Dear Prospective Parent:
Below you will find two detailed schedules. The first outlines a typical day for you now, in your life without children. Following it is what a typical day will look like should you decide to procreate. Study this second schedule carefully and compare it with the first, noting the changes that will take place once you become a parent. Be advisedand afraid. BE VERY AFRAID.
4:45 amwake up. Glance at alarm clock. It’s the middle of the night! Laugh gleefully to yourself, then drift back to sleep.
9 amget out of bed simply because you need to pee and can’t hold it anymore, not because you have to get up now. But might as wellyou might beat the rush at the gym.
9:30 amfinish your coffee in perfect silence while checking your email without anyone pulling on your leg to come play with him/her. Decide to have another cup because there’s time and why the hell not?
10 amhead to gym. Take your time working out without noticing the kids in the childcare area and how they’re all screaming for their parents. Feel nothing, except endorphin rush. Take your time going from weight machine to weight machine because there’s time and why the hell not?
11:30 amhead home and shower for twenty minutes without anyone opening the bathroom door or yelling for your help. Get dressed fully without forgetting any articles of clothing or altering your outfit depending on whether it could be ruined by spit up.
12 pmhead out to brunch with the girls. Order bottomless mimosas because there’s time and why the hell not?
2 pmmake it home in time for a Walking Dead marathon. Camp out on couch, falling in and out of sleep, because, well, you know why.
6 pmmeet friends for drinks. Talk about current events and entertainment topics, not whether your child is on time developmentally or where the best day cares are located.
8 pmdinner reservations at the new restaurant in town. Linger over appetizers, entrees, and desserts without adjusting your schedule to arrive home in time to not pay the babysitter for another hour.
11 pmhit the couch again for one more episode of The Walking Dead.
12 amgo to bed knowing the next time you leave said bed will be of your own volition.
1 amwake up to the baby’s cries. Wait two minutes like the books say, because the books also say that if you give a PAUSE the baby may go back to sleep on his own and sleep through the night faster than if you go to him immediately. Remember as he continues to cry, and you sweat from every pore in your body, that the books are bullshit. Shake your husband, who would have slept through the blitzkriegs in London, exactly like they tell you not to shake your kid. Once he awakens, confused as to where he is and why he is participating in this event, inform him that it’s time to feed the baby.
1:10 amhead to the baby’s room, where your husband hands the baby off to you after changing him, and shoot daggers with your eyes through the darkness at your husband, who will fall asleep on his way back into bed as you spend the next thirty minutes awake.
2 ammake that more than thirty minutes. Just as you are falling back to sleep, hear your three-year-old emit a scream then run across the hall into your room. Shake your husband until he wakes up and comforts the child with the reasoning that you stayed awake with the little one and need the sleep. Proceed to not go back to sleep for two and a half hours.
4:45wake up to the sound of pre-crying: the baby is snorting and grunting and threatening to start his day. Pray he will go back to sleep as you sweat from every pore in your body.
4:55he’s not going back to sleep. But he’s talking to himself without crying. Pray he continues this, or goes back to sleep.
5:10he’s done talking to himself. The cries begin.
5:15curse those damn books.
5:20your sheets are drenched with sweat. Try to decide if you should give the baby a feeding in the dark of his room in the hopes he will go back to sleep, or if you should just start your day. Realize that whichever choice you make will be the wrong one. Decide to get up while cursing under your breath but loud enough for your husband to hear. Listen as husband wakes up long enough to say, “We’re going to have to sleep train you after we’ve got him handled,” then listen to him start snoring immediately. Take a moment to cry softly into your pillow before retrieving your child.
5:30feed the baby while watching DVRed episodes of cooking shows. Stare longingly at your coffee maker.
5:55look down at baby, who has stopped feeding. Realize he is grinning at you from ear to ear and you didn’t even know it. Grin back with mixture of moderate guilt and overwhelming lovea cocktail you are growing quite accustomed to.
7:00finish second cup of coffee; finish playing with baby, who is now crying. Take him upstairs to put him down for his first nap of the day. Think for a moment that you might lie down for a quick nap then remember with a bitter laugh that you’re a mom! It’s time for the start of your second shift.
7:05jump into the shower. Hear the same tiny footsteps from last night enter your bathroom. Finish showering as your three-year-old watches. Wonder how long it’s kosher for your kid to see you naked.
7:30family convenes downstairs for breakfast. Endure three-year-old’s tantrum over having to eat the food that, up until today, has been his favorite breakfast. Begin eating just as baby starts to cry in the monitor. Decide to nap-train another day, and bring him downstairs to sleep it off in his swing.
8:30say goodbye to husband, who leaves for work.
9:00take three-year-old to preschool. Haul baby along because you’re not allowed to leave him home alone. Wake him up in the process. Listen as he screams the entire way because he’s hungry. Sweat from every pore in your body. Drop the big kid off, then head home with the baby as he screams.
9:15arrive home to find that the baby is asleep.
9:20decide to lie down for a quick nap. Baby wakes up. Feed him.
11having played with baby (“play”= make faces and fart sounds), put him down for nap. Do three loads of laundry. Forget everything else you were supposed to do.
1 pmload baby into car to pick up big kid from pre-school. Listen to his screams of hunger from backseat. Feel helpless guilt. Head home with him and big kid as screams persist. Arrive home to find baby has fallen back asleep. Unload kids and bring inside. Formulate plan to spend a few minutes of quality time with big kid before baby wakes up.
1:10baby wakes up. Plan foiled.
1:15feed baby while big kids climbs all over you. Turn TV to Disney Junior to distract him. Wish you were watching Sex and the City.
Spend the rest of the afternoon playing with big kid, putting baby down to nap, feeding baby, throwing food into crock pot for dinner, running clothes through dryer multiple times to put off having to fold them, staring longingly at bottle of wine on counter.
6 pmhusband arrives home. Go to pee for the first time all day and fall asleep on toilet.
6:15convene for family dinner. Watch big kid refuse to eat anything but crackers while taking turns with your husband holding crying baby.
6:30take baby upstairs for bath. Remember your husband said he would do it tonight. Hand baby off.
7 pmtake big kid upstairs. Try in vain to keep him from running and yelling around nursery where husband is feeding baby. Bathe him as he stands up because he’s decided he no longer sits for baths. Feel your back slowly wither and die.
7:15put big kid to bed. Exit his room just as husband exits nursery. Head together into your bedroom and collapse onto bed. Watch a Netflix episode of 30 Rock. Consider having sex; decide to do it tomorrow.
8 pmfall asleep.*
*Experience a feeling of accomplishment as you drift off. You have kept two children alive for another day, and your marriage remains intact! Decide to consider this a perfect record. Remember what your schedule looked like in the days before marriage and children; realize it was lighter and easier but remarkably less full. Consider the possibility that sometimes a great life is built one load of laundry at a time, and enter unconsciousness with a smile on your face.