13 Rules for Not Telling Me How to Raise My Kids

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Seems like lately there are a lot of articles floating around the internet that are filled with “rules” for how we should or shouldn’t be raising our children —  a lot of insufferable people giving out unwanted advice to unwilling recipients. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick to death of being told what I need to do with my own kids from people who know nothing about my kids (and maybe about their own, either). So today I decided to switch it up and give those people a few rules of their own to follow, since Facebook has yet to activate the highly-desired “dislike” button for their undesirable posts.

1. Don’t worry about my child’s temperature. Isn’t he cold, you ask? Did he SAY that he was cold? Does he appear to be shivering? Blue lips? Early signs of hyperthermia? None of the above? Then I’m not worried and you shouldn’t be, either.

2. Don’t tell me how to discipline my child. Oh, you think threatening to whack your kid with the metal side of your belt is an adequate method of punishment? Your child’s future therapist will likely disagree, but that’s none of my business. Consequently, my fondness for the time-out method is none of yours. Let’s agree to disagree and move on.

3. Don’t you DARE utter the phrase “that would NEVER happen if it were my kid….” Because it’s NOT your kid. And that’s the bottom line.

4. Don’t play pediatrician. Believe it or not, my kids have one already. One with an actual medical degree. No, not a Google University degree like yours. A real one. That’s why his opinion will always matter more than yours.

5. Don’t tell me what to feed my kids. Nobody cares that you had to take out a second mortgage on your home to fund your child’s organic-only, soy-free, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, GMO-free, vomit-inducing diet. If you see my kid eating a bag of Doritos, mind your damn business.

6. Don’t tell me how much TV my kids should be watching. It’s not exactly breaking news that watching too much SpongeBob isn’t raising any IQ points. No need to state the obvious.

7. If you have no children of your own, then don’t. Just don’t. Seriously, don’t even open your fat mouth.

8. Don’t tell me what I should be offended by or tired of hearing from other people. So you have seven sons and get miffed every time someone has the gall to say “boys will be boys”? Well guess what? Boys WILL be boys. Insane, rough, energetic, loud, raucous little boys. Chances are people are just saying that to be polite, anyway. Because “your kids are a bunch of psychotic hooligans” doesn’t usually go over as well as intended.

9. Don’t judge my decision to work or to stay at home. People need about four incomes to afford child care and a home these days. Going to work isn’t an option for everyone. Staying home with the kids is not an option for everyone (it’s also not the paradise some imagine it to be, either). That’s why this is one of the most difficult decisions a woman (or man) will ever make. So tread VERY lightly if you want to share your opinion about it. Better yet, just keep that opinion to yourself.

10. Always. Think. Before. You. Speak. And when in doubt? Take some advice from my girl, Gwen Stefani. Don’t speak.

11. Don’t tell me how many gifts Santa should bring my kids, or how many dollars the Tooth Fairy should leave under their pillow, or how much candy should be in their buckets on Halloween. When it comes to children, I AM Santa. Not you. If I want to spoil them rotten or leave them nothing at all, that’s my decision and I will gladly deal with the repercussions without any input from you.

12. Keep your religious beliefs to yourself. Trust me, you’re not “saving” anyone. So save it.

13. Don’t expect me to abide by your narrow definition of politically correct. I shouldn’t be made to feel as though I’m perpetuating gender stereotypes every time I buy my daughter a Barbie doll, a pretend make-up kit, or a sparkly princess dress. If it’s going to put a smile on her beautiful little face, I’m going to buy it. While we’re on the subject, however, please note that if my son were to also ask for a princess dress, then I’d happily oblige. I love my children and want them to be happy, regardless of their favorite color or dress-up item. It isn’t about politics; it’s about the smiles on their faces.

Mom Guilt: The Working Parent Edition

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Want to hear something ironic? I work for a parenting magazine, and a huge part of my job is finding fun stuff for people to do with their kids and sharing the stuff I find with the community. But I spend so much time looking for fun stuff other people can do with their kids that it takes a load of time away from me doing fun stuff with MY own kids.

