I seriously don’t want to alienate half of the reading audience here. You’ve got to be careful when writing about parenthood because, y’know, half the audience couldn’t care less; and I understand that. I’ve pretty much no time for other parents. I honest to Jaysus just don’t care about your children, I barely care about you, or even myself. Why would I give a toss about the bawling, moany, snotty-nosed intellectual-void that is your offspring?
Originally published, April 2017: here
Here’s a secret that while most parents will reveal to their best friends they’d never dare to confess publicly; every parent, well, sane parent, regrets having children. It’s a bit like choosing which friend to tell you took heroin once and you loved it so much you promised to never, ever do it again. Unless it was with David Bowie and Lou Reed, but they’re both dead as disco now so that promise doesn’t matter. Life is just so much easier when you’re not responsible for the survival of a whole other human.
I love my young lad, he’s deadly. He’s only 18 months old but he’s already figured out that his auld pair are big into comedy so there’s nothing he likes more than making us laugh. He’s simply good craic to be around and I’ll do anything within my power to make this god-awful hellhole of a planet better for him to grow up in. But I’m failing miserably on that. We all are. Louis CK (this was written before we knew about Louis’ degenerative tendencies) put it best when he said ‘I love this kid so much that it’s changed my whole life. She has completely given value to life that didn’t exist before. And I regret every decision that led to her birth.’
Childless people think that the worst thing about parenthood must be the nappies and stuff like that and it’s not true, nappies are a doddle. Feeding every three hours at the beginning is a pure ballache. Unless the mother is breastfeeding then it’s only terrible for the her. Cracked, sore and leaky nipples. I’ve been there, I had a nipple reject a piercing once.
But even the teething is OK because it’s temporary, a night or two of little sleep, the high temperatures and sickness can be dealt with at your doctor or chemist or witch doctor, shaman, whatever. Even the occasional tantrums that embarrass you both in public when Mammy breaks down in a tsunami of tears in the supermarket from time to time. They can all be dealt with. Be logical, patient and caring. Children are easy, they either need food, a change or a cuddle, that’s pretty much it. The single worst thing about parenting though, is other parents. They’re assholes.
The odd time you’ll have had a rough night because your kid is teething or had a temperature or didn’t like the way his Winnie the Pooh bear looked at him over breakfast and you’re tried and, y’know, you just want some empathy from somebody so you tell a trusted friend about your night in the vain hope that they’ll be a shoulder to cry on and be a sympathetic ear. But no, all they can fucking say is ‘Oh yes, I remember when my X was teething and it was wonderful, no pain, tiny unicorns farting butterflies caressing ladybirds fell from her month like manna.’
Ya see the thing is other parents are so unhappy in their lives and everything has become so utterly and wholly devoid of meaning that they turn their futile lives into competitions about who can parent the best. Go look at Instagram. My Instagram experience is banjaxed now because I follow women who are parents that I can’t unfollow because I know them in real life. At least on Facebook I can unfollow them and be friends still without seeing their shit. Instagram doesn’t let you do that. Just go now and gaze upon the wonders of the #SuperMoms #MomsofInstagram hashtags. We call them Matka Polkas here in Poland, it means Mother Poland. Oh, look a photo of you getting them ready for school, putting their shoes on. A truly joyous moment in parenthood, never to be forgotten. While out of shot Daddy is putting out a fire that the second-born started and ran away from. Here’s another one, you’re all baking together. Holy shit! Parenting is so, so rewarding. Out of frame the cat is covered in pastry and Granny is a crying wreck, lying on the floor covered in egg yokes and half a kilo of sprinkles and is back smoking Major cigarettes thanks to the experience.
Last week it got up to 17C here, it was grand. As an Irishman that’s #bagofcans weather. So I went off to collect the wee man from kindergarten or whatever it’s called here and there was a yummy mummy beating the shite out of her wee girl squeezing her into a winter onesie and a coat made to withstand Polish winters of -17C, not +17. Mammy was wearing a mini skirt and a t-shirt. Jesus wept from his watchful place above the entrance door.
Another thing other parents do is try to give advice. The young lad is lactose intolerant. So was I. Kids usually grow out of it. So, it comes up in conversation from time to time with other parents. By god, the favourite words of other parents are ‘you should…’. You should go to X shop and buy X milk because Dr. Y on the Good Parenting Channel said that it……’ Yea, I know, the doctor gave us a prescription. They honestly think you’re dumb. Like, I’m going to say ‘Ah shit really? Coz, I’ve just being horsing cheese and milk into him anyway. I’ve actually been heating up a mix of Wexford Cheddar, English Stilton and genuine Italian Mozzarella mixing it in with his water because I thought I could trick his non-existent lactose enzymes into doing whatever the fuck they do with dairy in his gut.
If you’re thinking of having kids, do. Kids are amazing, they’re mighty craic. Avoid other parents, they a pain in the hoop.
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