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What I Wish I Knew Before Having Kids

The Things I Wish I Knew Would Change About "Adulting" After Kids

Before I had children, I was blissfully ignorant as to what real adulting is all about. I had a mortgage, student loans, and a car payment, but none of that compared to what I was in for when my first child was born. Fevers, tantrums, navigating the boy's department in a futile attempt to fall in love with something on their two tiny racks standing next to 30 racks of girls' stuff — that's when life got hard.

Up until the moment I gave birth, I never for one second worried about another person's bodily functions. Today, as a mother of four, I am constantly watching facial expressions and listening for gurgling, making mental notes of skin tones so as not to miss the chance to catch vomit in my hand before it hits the carpet.

And no, I don't have quadruplet infants. These clowns that I am following around with cupped hands range in age from a year old up to almost 9. This should no longer be an issue with the older kids, but here I am every flu season wondering why in the hell we ever bought a house without hardwood floors in the bedrooms. Hilariously, we bought this house after all of our children were born . . . sleep deprivation makes you do really stupid things.

Prior to being a mother, I had heard the phrase, "You can't please all of the people all of the time," and thought, give me a break! My kids will love everything that I buy them to wear, every meal that I prepare to nourish them, and they will certainly cherish '90s rap just like their painfully-white Midwestern mother. All of these dreams were shattered as soon as I placed them on the shelf.

All of these dreams were shattered as soon as I placed them on the shelf.

Our daily routine will undoubtedly be interrupted by someone in crisis mode because I have laid out his favorite hoodie, which he has worn every day for the past six months, by the way, but has determined overnight to be the ugliest thing in the world. Or I will make a delicious dinner for my suddenly lactose intolerant, vegetarian, gluten-intolerant little one. This is the same child who ate an entire box of cereal topped with a gallon of milk and a pound of bacon on the side for breakfast yesterday. And we won't even talk about what they want to listen to on the radio. If Tupac really is dead, which I cannot be 100 percent sure about, I can picture him rolling!

Have you ever had the pleasure of doing math homework with a school-aged child? If not, please help yourself to a seat at my dining room table any Sunday through Thursday evening. I am the one on the floor in the fetal position crying because despite the fact that I have a bachelor's degree, I must have missed grade school completely!

I understand why all the parents in the 1980s drank beer, smoked cigarettes, and voraciously read the newspaper. I'd gladly cover my fingers with newsprint and hide my head in the obits if it meant that my children could not read the confusion on my face. The cigs would calm my nerves and the beers would at least make it kind of fun. Instead, I sip on my Diet Coke while googling Common Core math and saying a Hail Mary.

When I was childless, I went to sleep with no fears of being woken up in the middle of the night by anything other than my husband's snoring. Since becoming a mother, it is with almost 100 percent certainty that I will not make it through the night without a cry, scream, laugh, or crash jolting me from my peaceful slumber. I particularly like it when someone comes and pries my eyelids open with a fat, sweaty finger and says, "Mom! I just wanted to tell you that I am awake, but I am going to go downstairs and watch TV so that you can rest."

My closet door locks from the inside and creates a soundproof booth. If I wasn't sure that they'd quickly give up a search and rescue effort after they got bored, leaving me to suffocate among my husband's sweaters and dresses that I will never fit into again, I would probably sleep in there.

I have no idea what I thought motherhood would be like. I can't remember what my husband and I did in a house alone.

I have no idea what I thought motherhood would be like. I can't remember what my husband and I did in a house alone. I know that it was always spotless and the bills were always paid on time. And I am pretty sure that I didn't have to clean his dinner up off of the floor where he tossed it or wipe jelly off of his face or out of his hair.

For nearly a decade, I have either been pregnant with, giving birth to, or attempting to raise someone who will become a decent human being. They make me happy. They make me angry. They make me the person that I love to be: their mom. I cannot fathom my life before them or what it will be like when they are grown and don't need me anymore. And despite being tired and crabby and a disorganized disaster, I wouldn't change a thing.

Well, except for that one time I was shaving my legs and noticed a pair of eyes creeping at me through the shower curtain, which caused me to scream, drop the razor, and have to wear three Band-Aids on my ankle to my husband's company Christmas party in lieu of stitches. I would probably change that.

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