First, let me say this: I love my job. Let me repeat (and not just because my boss may or may not browse through my blogs from time to time), I LOVE my job. I can’t say I’ve ever had a job that I love, doing something that I truly enjoy, and feeling like I am making valuable contributions to society using the skills and creativity that I have always known I possessed. As much fun as it was slinging pastrami sandwiches at a kosher deli in Brooklyn for eight years, it wasn’t exactly my calling.

But this job? This is as close to “my calling” as I’ve ever been. Don’t get me wrong, it comes with quite a bit of stress and pressure, but what job doesn’t? At least, what CAREER doesn’t?

I did the Stay at Home Mom thing for a very long time, and it certainly had its ups and downs. Now that I’m working, I never realized just how much of myself I was available to give to my children when I was literally always available for them. We could pick up and go whenever we wanted. There were no schedules to coordinate, no deadlines looming, no emails to answer first. If we wanted to go to the park, we went. If we were low on groceries, to the supermarket we’d go. If they wanted to watch all three Toy Story Movies in a row, I knew we would just play together later. We were together all the time and they loved it.

And I…liked….it. Kind of. Well, as any Stay at Home Mom will tell you, being around your kids 24/7 can be draining. There are no breaks, no real help from anyone else. It’s on YOU to keep those kids happy around the clock. It’s tough stuff. So when the opportunity arose for me to take a job where I could keep a flexible schedule and often work from home, well, mentally and financially speaking, turning it down was never an option.

So while I’m very familiar with the Stay at Home Mom depression, I’m new to the whole Working Mom guilt. And, boy, is it something else entirely. When I tell people I can work from home, I think they envision this utopian ideal wherein I’m simultaneously baking cookies, overseeing fun craft projects, and emailing my boss all in perfect unison. How lucky I must be, to be able to accomplish so many tasks at once!

Well, in fact, I DO accomplish all of these things at once, but perfection it is NOT.

Allow me to set the scene for you.

It’s 3:30pm on any given weekday. My son is working on his math homework, that hellish Go Math common core homework book open in front of him. He’s crying a little because he doesn’t understand how to solve 15-7 by “making a ten” first. Quite frankly, neither do I, and I’m about to cry along with him. At the same moment, my three-year-old daughter is climbing on my back, shoving her Princess Sofia floor puzzle in my face and begging me to help her finish it. I glance over at the clock and see that if I don’t start dinner soon, I’ll have hunger meltdowns thrown into the mix. So I get up and head to the fridge to start cooking.

I wash and chop and slice and prep while my son reads his “book buddy” to me, hoping he’s actually reading what it says and not just making up random things to avoid using his brain. My daughter lingers dangerously over the cutting board, narrowly missing my razor-sharp knife with her tiny fingers as she tries to reorganize the veggies in a futile attempt to “help” me cook. I stop for a quick minute to check my work email, remembering something important I’d forgotten to do earlier. I see that I have 15 new emails and realize that the thing I forgot to do has spiraled into into an entirely new problem, and I absentmindedly spend another 20 “quick minutes” attempting to rectify it.

Suddenly I hear the sizzle of hot liquid hitting the stove and I realize my potatoes are boiling over, which is my reminder to check the oven and find that I’ve overcooked the crap out of the chicken. I look up and find Princess Sofia puzzle pieces and sliced vegetables strewn about the living room— my daughter’s passive aggressive way of displaying her resentment for my ignoring her. My son hands me his homework to check and I try to explain that “We bilted a snwmn” is spelled incorrectly, which immediately prompts a tantrum because, according to him, it IS spelled correctly and I’m the MEANEST MOM EVER and he just wants to go play video games but I WON’T LET HIM and his homework is DONE…..

And then my night-shift-working husband emerges from hibernation, bitching about us all making too much noise and waking him up, and wanting to know why the house smells like burnt chicken.

Fast forward a few hours; dinner is done, baths are done, husband’s off to work, kids are tucked in bed. And me? I’m on the couch, laptop open, typing away—finally able to get some work done.

The sad part is that I actually AM lucky to be able to do this with my family because I’m home from work in time to make dinner and oversee homework. Some working parents don’t get home until well after the kids are sleeping. And as insane as the afternoons with my family are, it’s a whole other type of insanity when you don’t even get to see your kids during the day at all.

