Thank You, Helpful Advice Lady

If you’ve had kids and don’t live under a rock, you’ve met her. She’s the mom with the helpful advice. “Helpful” in that it helps you into the psychiatrist’s office or the liquor cabinet.

You will first meet her when you are pregnant and beginning to show.

“Oh, you look like you’re about to pop any day,” she will tell you, when you are, in fact, three and a half months pregnant and still in the throes of morning sickness.

“Get your sleep while you can — you’ll need it,” she’ll say smugly. Perhaps she got super-awesome sleep when she was pregnant, but most of us find it difficult to sleep with a beach ball full of fighting raccoons strapped to our bellies.

Then there’s the doozy she’ll come up with once the baby is finally out.

“It doesn’t get any easier.”

What? WHAT? Are you kidding me? I would take a toddler who sleeps through the night ANY DAY OF THE WEEK before I’d take a brand-new baby (even though I will happily hold your newborn all day long. Give it here!). And I think answering the infinite questions of my preschooler, sassy and obstreperous though she may be, beats cleaning toddler diarrhea off the train table, hands-down. (I did that today. Thanks for that, Thomas.) And you know what? I’m willing to bet that helpful mom probably wouldn’t trade her self-sufficient 10-year-old for my preschooler and all the bottom-wiping, toy destruction and surreptitious baby torturing that goes along with a 4-year-old.

In fact, short of teen-age girls, whose parents I imagine experience the constant dread of their getting pregnant and Mom’s having to Do It All Over Again While Incredibly Old, I’m pretty sure it does get easier. Sure, there are different problems as kids get older — criminal mischief, uncomfortable questions, the constant “You’re ruining my life” accusations — but with every year that passes, it’s less labor-intensive. I can’t imagine that parents of non-disabled teen-agers drop into bed at the end of every day saying “Wow, I don’t think I could have taken another hour of that day.”

Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps, as Future Me is frantically chasing my car-stealing teen-age boys down the street while holding my daughter’s baby under an arm, Helpful Advice Mom will pop out from around some corner with a smug expression on her face and do the “Told Ya So” dance.

But for my sanity’s sake, I am going to assume she’s wrong about kids never getting easier, just as she was wrong about getting your sleep in while you’re pregnant. (For the record, those two comfortable hours of post-baby sleep before you are awakened by frantic squalling beat 12 hours of sleeping with an abdomen full of writhing anacondas. Every time. As blog is my witness, I will never get pregnant again!)

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