonding, as well as finding a good, trustworthy baby sitter. So after a few months, you nail one down and head on back to your job. A month later, you start getting weekly calls from the sitter. She's constantly getting sick, and you know from experience that she's using her fake "sick voice" -- in reality, she's tired of not being able to hang out with her friends, instead having to listen to your asshole kid scream for hours at a time while she wipes shit off of his back. But every time she calls in, you have to do the same at your own job. Your work history is now hinged on the work ethics of a teenage girl. So you look for another month until you find another sitter. One who's old enough to have a menstrual cycle. A month after that, same problem. What the fuck?
"I think I'm just gonna go ahead and take off. Your mom should be home in a few hours."
That's when you realize that baby sitters make jack shit, so it's easy for them to say "Fuck this" and just take the day off. So you up the ante and look for a good child care service -- and then promptly shit your pants when you see how much they're charging, on top of the lengthy background checks and paperwork involved.
In my area of the country, many people have to go on government assistance when they drop down to a single-income household. The dad works full time. The mom is at home, waiting to give birth -- and then still at home after the delivery, recovering with her newborn. And that single income, in many cases, isn't enough to support a full family. So when the mother finally does get back to work, and you take into consideration everything I've just told you, you get this situation:
"Read it word for word. What's the exact law on me shooting her in the face?"
The second she starts working again, the government assistance gets pulled. It seems fine at first, because she's making up for it with an actual income. But then she has to take out money to pay for the sitter. Then she's adding in gas that she wasn't using before at these ridiculous, almost criminal fucking prices. When the sitters disappear and she has to start using a child care service, suddenly she's bringing home so little money, it's actually cheaper to just stay on fucking welfare. This isn't an isolated case. This is a totally common problem, and it's worldwide. If you don't have a six-figure a year income, there's a chance you're going to be dealing with it.
In my case, my ex-wife had to resort to working weekends so that one of us would always be there with the kids. What that meant was that on her days off, I'd be working, and vice versa. We rarely saw each other, because as one of us was walking in the door, the other would be walking out. And that was us being lucky that our respective workplaces were flexible enough to allow modified schedules to accommodate it. Many people don't have that option, so they end up taking the financial equivalent of Ron Jeremy's big, hairy balls softly flopping against their cheeks while they sit with a calculator and try to figure out which bills aren't going to get paid this month.
Dude, you can hide the marks, but you'll never be able to get rid of the smell.
Don't let any of this scare you off from having kids -- being a parent is seriously the best thing that ever happened to me, and I wouldn't take a second of it back for anything in the world. But don't let the parenting books and bubbly family sitcoms paint an unrealistic picture for you. If you go into it educated, you'll be in a far better position to make it work out in your favor. They should be required by law to teach this kind of shit in high school. Dick jokes and all.
John has a Twitter. So suck it.
For more Cheese, check out 5 Ways to Avoid Your Terrible Parents' Mistakes and The 4 Most Important Things to Know as a Gamer Parent.