The part I hate is when my daughter looks at me with her heart-meltingly innocent baby blue eyes and asks me “mommy can you play with me?” and I have to say no because I have work to do. Or when my son’s school sends home a note about yet ANOTHER school fair and I try to move heaven and earth to make it there, every single time, because I never want to let him down.  Or when I’m up very late, typing away into the wee hours of the night, and it causes me to wake up like Oscar the Grouch, ready to bite the head off of anyone who dares to ask me for plain Cheerios after I’ve already poured milk on an entire bowl of the honey-nut ones.

Sometimes I worry that my kids’ happiest childhood memories will be overshadowed by mental images of Mommy hiding behind a computer screen.

I love that I love my job. I don’t know how many people can say that and mean it, but I love having a job I enjoy, a job I’m proud to do. And financially speaking, I REALLY love that I can finally start putting some money away to someday, somehow, possibly, hopefully, maybe be able to afford my family’s first real home. Or our first trip to Disney. Or maybe even start up a college fund (well, after I’m done paying for my own college loans).

As stressed as I feel most of the time, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. I’m sacrificing a lot, I know. But I do believe that in the end, it’s worth it.

I just wish it wouldn’t feel like my kids are the ones making the biggest sacrifice. Hopefully someday they’ll understand why.

The Ten Super Moms I’ll Never Be (No Matter How Hard I Try)

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I’m just jumping right in today, as the title basically speaks for itself. Here we go!

