By Frank Lowe
Originally published on Advocate.com April 03 2014 6:00 AM ET
Real talk — parents are so overdramatic. They all think they are the first to ever experience raising a child, and every little problem is significantly magnified. Too often we hear myths about the job. These myths even had me scared before experiencing it myself. I am here to tell you, it’s all bullshit. Of course there are exceptions, and I am making broad generalizations, but I can think of plenty of things that are more difficult than being a parent.
Myth #1: When you have a child, you stop having a life.
This one drives me crazy. It makes children sound like these horrible soul-suckers that devour every morsel of time you have. Far from true. Having a child just means creating a new balance. I would imagine the people that originated this myth were complete messes before having children. The bottom line is, if you set parameters, you will still have a life. Yes, your thoughts will revolve around your child constantly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan a fun night out with your friends when you want. What parenting did for me was improve my time management skills, which is a good thing. I know exactly how long it takes me to do pretty much anything now. I have to make endless decisions to determine if I have enough time to do simple tasks. Not exactly a big deal. I just have to budget in time for myself, which has gotten easier as my son has grown older.
Myth #2: Kids make you fat.
No, kids made you fat. Not me. I have always regarded health and fitness as an important aspect in my life. Having a kid didn’t instantly make me lazy and throw out all of my good habits. Sure, I may have had to adjust my workout schedule, and must resist eating off his delectable child’s menu plates, but that’s just will power. As a matter of fact, my body has never been better, so if anything having a child has had an adverse effect to this myth. I think this is just yet another excuse perpetuated by parents using their kids as scapegoats for their laziness.
Myth #3: You will never sleep again.
Nothing makes me more nuts than parents saying they are so tired all the time. Seriously what the hell are they doing when their kids sleep? I have always followed the simple rule, which is sleep when my kid sleeps. They sleep way more than adults as it is, so this shouldn’t be a problem. Yes, I am well aware of colicky babies and kids with sleeping issues. Regardless, they have to sleep at some point. You don’t need to be at your kid’s beck and call at every waking second, and if you plan appropriately, you will get the sleep you need.
Myth #4: Your house will always be trashed.
Again this one pisses me off because I feel it comes from lazy parents who are blaming their kids for their problems. People who are neat and organized will stay neat and organized. People who are messy will downward-spiral into Hoarders territory. My kid has every toy ever invented, and when you walk into my house you would have to look hard to find them. I created clever storage techniques that conceal the clutter, and he knows that any toy he plays with needs to be put away at the end of the night. Yes, playdates get messy, but it takes 10-15 minutes maximum to clean up afterward.
Myth #5: Kids are so expensive.
What the hell are these parents buying their kids? I think kids are as expensive as you want them to be. Proportionally speaking, they cost less than adults, so perhaps these parents are really awful at math or budgeting. Schooling is an entirely separate issue, but I don’t understand parents who go broke sending their kids to private schools or college. I had to pay for my own college, and my son will most likely be paying for his. I would imagine if you have multiple children, they add up quickly; however, you can recycle clothing and toys to save. Also, it’s not as though you have to pay a babysitter three times their rate if you have three kids. It’s math and budgeting, which most people hate to do, so if you neglect this, it can get out of control. Like everything else in life.
Children aren’t an intrusion into your life; they are a humbling dose of reality that forces you to relinquish some of your immaturities. That is not a bad thing. Parents should never use their kids as excuses for their own lack of accomplishments. If anything, their kids should be a motivating factor for them to try to be better people, which is what my son has been for me.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate’s parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.