When you become a parent there are a lot of unexpected highs and lows. From discovering the extent of pain you experience when stepping on Lego to cleaning up what you thought was peanut butter (when in fact it was poo) from the carpet, there are some things you didn't expect to discover after becoming a parent.
While you may have anticipated a few things before your little one came into the world and changed your life you could probably write a book about the unexpected realisations of parenting.
If you're not yet familiar with some of the following examples of parenting prepare to expect them at one point or another:
Friends? What are those?
Even if you're the type of person who's always had long-lasting and meaningful friendships things have probably changed now that your focus has shifted. Friends without children can seem quite unforgiving when you need to change your plans with them or turn down a dinner invite because your little one is sick or because you desperately need an early night.
How far poo can travel (up a baby's back)
Sometimes you delay changing a stinky nappy, maybe because you've just put the pasta on to boil or you're busy with an important phone call. It's quite something when/if you leave your baby's nappy for change long enough to discover that somehow their poo has managed to make its way all the way up their back. Five nappy bags and two packs of wet wipes later you promise yourself to never let it happen again.
Going to the bathroom alone is a luxury
Reclaiming the bathroom when you have kids is a struggle of its own. Gone are the days of long baths on your own and time spent in front of the mirror. Even going for a quick number 1 alone is something of the past. Kids seem fascinated by their parent's bathroom breaks and when you try sneak off alone leaving your child in front of their favourite TV programme it's a matter of time before there's a knock on the bathroom door.
How valuable sleep is (or was)
Sleep deprivation is common among new parents and it can become a real problem if you're not able to figure out some sort of routine for yourself. Choosing between chores and a quick nap while your baby is asleep is a tough one, but when you're sleep deprived the longer you nap the better. If your child is older and you're in desperate need of sleep call in a family member or friend to watch over him/her while you pay off that sleep debt.
You're not as selfish as you thought you were
Being a parent is a selfless act, which you probably expected, but you didn't realise quite how selfless you really are until you had kids of your own. Given a choice between going on a luxury cruise and staying at home with your sick child most parents would choose the latter, if friends and family members didn't insist that getting away for a while is what you need.
Your mother was right
Listen to you instincts. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. These are some of the typical momisms you remember her saying to you over and over and now they make more sense than ever. Where would we be today without all those pearls of wisdom on motherhood?
Lego is the route of all evil
One cannot fathom the immensity of pain that comes with stepping on a piece of Lego. Who would've though that the most popular children's toy would cause so much trouble? Stepping on a plug is almost as painful and this might be one of those times that your child hears you shouting things you hope they'll never repeat.
The potential to feel more guilty than ever
At some point you might accidentally hurt your child or forget to pack their lunch box. You feel terrible and you can't shake the feeling of guilt when you innocently slip up and blame yourself for not concentrating hard enough. Don't be so hard on yourself, it happens to all parents and it'll probably happen more than a few times.
You never thought you'd love being at work
Once the kids are at school and you head off to work you let out a great big sigh of relief as you enjoy your own head space and uninterrupted moments of thought processes. In fact you even enjoy sitting in traffic listening to music that isn't limited to words like "wiggle" and "waggle".
How unconditional love really is
No matter how much your children test and try your patience for them nothing can stop you from loving them as much as you do. Even when your child has left you feeling completely overwhelmed with frustration and anger, maybe they dropped your phone or ruined the outfit you'd chosen for an important meeting, nothing could make you love your child any less.
What are some of your unexpected parenting lessons? Send us your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.