I’ve Heard Parenting is Amazing and Horrible and I Have No Idea Who to Believe

Broadcaster and author Dom Knight is about to become a first-time dad. And there are a few things he’s going to miss.

Parenting is amazing and horrible

I’m told there is life after having a baby, but as far as I can tell, it’s a lot like you never really get to come home from hospital.

You’re woken up all through the night, eat hastily thrown together food, and spend far too much time wrangling bodily fluids – of which an alarming amount aren’t yours.

But new parents don’t talk about the bad bits. At least, not at first …

“It’s hugely rewarding!”

With my first child due very soon, my wife and I are only weeks away from what my parent friends tell me is the hardest thing they’ve ever done.

“But it’s hugely rewarding,” they’ll hasten to add in the next sentence. “Just amazing. There’s nothing like it. You’re going to love it!”

They continue to insist, seriously underestimating how much I currently love waking up late and spending a day enjoying myself.

As consistently fun experiences go, having a kid surely rates well below owning a Playstation 4, even though both involve a lot of time stuck in your loungeroom.

Are other parents telling me lies?

One friend recently described parenthood as the most fun she’s ever had, in what I think was an attempt to be encouraging. I found myself asking serious questions about how dull her life was before her toddler arrived.

Parents of young children always speak so glowingly about the dramatic transformation that takes place when a small human starts crying, weeing and pooing a short distance from their beds.

I’ve long suspected that they were mostly trying to convince themselves.

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Are all of these wild-eyed parenthood evangelists constantly burying their regrets?

Or is it genuinely true that enabling a new life to emerge, phoenix-like, from the ashes of your own is the most rewarding thing you can do?

So how will life post-baby look?

In my last summer of idle freedom, I kept wondering how everything I did was going to work post-baby.

I spent three blissful days at the Sydney cricket test, but next year I’ll either be watching proceedings on the couch, or if I negotiate hard, dashing out for one brief session before returning home to take my turn with the nappy-changing.

Nights out with my mates will have to be put on hold for a couple of years. On the plus side, most of my buddies already have kids so they’ll understand.

Now, they savour every sweet minute of free time they have. When I can start going out again in a few years’ time I’ll be just like them.

But, I admit, there will be upsides

Despite my rakish cynicism, even I can see that there will be upsides.

There will be more visits to the beach, the neighbourhood pool, and to the park to kick a ball around or play a bit of cricket.

I even went to a LEGO show with my niece and nephew recently and spent a couple of solid hours building things out of plastic bricks. I was probably more into it than the kids.

If I’m honest, I’m mostly looking forward to the kid.

I’m in my early forties, so it’s not like I’m sacrificing a life of non-stop partying. I’ll be glad of having an extra person to hang out with on a Saturday night besides my wife.

Besides, we have a dog, so I’m no stranger to mopping up various pools of disgustingness. Really, how much worse can it be?

Give me your worst, I say!

Yes, I’m apprehensive about the sleepless nights that will come as a package deal with our little girl. Sleep deprivation is recognised as a form of torture, after all.

But I’ll think she’s utterly adorable anyway, won’t I? That’s what happens courtesy of the dormant programming that slumbers in our genes until we reproduce.

This is also probably why every parent thinks their child is the greatest in a manner which is entirely invisible to others.

I know it’s ridiculous, but then again, I think I’m ready to meet the greatest child ever.

I just hope she arrives on time, and not early.

Give me these few remaining weeks, little girl, before I give you the next 20 years. Okay?

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