  1. Super Healthy Mom – Her kids don’t have a clue what the hell gluten is, but they are terrified of it. She thinks Ronald McDonald is the spawn of Satan, and she’d rather die than be seen holding a Happy Meal. While her grocery bill is quadruple the size of a standard grocery tab, the three-acre, fully organic garden growing in her backyard keeps her away from the wicked, non-locally grown produce items desecrating the aisles of the nearby supermarket. Oh, and GMO’s are sure to be the cause of earth’s apocalypse. She told me so.
  2. Super Workout Mom – We all remember this chick, right? That horrid “what’s your excuse” woman? Shhh, I know, I know. I want to punch her in the face too. Thankfully, not all the Super Workout Moms are as bitchy as she is, but they do all seem to share a knack for making the rest of us feel like giant walking blobs of shit. Somehow, her post-pregnancy body is even better than her pre-pregnancy one. But it makes sense, since she’s a busy one: she lifts 100-pound CrossFit weights with just one pinky finger all weekend long, and she’s training for a 26-mile marathon every other day of the week. She’s got at least twenty pairs of those Lululemon yoga pants, which is good because she doesn’t ever take a day off. I guess I wouldn’t either, if my kids could play handball off my abs.
  3. Super Career Mom – People often ask this mom “HOW do you do it all?” but no one really knows the answer (maybe not even Super Career Mom herself). Somehow she balances a great career with being a great mom. I haven’t much to say about Career Mom, because her mysterious ability to be both a boss at work (literally) and also be a boss at home is seemingly impossible and somewhat mind-boggling. Yet somehow she does it. And she’s got the financial ability to purchase a decent home in 21st century America to show for it. Kudos.
  4. Super Clean House Mom – You know how you turn into a psychotic house-scrubbing maniac every time company is coming over? Well Super Clean House Mom is like that all the time, even without the looming threat of some snarky relative pointing out that the blades on the ceiling fan need to be vacuumed or whatever. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but this OCD mom’s BFF is probably her precious Swiffer Sweeper. Not a single speck of dirt occupies a surface in her home, and her family just seems to KNOW better than to leave their crap all over the place. I’d be impressed, if I weren’t so busy looking at my dusty fan blades.
  5. Super Well-Behaved Kids Mom – Is it positive reinforcement? Negative reinforcement? Is reinforcement even needed, or did she just win some kind of secret parenting lottery which granted her perfectly angelic children? Whatever it is, Super Well-Behaved Kids Mom is doing something right. Her kids clean their room, set the table, get good grades, say “please” and “thank you.” And they’ve NEVER sold one of their birthday gifts to a kindergarten classmate for five dollars (yes, my son did that). These kids are seriously flawless. Come to think of it, there’s actually a 50/50 chance that they’re aliens. If so, then they really need to head back to their home planet, because they’re making the rest of us look bad.
  6. Super PTA Mom – Super PTA Mom wants to change the world, one bake sale at a time. And thank goodness for that, because someone has to deal with all these pesky school politics and holiday fairs. Considering the fact that afternoon dismissal regularly conjures a social paralysis in me that I haven’t experienced since the first day of high school, it’s probably safe to say that not everyone is well-suited for such a job. Hats off to you, PTA Moms. Seriously.
  7. Super Fun Mom – If moms were government organizations, this chick would be the post office. Neither snow, nor hail, nor rain, nor sleet (or however the hell it goes) will keep this determined mama indoors with her kids. She’s at the park, the museum, the movies, the zoo, the amusement park, the NASA Space Station boarding a rocket ship for a family tour of the moon. She is, hands down, THE MOST FUN MOM EVER. The only video games her kids play are the ones where they all dance around the living room together, and I’m pretty sure she only owns a computer for the purpose of researching more fun shit to do. She kind of makes me hate fun.
  8. Super Friend Mom – This mom boasts a pretty impressive lineup of BFF’s, especially for someone at least a decade or two out of college. Her kids’ playdate schedule is booked solid thru next year, and she actually still talks to people ON THE PHONE. Like, just to say hi and stuff. Her stress levels are probably much lower than most because she does “girls night out” at least once a month (gasp!). She’s kind of like an adult reminder that the “popular girl” doesn’t always grow up to be a total loser after all (to the sad disappointment of wallflowers everywhere).
  9. Super Holiday Mom – She has the kids’ Halloween costumes purchased in August, Christmas shopping finished by September, and Easter baskets ready to go in February. She’s always at least one holiday ahead of everyone else. Her outdoor decorations seem to defy the laws of physics, with displays so dazzling they occasionally cause traffic accidents on her street. Her Elf on the Shelf has a more exciting life than most Hollywood celebrities, and every December you find yourself wondering if Super Holiday Mom’s husband is Santa Claus himself.
  10. Super Pregnant Mom – She’s nine months pregnant, wheeling a double stroller through the supermarket with one arm, and pushing a cart full of groceries with the other. To her, the giant round bump in her mid-section is nothing more than a mere mosquito bite. She accomplishes more in her third trimester of pregnancy than some people do in their entire life. It’s almost as though she doesn’t even realize there’s a person living inside her.
  11. Super Not Super At All Mom – I’m none of the above, as you might have guessed. I’ve certainly tried to be all of these moms at one time or another, but I’ve failed pretty epically every single time. It’s okay though. I’ll let you in on a little secret: Super Moms don’t really exist. A Super Mom is only “super” on the surface. Beneath the façade of awesomeness is a regular mom, like you and me, who is just as flawed as everyone else. It’s great to be inspired by her, but try not to be too envious. Super Jealous Mom is not a Super Mom at all. Now excuse me while I go attempt to practice what I preach.

Why Having “Only” One Kid Is Harder Than It Seems

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Recently a very sweet reader commented to me that she only has one kid, but can still really enjoy all the stuff I write about on my blog. ONLY one kid, she said.

My kids are about three years apart, so I had “only” one kid for a while myself, and let me tell you, having one kid is not necessarily easier than having two. It’s probably not even much easier than having a whole litter of ‘em, actually.

Now that I have two kids, a nice chunk of my day is admittedly spent prying my children off of one another, mediating arguments prompted by such pressing matters as whether it’s time to watch Princess Sofia or Scooby Doo and who gets to eat the last package of fruit snacks. But I have to say, in between those annoying moments of fighting, my home is constantly filled with the joyful sounds of children playing together. Frequent fits of giggles and shrieks of laughter, freckled by mischievous moments of quiet scheming, then followed by even more explosive laughter– these are the sweet, sweet sounds of siblings getting along. And to me, they’re some of the most beautiful sounds you will ever hear.

I think that if you could bottle the blissful sound of children’s laughter, it might just cure every illness under the sun.

Just to clarify, I’m not implying that having one child will leave you with a dull, laughter-less home. Not at all. Every kid is hilarious in his or her own little way. But we do tip the laughter scale around here a lot more than we used to before my daughter came along.

