Some random things I have learned in the last 8.5 years of being a parent/adult.
1. There is nothing in this world that can prepare you for being a parent until you are one. Baby-sitting might help. It certainly can't hurt.
1a. One of the scariest things in life is making life-altering decisions for your kids. Making a decision that will permanently affect the life of another person is petrifying, especially when that person doesn't have the knowledge to give an educated opinion on the subject.
1b. The absolute scariest thought in life is the idea of losing your kids.
2. My senses have been dulled by years of overuse. I completely understand why many senior citizens have hearing problems, vision problems, and drop things on a regular basis. Their bodies have literally been worn to shreds.
2a. The human olfactory system is amazingly resiliant. It can survive such things as baby diaper blowouts, foot funk, and teenage BO in mass quantities. Not to mention failed kitchen/science experiments and that 'something' that inevitably dies in the wall of your house.
2b. The human digestive system is much more subjective than the human nose. It will revolt at the worst possible time, usually 10 seconds before you can make it to any tiled/wooden/non-carpeted surface. This may not be a parental thing, though. I'm sure many a college maintenance staff member can attest to this.
2c. The human sensory system is heightened at the onset of parenthood. You will never sleep again because you will wake at the slightest sound. You will also be able to detect the presence of a dead-silent child standing a foot away staring at you.
3. Every child is a genius. Their creativity knows no bounds and, if challenged, they will prove this theory in every way unimaginable.
3a. If in doubt, gather a room full of parents and watch the one-upmanship fly. Moms are typically better at this than fathers, unless physical prowess is being discussed. Then dads hold their own.
3b. Art supplies are dangerous in the hands of geniuses. Clerical supplies are even worse.
4. Games were never, ever meant to be played according to the rules. They are meant to be dissected and used for any purpose other than playing by the rules. Dominoes, checkers, marbles, and Monopoly are prime examples.
4a. Rule #4 is null and void if one child actually wants to play the game for the purpose of defeating a sibling repeatedly. Then the rules are scrupulously followed.
4b. Rule #4a is null and void if the child scrupulously following the rules loses the game anyway. Then everyone should duck and cover.
5. People who refer to their pets as children irk me. Unless you would actually take a bullet for your animal, please refrain. You love them. They are a large part of your life, and you would have to go through a true grieving process if they passed. I understand that, and I don't deny your right to care for your animal as well as you like. But it is not a child. Thank you.
6. Watching TV shows and movies that you would have made fun of before having children is a rite of passage. 'Teletubbies' was my downfall. One of M1's first words was 'noo-noo,' referring to a blue vacuum-cleaner-like creature on that show. Since he was a late talker, this was a big deal.
6a. If you have reached this stage of parenthood, you probably know what it's like to be the only one in a room who knows who Moose A. Moose is and why someone who doesn't like candy corn reminds you of a song.
6b. If you feel that holding an intelligent discussion about any kids' TV show counts as a successful conversation... you might be a parent. Or a TV exec. But more likely a parent.
7. Once you become a parent, your social contact list shrinks. It's a sad, sad fact. When your life revolves around naptimes and developmental milestones, it's harder to go out and mingle with those whose lives still revolve around sleeping till noon and career milestones. It can be done and has been done but usually not well and/or not for long.
7a. The parents at any given social event will find each other by 10 p.m. because for many of them, this is now past bedtime. We also usually have the faint aura of 'praying the baby-sitter doesn't call' about them. I think we can detect that. It's part of that heightened sensory system.
7b. Making new friends as parents is even harder than making friends in a new elementary school. It's a delicate dance. Finding perfect friends is better than Christmas.
8. Your home before kids can contain things like unprotected movies, unlocked desk drawers, and live floral arrangements. Your home after kids is more secure than Alcatraz.
8a. Your home before kids contains things like clean carpets, organized bookshelves, and only a load or two of laundry per week. Your home after kids contains carpets you don't even want the kids crawling on, bookshelves that turn into hidey-holes when the kids dump all the books out, walk over them and climb in, and loads of laundry that breed before your very eyes.
8b. Your fridge before kids contains things like half a gallon of milk, some wine, and various things to make quick, easy OR amazing, elaborate meals. Your fridge after kids contains two gallons of milk, leftovers from the bulk cooking you did the weekend before, and the wine bottle is emptied each night.
9. Your heart will be full of more love than you ever imagined possible. Even when you lose it at the little brat who TP'd your entire house AND drew on the flat-screen TV with dry-erase marker. And I suppose that is the true measure of being a parent.