Half way along a 5-hour road-trip with my boys when they were ages 3 and 1, I made a stop at Ikea. It was a “good enough” way to eat and run around. I mean…Ikea. It’s a blast for parents and kids. (Insert suicidal emoji, here.)
Other families had my same idea: use the kids’ area as a playground. Not the supervised play area. Like: bedroom set-ups and display toys.
As I parented diligently (scrolling Facebook), the woman next to me asked, “19 months apart?”
“Yep. Good guess.”
Pointing at her 5 and 3 year-olds, she said, “I have the same age difference.”
Then, stretching her neck and sighing, she added, “I’m sorry. It gets so much worse.”
Cue: spit take.
I reflected on my anti-#itgetsbetter moment when talking with a friend who called, crying, “My baby’s crying in the crib, my 6-year-old is on his 3rd hour of TV, and I’m just crying as I clean up spilled milk. Am I a terrible mother?”
“No,” I sympathetically laughed with her.
“I know it’ll get easier once the baby’s walking.”
And all I could think was, “I’m sorry. #itgetsworse.”
So I submit to you, parents-with-kids-less-than-2-years-old…enjoy this time. Because…
- Crawling? Walking? Talking? Every milestone is great for making videos and bragging about your precious one’s advanced brilliance; but they exponentially complicate your life. Crawling means paralyzing fear of eating cigarette butts in playgrounds. Walking means they might fall into the toilet. Talking means they serve you attitude, revert to more whining than before, and tell you you’re the worst daddy in the world and don’t get to make the rules, anymore. The endless treadmill workout has begun. #itgetsworse
- Shopping is hell. Remember when you went to Target and your 8-month-old babbled and flirted? Well, now errands become a “mudder” competition (without the bad-ass selfies). You walk up and down aisles saying, “No. No. No. No. No. Put that down. Slow down. Come back here. Do you want a time out? No. No. Come hold my hand. No, we’re not buying a SpongeBob balloon. No,” all the while wrestling fruit snack boxes out of grabbing hands and leaving (your own) trail of tears in the cookie aisle. #itgetsworse
- Saying “no”. Once your kid can talk, life becomes an endless negotiation for cookies, naptimes, pacifiers, iPad time, looking at poop in a toilet, you name it. If you don’t want your kid to have it, they will want it. All you say is “no.” And #itgetsworse
- Parenthood is constant educating…every minute of every day. You never turn your brain off (despite feeling brain-dead 24/7.) You have to teach how to wipe asses, how to put a square peg in a square hole (duh, idiot), how to pour water, how to put a spoon in a mouth, how to say “please”, how to crochet gifts for their 4-yo friends, for chrissake. Let alone applying deodorant and distinguishing there, their, and they’re. #itgetsworse
- Pushing boundaries. They want to play with the TV sound bar, break your favorite faux-Ray-Bans, decorate the toilet with a Sharpie, cut their brother’s hair, finish your wine, reorganize your coffee mugs, throw the spice jars (not the plastic ones, just the glass ones.) You draw a limit, they push it. #itgetsworse
- You think you’re out of the weeds cuz you’re only getting up once a night? Well guess what? Your body knows it’s no longer in newborn-survival-mode. So it betrays you: “Oh, good. No more infancy. Now I demand 7 hours a night.” You’ve entered the 18-year marathon of interrupted sleep. And that’s worse than waking nightly to give bottles. Meanwhile, your colleagues no longer have sympathy for your choice to stay up til midnight binge-watching Homeland when your kid screams crawls into your bed at 4:15 AM and then you can’t get back to sleep until 6:15 because you know the alarm will go off and now you’re old and can’t sleep like you once did and when you do fall asleep at 6:14 it’s one minute until your alarm goes off. Seriously: interrupted sleep with a 3-yo is worse than giving bottles to a 3-month-old at 3AM. Sorry. #itgetsworse