1. You will survive the birthing process.
You won’t believe that a human can possibly experience such intense, excruciating pain and live through it. But you will. And oddly enough, you will probably sign up to go through that same horror show another time or two. Mother nature has a way of erasing our memories via a surge of the hormone oxytocin immediately after birth. This hormone induced amnesia will convince you that procreating is a good idea again. What a dirty trick!
2. You will be asked (repeatedly) where did your penis go? Why don’t you have a penis? Are you sad you don’t have a penis? And here lists of people you know categorized into those that have penises and those that do not.
This is part of the territory that goes along with being the only chick living with a bunch of dudes. Its important to give them straight answers and use the correct terminology. They are trying to make sense of how the world works and you are their most trusted source of information. Take advantage of the opportunity to set them straight now, before they begin trusting their peers as their primary source of information. As hilarious as it would be, refrain from introducing them to terms like “Schlong”, “Wang”, “Johnson”, “Dink”, “Dong”, “Purple Helmeted Soldier of Love” and so on. I’m also not a fan of giving little boy’s genitals “cutesy” names. My Dad recounts how uncomfortable it was to go to school where his teacher had the same last name as their family name for their penises. Plus, its awfully endearing to hear a toddler say “Pen-ith”.In case you are wondering, my answers to the above questions: “I never had a penis. I have a va-gin-a. I don’t have a penis because I am a girl. Girls have va-gin-as and boys have penises. Sometimes I am sad that I don’t have a penis because it would be fun to pee my name in the snow. Yes, that’s right, Gramma doesn’t have a penis.”Side note: This is my take on the whole “birds and the bees” talk. Sexuality isn’t a dirty little secret, folks. Its biology. We all have a wang or a hoo hoo, get over it. By being embarrassed or secretive about basic biology we attach stigma to sex, and when there is stigma attached to sex THEN it becomes a dirty little secret. You shouldn’t be ashamed of your parts and what they are made for. WE ALLLLLL HAVE EM. I’m not talking about taking your kid aside and giving them all the lurid details and pro-tips on pleasuring their partner. HELLLLLL NO! But you do your kids a disservice if you don’t tell them the names of their parts and what they are for. I mean they know what their elbow is called and what it does. It should be no different. And don’t stress about making it a “BIG” talk. Make it an ongoing conversation. Your kid wants to know how babies are born, tell them. Don’t go into gruesome detail, but give the poor kid some age appropriate answers. My kids wanted to know how the twins were born so I explained that lots of people are born through a birth canal but some people (like our twins) have to be born through an operation where they open up the tummy. BAM – answers. “Oh, ok” they said, and back to playing they went. Maybe this is my farmer mentality (my kids have seen animals born and animals die) or maybe its my science mentality (kid wants to know why the sky is blue? Good, lets talk about it, and not some frou frou made up crap either). I want my kids to view me as a reliable source of accurate information, and not someone who gets weird, awkward, embarrassed or angry when they have questions. I can be weird, awkward, embarrassed (that’s a lie – I am lacking that emotion) or angry the rest of the time, just not when they need me. That’s just my $0.02. Or maybe its because I have no embarrassment organ that I can talk about these things and have every med student in the building look up my wazoo. I have no shame.
3. You will find yourself bellering the same things that made you cringe when your own mother hollered them at you back in the 80s.
When we were kids my Mom used to drag us out of bed with a horrifying pitchy rendition of “Roll out the barrel” and yelling “RISE AND SHINE!”. My Dad would beller “UP N’ AT ‘EM, ATOM ANT!” Talk about torture. Someone call Child Protective Services. And you know “THE THING” that your parents could say to you when you were being your absolute most rotten and it would stop you dead in your tracks? And you swore you would NEVER use that tactic on your own children. And you’d be damned if you ever used their full name WITH the middle name when reprimanding them for really reprehensible crimes? Welllllll…I hate to say it but these time honoured traditions live on. Guilty.
4. You will say the weirdest things on the phone and not realize how odd your life has become til it is pointed out to you.
