The Life Contract - AprilMartellPhotography

When I signed up for adulthood, I kind of expected something….different.

In the contract, there was nothing about how bills don’t pay themselves. There was also nothing about how dusty things get if you don’t wipe them now and then. Nowhere in the contract was there anything about how once you hit thirty, you can no longer go out with friends for a night of debauchery without needing four days to recover afterwards. Insomnia and overthinking? Not even in the fine print. I read not a single sentence about how you cannot eat what you want without back fat and your belly hanging over your pants. And speaking of pants, I don’t remember anything about how low-rise jeans are no longer an option if you partake in pizza over salad on the regular. On the cover of the contract was a beach and the promise of freedom and fun. There was a girl in a bikini in the photo. A bikini!

Then there was page two: parenting. Now THIS was misleading. In this photo was a woman at home wearing jeans and a t-shirt that fit her. Yes, jeans. IN THE COMFORT OF HER OWN HOME. This should have raised an alarm of some sort. Yet, thinking nothing of it, I signed on the dotted line. I thought, look how relaxed and well rested she looks, sipping her coffee while her toddler quietly plays on the floor at her feet. That looks like fun!

The contract you sign is kind of like the agreement to install i-Tunes. You scroll through it quickly, thinking only of finding the “I agree” box to get what you want. There are things hidden in there, I’m sure of it. Once you sign it, you cannot go back and re-read it. It’s gone. But I know there are things in there, using words you don’t understand, in sentences that mean nothing to you. Legal jargon.

Just to warn you folks that are about to sign the contract: you best read it closely. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have signed it had I read it. I just think, maybe I would have been more prepared.

Parenting is sleepless nights. Yes, you’re ready for that. But are you ready for a level of tired that you didn't know existed? Are you also ready for the myth that is the Terrible Twos? Yes, the myth. When three hits, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You will not make your own baby food. Oh, sure, you’ll attempt it. Kudos for you for trying. You will go days without showering, and think nothing of it. Your comfiest pants, an oversized t-shirt and a hoodie, will be your uniform. As soon as you get in the house, you will put on your uniform, and there you will stay until you’re forced to once again leave the comfort of your home because if you hear “mommy” one more time you might start drinking at nine a.m.

If you had any expectations of a clean bathtub, you can throw those out the window - my daughter once crafted a rainbow made out of hair on the wall of the tub. Might as well toss privacy and time alone with it as well; those don’t really exist anymore. Maybe you can exchange any of those things for a never-ending supply of dry-shampoo, because who has time to dry their hair? And on the subject of that, might as well just grab some two-in-one while you’re at it, because shampoo AND conditioner takes time, and any extra time you have in the shower will be spent trying to maneuver around various bath toys without slipping and breaking your hip.

You will re-use that towel.

Be prepared for eating the same five meals for the rest of your natural life. Or until your child decides that they WILL try two different food groups mixed in the same pan. If you’re lucky enough to have a child who isn’t a picky eater, grab on to that victory and hold it tight. If not, welcome to the club. We meet on Tuesdays from 10:35pm until 10:48pm. Bring wine.

If you’re expecting to have money in your bank account at the end of the month, you may be somewhat deflated to find that no, no you won’t. Those sports that you envision your child excelling at? Those are like, expensive. And there’s a good chance that your child will be average at their sport of choosing. Maybe even terrible. Saturday mornings won’t be spent baking chocolate chip cookies. They’ll be spent trudging to the rink with coffee in a travel mug from home, wondering how you always manage to be late. They’ll be spent in the moist area of the bleachers where you can watch your kid at the pool during swimming lessons. Dress light. 

On the subject of baking; that doesn’t work like it does in the commercials. Your kid will want to help, and they won’t get that flour in the bowl. They will sneeze into it. Oh, their aim is wonderful when it comes to coughing and sneezing into the ingredients. The pictures you see of the smiling mom with her kitchen counter dotted with flour, the kid dressed in a cute apron? Nope. Just, nope. By the end of it, you will be pissed off, and your kitchen will be a mess, and the cookies will be inedible because your kid just dumped in cream of tartar before you could measure it out. Leave the sprinkles in the cupboard. Actually, just leave them in the grocery store.

Expect to spend a lot of time at the doctor’s office in the beginning. Every sickness will induce panic. The croup will send you into a place of terror that you never thought possible. Fortunately for us, there have been no broken bones (*knocks on wood*). There have been various cuts (one that *almost * required stitches but didn't) and never-ending bruises, eczema and bouts of coughing that keep all of us up at all hours.

If you’re starting to re-think your decision to sign on that dotted line, don’t. Sign it. Because there are good things. Amazing things. The dirty dishes and mismatched socks littered throughout the house won’t matter.

We have one child. Just one little girl. The pictures you see here are not all my finest photography. They are pictures of our life.  There are days that we want to pull our hair out, and if you say you've never uttered a swear word in front of your child, I'm not sure I'll believe you. But there are moments that you remember. Like how their face lights up when they see you. Giggles. Christmases. Hugs and sloppy kisses. An overwhelming love that will have you randomly staring at your child for no other reason than that it hits you just how much you love them. Bedtime routine is hell, but you will miss them in the middle of the night. You forget life before child. When you think of it, it feels as if something is missing from your memories. If you’re fortunate enough to have a spouse who’s amazing, you will find this whole other love for them that comes from seeing the love they have for your child.

It wasn’t what I expected. It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating, and it’s so damn hard. Yet, I would make the same decision to sign that line every single time.

PS - don’t ever, ever buy glitter. Trust me on this one.

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