Look, you're not ready to have a baby. Hey-O! Yup. You're probably in your late twenties or early thirties, and you've gotten some shit figured out, and now you're pretty sure you're "almost ready" to have a baby. But a baby is the ultimate, cosmic limit-tester of all ultimate cosmic limits, and no matter what you do to prepare, you will still find yourself thrown for a loop. (Also, experiencing that loop and being able to lord it over others is one of the few best senses of entitlement you'll probably ever get in this lifetime, and I finally now understand why all other parents did this to me, too. Bastards.) But, hey. At least I want to explain it to you.
Ready!? Pshaw! Anyone who thinks they are actually ready to stare this beast directly in the eyes isn't wearing her cervical thinkin' cap. It's like, can you be "ready" for a cyclone? Can you be "ready" for the moon? Can you be "ready" for a dinosaur eating a cupcake? It's not like being bisexual in college, where you can get it all out of your system before you actually have to pick a side.
I know, you have a good job and a willing partner, or no partner but that's how you want it, and you love babies and you know babies and you even have a baby bucket list, where you actually are going to do a bunch of stuff like leasing a convertible or buying a white couch, or hanging out with your hot ex-boyfriend before you go marry your best friend, so that you can finally grow up and do this right. Wrong wrong WRONG! You are so cute! But you are so wrong. I get it:
You think you're ready because you have a good job.
Jobby goes bye-bye faster than a marble down the gullet of an 8-month-old.
You have a willing partner.
You LOVE babies.
As a wise person with a baby recently pointed out to me, "Some people are great with babies but not so great with toddlers, or great with toddlers and not so great with teenagers." Just let it marinate.
You have a dog.
Ugh, sorry, but no. If you want your dog to help prepare you for an actual human baby, it only works if you have the worst dog in the universe. It has to be, like, only trainable on Thursdays and it must never eat the first three types of food you offer it. Doesn't sound like any dogs I know! (No, I am not saying a human baby is like an awful dog, I'm saying babies are neither compliant nor necessarily easy to feed.)
You're working through a Baby Bucket List.
Cool idea! But doing a bunch of fun stuff now will just make you want to do more fun stuff later. The not-so-distant memories of Cabo or a couple of hickeys from the Amnesiac Tour of Vegas will not soothe you through a year of sleepless nights, potty training or your first real poopie diaper.
If you want to get ready for a baby, take my advice, and do the opposite of fun stuff. I'm not saying babies aren't fun — they are a scientifically proven lovable barrel of monkeys, worth hanging up your Saturday night handjob gig for — but it's not the kind of fun for which you need any practice.
In fact, if I were selling my own Baby Squad™ Fitness Program for Actual Baby Readiness, it would not involve tickets to Europe, but would come with the following drills/regimen for the entire year prior to conception. (Yes, conception! Yes, a year! Not doing anything fun while already pregnant is not actually all that hard and therefore not true readiness training.):
- Practice wrestling a large, slippery fish three times a week.
- Wake up every two hours at night, punch yourself in the face, walk around for 28 minutes pleading in jibberish. Go back to "sleep." Repeat.
- Socialize with friends in 18-second increments.
- Practice asking for the check, boxing up your food and exiting a restaurant in under sixty seconds — two bites into the meal.
- Watch 38% of any film or television show; never see the ending or resolution.
- Read the same three paragraphs of a novel once every two weeks; fall asleep.
- Shower every three to five days, but only for two minutes.
- Hire a makeup artist to make you up to look 10 years older. Look at yourself in the mirror, then laugh, cry, laugh, cry, laugh, cry. Do not go get a drink.
- Pack two additional bags of random stuff to carry with you every time you leave the house.
- Stand around a tennis court and catch fly balls with one hand for two hours a day while also preparing a peanut butter sandwich.
- Practice wrestling aforementioned large, slippery fish, then dress it in seasonally appropriate outfit, including hat and/or jacket. Then go back, remove all clothing, and apply sunscreen. Re-dress fish.
- Memorize The Cat in the Hat, then repeat every evening between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Make 24 hours of baby-crying audio; hit play the moment you take a phone call, fire up your computer, or begin speaking any sentences to another human that contain important or useful information.
- Imagine a mental written list of your responsibilities for each day, tear it in half, burn one piece, take a (literal) shit on the other one. (Sorry.)
I guess it's no Vegas (or is it?), but this time-tested program will surely almost prepare you for the guerilla tests of strength, endurance and mental well being required for early childrearing — I make no guarantees for teenagers, or especially tweens. I repeat, no one is ever actually ready for a baby (at least not the first one). But if this program does not deaden your taste for spontaneous grown-up indulgence through tedious exposure to surprise challenges, I don't know what else will do the trick. Well, maybe Vegas would. In which case, the drink's on me.
Tracy Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is seriously mere weeks away from taking a toddler on a business trip to Vegas. Wish her luck at @iusedtobepoor.
Image by Jim Cooke