Everyday life with kids is very bizarre. They lick things, climb on things, eat the oddest substances, attempt interesting violent manoeuvres upon their siblings, try to stuff their pets into the strangest places, forget to wear clothing, experiment with their bodily functions, destroy priceless treasures in 2.3 seconds. They are like tiny, adorable psychiatric inmates. After some time and sleep deprivation you will become numb to this odd behaviour. It will become commonplace to you. You won’t even notice when you automatically start spouting off: “Wipe your bum first. No. You wipe it first. Then I will do a check wipe. NO! WIPE!” or “Stop licking your brother’s elbow” or “Let the cat out of that macaroni box” or “Stop slapping each other in the eyes” or “Don’t eat that feather. No. No. Put that feather down. DO NOT PUT THAT IN YOUR MOUTH” when you are on the phone with your financial advisor or the pizza guy. They find this highly entertaining (or disturbing). Poor them, they have no idea how entertaining the live show is.
5. You will become intimately familiar with Bob the Builder, Transformers, super heroes, Lego Ninjago, Star Wars. You will know the characters on a first name basis, their strengths, weaknesses and back stories.
Did you know that Bob the Builder has a twin brother named Tom that lives in the North Pole? Did you know that Bob the Builder’s dumper Muck is afraid of the dark whereas Lofty the crane has a fear of heights? Did you know that Bob’s pet cat is named Pilchard (what the feck is that?) and he has a weakness for tea and cookies? He is never anywhere without his handy cell phone and wears a hardhat all the time but is totally ok with dangling off the side of talking machinery wherever he goes? Do you think Bob and Wendy will ever hook up? Did you know that Sir Topham Hatt from Thomas the Train has a wife that wears the pants in the family? I wonder what kind of home life Sensai Wu and Garmadon had to lead to such vastly different career paths (you know, good versus the conventional evil)? Will the ninjas ever reach their full potential? If you have children, I know I am speaking your mother tongue. If you are childless than this last paragraph has made about as much sense as whistling with my bum (which I am well versed at…or so I am told).But please heed this advice – do not attempt to share your old childhood favourites with your children. I assure you wholeheartedly: THEY SUCK. Don’t wreck the magic. In your mind they are still awesome. Leave it at that. I loved Labrynth as a kid and thought I would share the wonder and dazzling imagery with my kids. The first time I beheld David Bowie’s bulging package as an adult was a real wake up call. I repeat: DO NOT EXPOSE YOUR CHILDREN TO AGING POP STARS JUNK!
6. You will experience Pavlov’s Dogs effect around construction sites and really fancy cars.
When our firstborn pup opened his eyes and began to take in the wide, wide world we noticed that any kind of large machine had a wonderful effect on him. All cares were forgotten and he would stare intently at the giant machine, pointing with a fat finger and grunting. Over time we began to learn the names of such machines. Not the wussy names like “digger” but the real deal legit names, like Track hoe and such. Spotting these lumbering beasts in our midst would bring such joy to our wee man cub that I would seek these machines out in hopes of bringing a little joy to his life. His smiles were my reward for the real life “Where’s Waldo”. It wasn’t until we were alone in the car as adults in the big city on a date night that I screamed “LOOK! AN EXCAVATOR!!!” had I realized that I had been conditioned to associate the big boy toys with the sought after smiles of my son. (PS – if you have a kid in this stage I highly recommend “The Mighty Machines” dvds. They are like crack cocaine for preschool boys).
7. You will find yourself living at the rink and not hating it.
I grew up in a family as the only girl for miles around. I was the only daughter, the only niece, the only granddaughter. On both sides. Of course this came with perks (HELL YEAH! ETERNAL REIGN OF THE PRINCESS!) but it also meant that I spent every single freaking weekend of my early years sitting in cold rinks across Alberta. I despised it. I could hardly believe my good fortune when I moved away from home and never had to sit through another horrendous hockey game again. Then I met my Hubs*. He was a hockey player. Now he is a coach, a ref, a hockey dad and a beer league enthusiast. We have 4 boys. I live at the rink. And ya know? Round 2 isn’t so bad. I’m so excited to watch my lil waterbugs with their bulky bodies and little stick legs wobble around on the ice and keep checking over to make sure I’m still sitting there with my handlettered “GO COLTS GO!” sign (yes, I am THAT lady). Who knew that being a hockey mom would be in my cards? And that I wouldn’t despise it?