Particularly for a new parent, caring for “only” one child can be one of the loneliest feelings in the world.  In fact, I was extremely depressed for most of the three years I spent as a mother of one child. The door would close in the morning as my husband headed off to work, and the seemingly endless hours of loneliness would begin. I’d look down at my little guy, and he’d look up at me, his eyes as big as his expectations for the day, and I knew that keeping him content for those long hours was all on me.

It’s a pretty big job, and not an easy one.

Fact: there is really only so much coloring, finger-painting, and shape-sorting you can do before you start to lose your ever-loving mind.

Some moms like to fill their toddler’s schedules with exciting play dates and Gymboree classes. And that’s great. But what about parents who, like I was, are new to their neighborhood and don’t have a ton of mommy friends with whom to set up playdates? And the Gymboree classes? Um, have you seen the pricetag on these freaking classes? I can roll a big ball around and sing The Wheels on the Bus to my kid at home for free, thankyouverymuch.

Another problem I had when my son was an only child was the sharing thing. At home, all of his precious toys were his and his alone. Without the frequent wails of “but it’s MY turn!” from a jealous sibling, sharing was a foreign concept to my little guy. So you can imagine that play dates were a BLAST back then. I’ve always found it an awkward situation when your kid has engaged in a knock-down, drag-out, tug-of-war match with another kid over some shitty toy, and the parents need to step in and encourage the angry toddlers to “take turns” with said shitty toy. Either no one listens and the match rages on until the toy is removed and both children are sulking, or the other kid hands it over and your kid ends up looking like the jerk. Nope, my kid was never the one to hand it over. Not back then, anyway.

So moms of “only” one child, do yourselves a favor and give a little (or a LOT) of credit where it’s due. Raising kids is tricky business, no matter how many you have.  Every type of parenting comes with its own set of challenges- one kid, two kids, ten kids, twins, triplets, whatever.  The bottom line is that you are raising a living, breathing, human being who is depending on YOU to keep him or her thriving and well, 24/7. It’s a big damn responsibility. And I think that, even for those parents raising a whole boatload of kids, we’re all just figuring out this parenting thing as we go.

Although for the record, I do NOT want a whole boatload of kids.

15 Things That Happen When Your Child is Obsessed With Dinosaurs

If you have a kid who’s really into dinosaurs, you know that just saying they “like” them is not merely enough. My son, for example, was completely and totally obsessed with dinosaurs for at least three years of his life. I think it started the very moment he laid his tiny toddler eyes on his very first T-Rex. It must have been love at first sight. And from then on, it was all he would ever talk about and think about. We had all the books, toys, stuffed animals, movies, TV shows, clothes, EVERYTHING. It was just dinosaurs, dinosaurs, dinosaurs for his entire toddlerhood and beyond.

Now that he’s a big boy of six whole years, he’s moved on quite a bit. Video game characters seem to be all the rage these days, but I know his prehistoric pals will always have a special place in his heart. And, holy crap,  I can’t even believe what I’m about to say, but I actually kind of miss those dinosaur days. He drove me a little insane sometimes with the whole obsession, but looking back, it was pretty damn adorable.

If your little T-Rex head is, or was, anything like mine used to be, then you’ll relate to most (if not all) of these things:

