I'm still not convinced yet that kids are super expensive, but I only have a 2-year-old, so please, tell me to shut it. However, I have noticed that I need an inordinate supply of certain inexpensive things since becoming a parent, things it seems impossible to live without. I'm not talking about baby gear, but rather, life-coping gear. We could probably get by without these things if this were a reality TV show and we liked suffering, but please, we are simple folk who humbly ask that you allow us our minor indulgences.
Ibuprofen: It took me three decades on earth to learn when to take ibuprofen vs. when to take acetaminophen, and it turns out, creaky, sore old parenting muscles need ibuprofen like a mofo. I've taken more ibuprofen in the last two years since giving birth than I've taken in my entire life combined, because it seems to always ease what ails me, whether that's being really sore, really tired, really grouchy, really irritable, or really bitchy, and it especially works if all those things are really just the same one thing. Which they are.
TV: I have always loved movies but I really hate television. I'm not a kill-your-television freak, I just think all the shows are pretty bad, a few notable exceptions noted, and the commercials make me queasy. Turns out television is great, so many of the shows are actually really well written, the commercials are just conveniently letting me know about stuff I could totally use. Thank my baby, Nielsen!
Netflix: I like to think of it as TV without the shame spiral. I used to sometimes remember to order a movie on the 'flix and send it back within six months, but now a day doesn't go by that we don't cue up the queue to get through a half hour here or there with a well-timed Cat in the Hat. I am pretty sure once when I was in my 20s I said something like, "If I ever had a kid I wouldn't let it watch cartoons till it was like, 4." Hahahahahahahahahahahahhaha. That was a good one.
IHOP: One thing I never noticed before I was pregnant was how many restaurants are so quiet you could hear a baby pin drop. We tried to eat breakfast out at the same cool French bistros we'd loved before, but one too many abandoned $36 wild mushroom omelets later, and we realized our bestest friend ever was IHOP, where the food is cheap, the coffee blowz, the clanging never stops, but everyone is legally obligated to act like your kid is cute. Plus, they give away crayons! To anyone who asks for them! Please, let's all help this place stay in business. Do it for the kids, and for the overpriced French bistros.
Stupid Family Car: Face the facts. Instead of the vintage Karmann Ghia you were picturing yourself in, you now have to have a car that, as my husband likes to put it, "Starts up everyday like it's got a hard-on to do it." That boner for reliability is our Honda Accord. Not only does it ease Mama's achy ibuprofen-riddled bones, but it does so quietly enough to put a baby to sleep. More importantly, it can handle Los Angeles freeways for the time it takes to get that baby to sleep, whereas after five to seven minutes, my more economical, fun car is the equivalent of riding a skateboard on the 405. Choose wisely! It's this or a fucking van, people.
Coffee: Sure, you've always needed coffee because your 20s were nothing but on-the-go excitement. But now you need twice the coffee for half the effect, because otherwise you look like a Fraggle who's been punched in the face and run through a carwash.
Job: Guess who's working forever? Can you say skill set?
Paper products: Paper towels, tissues, diapeys and wipeys, you'll never leave the house again without the carnage of a small forest on your person. How do we let these babies get away with all this pollution? Who do they think they are, anyway?
Galactic amount of snackies: Babies are like bunny rabbits at an art gallery opening. They demand a well-catered platter of adorable, varied snacks so they can nibble and graze while doing whimsical things of subjective merit. That time you said you would just buy a big regular version of the snack and divide it up into snack-size portions later to save money was totes hilar.
Mom uniform: Jeans, flats, plain T-shirt and hoodie, slightly greasy hair pulled back into a ponytail. Come to think of it, it's the same outfit as your typical generic mugger on TV, also what that chick always wears in the douche commercials for when she's having that "not so fresh" feeling.
Humility: "More applesauce!" it demands while watching cartoons, so you haul out the vat and spoon it into the beast's mouth directly, take your lashings, then stagger back to the servant's quarters to wait for the bell to be rung again. Thirty seconds pass. "More Gato Hat!" it cries. At least the Spanish immersion is working. "MORE GATO HAT!" Sigh. Good thing you took your ibuprofen and paid that Netflix subscription.
Tracy Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles. She knows too much ibuprofen will annihilate your stomach, and would never allow that — that's what the coffee is for.