*not his real name
8. You will never go to the bathroom alone again. Ever.
If you are planning to start a family someday I suggest leaving the door open on public stalls from now on. Lose your sense of inhibition. Lose the shame. Not only do you need to grow comfortable with an audience, but you need to be prepared to field any manner of questions about what are you doing? Why does it look like that? Are you pooping or peeing? I don’t pee like that. It smells funny in here. Let me spray a little of this air freshener all over the floor so its like a sheet of glare ice. Do you need me to start unrolling toilet paper for you? Can I climb on your back while you are on the toilet? I need to go. Are you done yet? Can I have a sandwich?
9. Even though you are a female you will become very curious about the mysterious world of “girls”. What do moms of girls do all day?
I was a girl once. Well, technically I still am. Just a much older model. But for the life of me I can’t really relate to Team Pink. What do they do all day? Do moms of girls just run a 24/7 spa party? Do they play with Barbies all day long? Do girls do your hair for you and talk about baking and periods? Or what? My skillset includes: extracting lego from various orifices, goldfish resuscitation, sandbox construction, food fight etiquette and leg wrestling strategies. Girls are a scary, foreign and mysterious entities. I think I might have a little girl phobia.
10. You will buy your sons dolls, dollhouses, horses, kitchen sets and encourage them to be sensitive and nurturing. They will still make a gun out of toast crust and make motor noise while they push rocks around.
I was thrilled when my boys started to show an interest in my pony collection. Little did I realize they were holding them by the back legs and pointing the heads with deadly precision at the bad guys. This is a hormone fuelled battle that, despite your best intentions, you will not win.
11. Boys love their mothers fiercely.
I will admit that I was a little flabbergasted to discover two more little penises on my 20 week ultrasound with the twins. SERIOUSLY!? FOUR boys? What are the odds? After doing a quick mental tally of all my possible moral transgressions that would have merited such a fate, I came to realize that I am immensely blessed. Boys harbour a deep, enduring love for their mamas. Ever notice how every crazy mob boss or psychopath in the movies has no compassion for humankind, but when it comes to his mama he is a softy? Despite their dirt-caked, boisterous, loud exterior boys are sweet, sensitive, gentle and kind. It brings me great comfort to know that my boys will always have a place in their heart for ME. Note to future daughter in laws: if you mess with my son, I. WILL. CUT. YOU
12. Boys love to wrestle. Their volume and intensity seems to escalate exponentially with increase in their joy quotient.
Boys are like particles. The more energy they gain, the more volatile they become. A playful noogie can quickly escalate into a full out wrestling match (call it what you will, it will ALWAYS be WWF to me). Nobody is immune to the wrath of an overjoyed boy, be it grandparent, little sibling or LCD Flatscreen TV. I love the definition of “Boys: noise with dirt on it”. They are in perpetual motion. The upside? It is very easy to diagnose when they are really sick. If they stop moving, head to the ER. Its that easy. Parenting 101. You’ve been schooled.
13. Poop, bums and wieners will become the soundtrack of your life.
Embrace it. The language of little boys is the purest and most basic humour. The humour of the potty. Don’t fight it. In fact, you need to arm yourself with a couple good excrement one liners to earn you brownie points with your kids. huhuhuhuh I said “brownie”.
14. Boys have no shame in letting it all hang out.
Living with boys means you will become familiar with the human anatomy from all angles, in all lighting, at various rates of momentum. What is more fun than running around like a lunatic? Running around like a naked lunatic. Maybe this isn’t a “little” boy thing. I do recall an awful lot of butts and weiners appearing at rugby games and college pub nights.
15. You will wonder what you did with all your time before. And what kind of an empty, shallow life were you living before kids?
After children you will be amazed with the sheer volume of things you can accomplish in 10 uninterrupted minutes. Given 10 uninterrupted minutes I could throw a meal in the crock pot, shower, apply (somewhat haphazardly) make up, scrounge my hair around into a half-assed style, feed the dog, throw a load in the wash and conceive another litter.
16. You will become a legend in your own time.
Once, you were a person. Now you are someone’s MOTHER. That’s a big deal, man. Remember listening to your parents recount their youth? Recall your grandpa having to walk uphill in a snowstorm with warm potatoes in his mittens (for lunch and their wonderfully heating powers). Your history suddenly is the lore of yesteryear. Your childhood is suddenly “the olden days”. Enjoy this power, my friends. You can ride a freaking unicorn to school if you want.