  1. You’ve learned that there is no such thing as a brontosaurus, and apparently there never was. Yup, your science teacher was dead wrong. Nowadays it’s all about the brachiosaurus.
  2. You notice that Dino Dan is clearly on some very powerful hallucinogens, but we’re supposed to just accept it and watch the show anyway, no questions asked
  3. Your visit to the Museum of Natural History starts on the fourth floor, where all the cool dinosaur bones are. Don’t kid yourselves into thinking you came to see anything else (except maybe the giant blue whale- he’s pretty damn cool).
  4. You are way better at correctly pronouncing loooooong dinosaur names than you ever thought, thanks to the little lesson in phonetics under each name. At this point, there is nothing you can’t properly sound out. Micropachycephalosaurus? Epidexipteryx? Xinjiangovenator? Bring it on.
  5. You can never have too many dinosaur encyclopedias. And no, there is no limit to how many pages you’ll be asked to read every night.
  6. Shopping for kids clothes in a store with not even a single dinosaur tee shirt in sight is a complete waste of time.
  7. You will happily pay an inexcusable amount of money for any article of clothing with a really cool-looking T-Rex on it.
  8. Three years old is not at all too young to watch Jurassic Park for the first time.
  9. Barney does NOT count as a dinosaur. Never has, never will. Thank you, lord.
  10. There is no storage bin spacious enough for your child’s vast toy dinosaur collection. And every time you attempt to close the lid, there’s at least one tail sticking out somewhere preventing you from doing so. Better luck next time.
  11. People like to say it’s just a “childhood phase”, which you find hilarious. What kind of “phase” lasts at least THREE YEARS?? We prefer the term “healthy obsession”.
  12. Your child learned the difference between a carnivore and an herbivore before he knew his ABC’s.
  13. You saved money on Halloween costumes, because he (or she!) just wants to be T-Rex every year.
  14. Playing “pretend” has taken on a whole new meaning in your house; there are days that your child won’t answer to anything but “T-Rex”, and you occasionally have to explain to random strangers why your child is roaring very loudly at them for no reason.
  15. You wonder if the dinosaur obsession might continue beyond childhood, and your little one will might even someday choose a career in paleontology. And then you can’t help but think of Ross from Friends.
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So. Much. Roaring.

 

You Know it’s the First Day of School When…

blogSo it would have been nice if I’d posted this on the actual first day of school (which was Thursday here in NYC), but like many of you, I drank a little too much celebratory wine that day and was in no position for organized thought. The memory is still quite fresh, though, so read on for some classic first day of school occurrences.

1. Every other post in your Facebook newsfeed is a picture of a kid sporting a new book bag and a forced smile.

2. Staples looks like Toys R Us on Christmas Eve.

3. Your teacher friends are all on suicide watch.

4. You made the face in the above picture trying to locate everything on your child’s supply list.

5. The line in the haircut place was even worse than Staples.

6. You lost your toddler at least once amidst the chaos of first day dismissal.

7. You managed to avoid hitting too many red lights, but you still got stuck behind at least two school buses.

8. So. Much. Contact. Paper.

9. You’ve mentally prepared a list of all the parents you hope to avoid running into (and inevitably end up seeing them all). Side note: I just gave myself an idea for a future blog 😉

10. You forgot to set your alarm and almost missed morning drop off.

–or–

You pressed snooze so many times you almost missed morning drop off.

–or–

You missed morning drop off.

11. You’ve made a long list of things to do when the kids leave for school, but instead you spend the morning drinking coffee, watching TV, and liking everyone’s first day pics on Facebook.

12. You have so many permission slips to sign that you stop reading them after a while and just start signing. You’re not sure, but you might have just accidentally nominated yourself for PTA president.

13. You haven’t heard the words “common core” in over two months (but that will change very soon).

14. You spent a small fortune on brand new fall clothes for school and you’re dying to see how great the kids look in them. Too bad it’s 85 degrees and humid.

15. Your daughter tells you her best friend isn’t in her class, and it’s a straight up crisis.

16.  Your eyes sort of watered a bit when you dropped off your youngest, but you’re not entirely sure if they were tears of sadness or tears of joy.  Probably both.

Eight Ways Life Improves After Having Kids

I was watching some Seth Rogan movie with my husband the other day when I got the idea for this blog post.  Honestly, I can’t recall the name of the film, but it was one of those movies where he plays the typical role of the endearing idiot, and by the end he’s become Zany Dad of the Year or something.

There was an underlying theme in this movie that revolved around your social life going straight to hell after you have kids.  There was a scene in which the husband and wife were discussing this point with one another, and my husband and I were bobbing our heads in agreement, all “heck yea, we have NO life” during the entire scene.

But instead of detailing every reason under the sun that life blows after kids come along, I’ve decided to go the opposite route and cheer myself up with some of life’s biggest improvements once you take the old parenting plunge. Because I’m all about optimism, folks.

Ha! I’m a hoot. I really just thought it might make for better reading material.

