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10 Ways You Will Change When You Become a Parent

My Wife and Daughter

Just about every Thursday of every week, I get together with my brother to roast coffee, drink beer and have a few laughs. We hang out his house, are accosted by his two Bassett hounds and just sorta chew the fat and hang out. We always have a good time, indeed.

But one thing I’ve recently noticed during our weekly hang-out period (as well as other social events at the homes of non-parents) is how differently I behave now that I am myself a parent. Some of them are terribly subtle, but they really shine through depending on where I am and what I’m doing. What kinds of things do I mean? Well, let’s just dive right into the list…

  1. Sensitivity to Noise – When you’re spending a good deal of time trying to get a baby to go to sleep, you’re going to make damn sure that you do everything in your power to not wake that kid up. That could mean anything from avoiding certain rooms or even parts of the house to using a totally inconvenient door just because it’s quieter than the closest one.

    Using the above anecdote involving my brother, their front door sounds like bank vault door when someone closes it. I cringe every time this happens.

  2. Keen Awareness of the Location of Potentially Dangerous Items – I swear that no matter whose house I’m in – if I see a steak knife or scissors on the edge of the counter (reachable by an imaginary child), I’ll slide them away from the edge without even thinking about it. It becomes reflexive, especially when you have a toddler.
  3. Sensitivity to Silence – This is something most people have heard of before, but it bears repeating. Anytime your kid(s) are awake and supposedly playing or something, a long period of silence might as well be a fire alarm in a movie theater. You’ll stop in the middle of flipping your fried egg and perk up your ears, listening for the kids. If you don’t hear them for 2-3 seconds, you’re suddenly tearing ass around the house/yard looking for them. Usually they turn up, thankfully, but silence can sometimes indicate bad stuff is afoot.
  4. Relative Immunity to Annoyance at Crying Babies – We’ve all been here, I’m sure. Sitting in a restaurant or an airplane and the sound of a crying baby pierces your eardrums like a hot needle. Oftentimes, this noise will continue incessantly, sometimes for hours (assuming the plane scenario). The difference is, non-parents will mutter under their breath about how “that parent needs to shut their kid the hell up” or “man, I’m never going to let my kid do that”. The parents, on the other hand, are aware of it, but know the deal and try their best to continue their life without letting it get to them. (This isn’t to say that parents aren’t occasionally annoyed by this as well – but it’s usually when the kid’s parents are pretending it isn’t happening)
  5. All of a Sudden, Everybody Driving Faster than You is a Fricking Maniac – Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the guy doing the speed limit spot on – I’ve been known to kick it up a bit when on the freeway in light/no traffic. I’m talking about the folks who fly down my street doing 35-40 MPH. Before, I’d scoff and make some comment about them compensating for something or other. Now I just get flat-out pissed and plot to call the police or something. Note: I haven’t actually called the cops yet, as I haven’t quite reached that level of “coot”.
  6. You Ride with Me, You Put on Your Damn Seatbelt – This one bugs the crap out of some of my friends. Before having kids, my seatbelt was a pretty optional thing. If I remembered, I’d put it on – but I frequently forgot or just plain didn’t feel like it. Now that I spend a good 2-5 minutes getting both of my kids strapped safely into their respective seats, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re putting yours on, too.
  7. People Walking with Strollers are to be Protected at All Costs – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out walking my kids in what we’ve dubbed our “limo stroller” (because it’s the size of a freakin’ Cadillac) and have started to cross the street in a crosswalk, only to have somebody either peel around the corner ahead of us or stop close enough to make me very uncomfortable. I’m not saying that mistakes don’t happen and sometimes you have to swerve out of the way to avoid hitting people/things, but just know that people with strollers are carrying their most prized cargo and will go absolutely bat-sh*t crazy on you if you so much as touch said cargo. Maybe that’s just me…
  8. Sleeping In? HAH! – Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but trust me – your days of staying up until 2am drinking with your buddies and then sleeping until noon the following day are over, my friend. In fact, even when I do get to sleep in (say, on my birthday or something), I can’t make myself sleep past 8:30am or so. You now have a semi-permanent alarm clock without a snooze button – and it wants something to eat :)
  9. You Pretty Much Like All Kids – Every time a friend or acquaintance has a new baby, I can’t wait to see the pictures, hear about the name choices and see the parent’s huge grin (usually sitting below very tired eyes). Now that you know what a joy it is to have children, you can easily relate to somebody who is experiencing it, too.
  10. News Stories about Missing Children Will Make You Sick – Sadly, these types of things appear on the radio and television far too frequently, but they do happen. Non-parent might think something like, “Man – that sucks. Hope they find that kid.”, and a parent (especially if they have a child close in age to the one in question) will feel a tightness in their chest and a bowling ball in their stomach at the very thought of that happening to them. (Note: this isn’t meant to call non-parents insensitive or anything, just saying that they can’t typically relate).

I’m sure some of the more veteran parents out there (I’m looking at you, Leo) can expand on this list for days. Obviously, not all of these are cheerful, happy little emotions you inherit when your kids are born, but I feel it’s a pretty accurate list. At least, it is for me.

Got any others that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

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