17. You will become friends with people you never may have met otherwise.
Prior to having kids I had to make all of my own friends. I had to track down people with similar interests, engage in some kind of discourse and make an effort to see them on a regular basis. It was a lot of work. Having kids is wondrous because they do all the work for you. For one, you no longer have time to nurture any friendships that require “work” to maintain. You are lucky if you have time to pee regularly, when are you going to fit in a needy friend? Secondly, you look like shit All. The. Time. You probably have several different bodily fluids from several different people on you at all times. You likely have a cheerio stuck in your hair. You are wearing the same “yoga” pants that you had on for the past 3 days (and slept in) even thought you quit yoga 2 years ago after that awkward session where you ripped a loud one during the downward dog. You might have green marker on your nose. And you just don’t give two shits. The people you will become friends with as a mother are people who honestly don’t care how frazzled and zombie-esque you look. They aren’t there for the eye candy. You can kiss your superficial friends goodbye then too. Your mommy friends will have kids the same age as yours, interested in the same crap (Hockey? Transformers? Dropkicking invisible ninjas?) They likely meld with your parenting technique (otherwise you’d probably already gone head to head at Mom n Tots when Jimmy dropkicked Judy on the jungle gym). They understand you don’t have the time or money to wine and dine. Or likely even talk on the phone. Or bathe regularly. But they don’t care.
The wondrous thing about mommy friends is they are the best people you could possibly have around you. They are the people you need to have around you. They get where you are coming from, there is no need to apologize that your family sucks up every last ounce of your energy. There is no need to explain why you have to reschedule again because pinkeye is making its rounds. It is the most accepting, supportive group of people you can have around you. Mommy friends get it.
Conversely, if you are having trouble determining who your real friends are, pop out a kid or two. The hardcore keepers will show their true colours and all the superficial, snaggly bags will suddenly vanish. Instant friend cleansing! Downside? You now have a brood and hence no social life.
Now don’t confuse wonderful mommy friends with the mommy cliques. These are the people who will shoot laser beams (well, ethically produced fair trade laser beams) at you if you didn’t give birth naturally, with no medication or sound in a bed of organic dry leaves in the woods under a harvest moon. If you bottle feed your baby, “push him away from you” in a stroller, let him play with plastic, own a television, expose him to Johnson & Johnson baby products, apply toxic disposable diapers and haven’t taught him to sign in Gaelic before he speaks English you are a less than ideal mother. These are not mommy friends. Steer clear, folks. I don’t understand these mothers. There are no trophies at the end of this, girls! Being a mother is HARD SHIT. It is probably the hardest job and definitely the highest stakes (well, maybe not THE hardest. The real person who does Homer Simpson’s job. That’s probably pretty serious business too. And pushing the button on the LOST island). I don’t understand why it is so common for women to tear each other down. It is toxic to us all. Lets all get in a circle and hug. Or fist bump at least.
18. Your heart will hurt. A lot.
Prior to becoming a mom I was living a pretty lukewarm life. I mean, I had a lot of joy in it, and a lot of sad stuff happened to. But when you bring a baby into this world it makes your heart grow, just like the Grinch. Suddenly joy is felt MUCH more intensely. You won’t believe the freaking rainbow of love shooting out of you. But it comes with a price. There are strings attached. Or an invisible umbilical cord maybe. When my babies were each born, I felt like an essential part of me was thrust out into the wide, scary world (ew, I said “thrust”). A big chunk of my heart is out there walking around, experiencing life. No matter where I am, what I am doing, I am aware of my children. When they are out of my sight it gnaws at me that a piece of myself, a vital part of my heart and soul is out there in the world without me. I feel so much awe and inspiration and gratitude and ding-dang love for these tiny people. And it hurts. It physically hurts to love that hard. Being a mother wrecks you. It wrecks you from ever being content living a lukewarm ho-hum life of existence again. Once you know that fierce love for another being, you are all in. And it humbles the pants off you too. Every time I look at these little people (usually when they are sleeping otherwise I am too busy trying to keep everyone intact, fed, watered and semi-clothed) I am in complete awe. I feel so blessed and honoured and humbled and privledged to be sharing in the journey of these little souls on earth. What an enormous responsibility and the highest honour for a lowly potty-mouthed farm girl like me? I am so flattered that the Big Guy thinks I am capable of this task and I’m gonna do my darnedest to do a good job.