1. You have a built-in excuse to get out of things – If you have kids and have never once used them as an excuse to get out of going somewhere or doing something, then you need to go see where you can apply for sainthood. Because EVERYONE uses their kids as an excuse once in a while. Don’t feel like attending Great Uncle Milford’s 95th Birthday party? How convenient that your son seems to have suddenly come down with a 102-degree fever. Woke up with a case of the Mondays? Your boss will understand that the rash your daughter just developed overnight needs some serious immediate medical attention. You see where I’m going with this? Just don’t abuse the power, or people will start thinking your kids have some kind of undiagnosed autoimmune disease and begin unleashing all kinds of unwanted health advice upon you.

2. Oh, the cuteness – Kids are unbearably cute (especially your own).  Seriously, your kid can pretty much hiccup a certain way and you’ll think it was the most adorable thing you’ve seen since that viral video of the baby panda sneezing. Sometimes you’ll just take one look at those kids and want to squeeze the crap out of their tiny little delectable faces, until their cheeks are all mushed up and their noses are all squishy and they can’t even see you through their eye slits, and then you want to squeeze a little more.  My kids have been known to cause a condition I like to call cuteness overload, and I love every sickeningly adorable minute of it. I’m sure you know the feeling well.

3. Less hangovers – Before kids, I was always plagued by terrible hangovers.  Maybe I was a lightweight, maybe I didn’t know my limit, or maybe it just never really mattered how crappy I felt in the morning when there wasn’t a little person nearby depending on me to keep them alive for another day. But hangovers after you have kids? Are nothing less than a form of actual torture. So most parents avoid the horrors of hangovers by not pounding tequila shots every time they hire a babysitter.  I usually like to thank myself in the morning.

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4. You literally MADE a person – I don’t know about you, but I continue to be astounded by this fact on a regular basis. I mean, I’ve made a lot of cool shit in my life—everything ranging from Thanksgiving dinner for 30 people to this awesome little website you’re currently perusing—but nothing, NOTHING, compares to singlehandedly (well, I had some very minor help) creating an actual human life form. TWICE. How fucking amazing is that?

5. Halloween candy galore – If your kids consumed all of the Halloween candy they received on their trick-or-treat route every year, they’d eventually become walking advertisements for childhood diabetes medication. So they need a little help with their sugary stash, and that’s where you come in. Sure, I could sit here, all pretentious, and act like a never-ending supply of Blow Pops, Kit Kats and Twix is actually a very bad, very dangerous thing, but who are we kidding? Admit it, November 1st is inevitably the most gluttonous day of the year for parents– and oh, how sweet it is.

6. Kids are hilarious – I can’t keep count of how many times in a day my kids crack me up.  As I’m typing this I’m chuckling because my daughter is walking around wearing nothing but a pair of ballerina slippers on her feet and a pair of underwear on her head. Yesterday my son said to me “when me and Little D start school next week, you’re gonna do the happy dance, right?” (kid, you have NO idea). I was dying. You also tend to find humor in some of the things that come out of your own mouth.  “Take your finger out of your butt!”, “stop putting mushrooms in the Brita pitcher”, and “rub mommy’s back and you can have cookies” are some of my own personal favorites.

7. It’s a good excuse for a messy house – I shouldn’t really say it’s an “excuse” for a messy house. More like it’s impossible to keep a neat home with children in it, so you can just go ahead and give up trying. I can’t count how many times I’ve gotten that little itch to start cleaning shit, then broke my back scrubbing down every square inch of my house until it was sparkling like the top of Mr. Clean’s head, only to find myself standing in the middle of what appears to be the aftermath of a small tornado less than 24 hours later. I’ve since made a solemn vow to myself and my sanity to never go all June Cleaver up in here again. I suggest you do the same. 

8. They can go get stuff– Those of you with kids who are still too young to do this don’t yet understand how frickin cool it is.  I’ll never forget the first time I encountered the sheer awesomeness of “go get mommy the remote” and watched as my two-year-old nephew toddled over to the TV stand to retrieve the remote for my sister. I know this makes me sound like the laziest person in the world, but once your kid starts bringing you stuff, you’ll be just as amazed as I am. I mean, we do enough for them. They’re merely returning the favor.