The following was originally published in “The Good Life Men’s Magazine”
I’m as indifferent as it gets towards Jeff Foxworthy, except on one account: the guy has managed to turn a single joke into a multi-million dollar, decades-long career. I’m not here to disparage anyone who likes his particular brand of comedy, but I am here to shamelessly rip him off with my own take on his now classic routine.
Over the past three-and-a-half years of parenthood, Macklin’s mama and I have been casually taking notes on the multitude of lifestyle changes taking place one might otherwise miss if one weren’t paying attention. It’s easy to mark the bigger impacts of parenthood like lack of sleep, the emergence of grey hairs in your beard or the total and absolute loss of privacy. But every parent is well acquainted with that list.
Today I offer a more subtle roundup of the amusing tweaks to your life as a parent. Scanning our list prior to writing this column, I came to an embarrassing realization: we may, in fact, be rednecks ourselves, overly concerned with snackfoods. You’ll see…
You might be a parent when… you have to keep the subtitles on while watching TV because you need to keep the volume at near imperceptible levels in order not to wake the sleeping child in the adjacent room. But it’s not so much the child, it’s the fact that you’re eating all the chips and junk food you can now only break out after said child goes to sleep.
You might be a parent when… your candy stash suddenly becomes the potty treat stash. As soon as your kid knows where you’ve been hiding the treats, it’s game over. Those treats are now their reward, and while they can’t remember what you were just talking about five seconds ago, their recall when it comes to how many M&Ms were in the jar is bafflingly Rainman-esque.
You might be a parent when…you have enough random snacks on your person to feed an entire work meeting when the vending machine breaks. Snacks in your purse. Snacks in your car. Snacks in your backpack. Most any meltdown can be averted with the right snack at the right time. One stick of minty gum alone has been known to save an entire road trip.
You might be a parent when… you’re no longer annoyed by your parents’ inability to work their original model DVD player. Instead, you’re legitimately concerned that they won’t remember how to operate their grandchild’s car seat and you’ll come home to your 3-year-old watching cartoons in the garage still strapped in.
You might be a parent when… things like “Peppa Pig Live” at the civic center seem like a great way to spend a Friday night. In reality, it’s a nightclub for toddlers complete with an hysterical crying girl in the bathroom cleaning vomit off her shirt, loud music blaring overhead and a $20 cover charge for a wrist band (or, in this case, a plastic light-up wand).
You might be a parent when… you find yourself in a reverse hostage negotiation, trying to talk your way IN instead of out. “Think of how your friends are going to feel today if they have to go down the slides without you… you don’t want to let them down, do you? Come on, let’s at least go in and see what’s for breakfast.”
You might be a parent when… poop becomes an acceptable talking point at the dinner table. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve got company, you cannot pass up the mind game opportunity to reinforce how fun it is to poop in the potty compared to your pants.
You might be a parent when… “Costco” becomes date night. Next time you’re at the big box store, pay attention… that couple that’s got an empty cart slowly meandering through every single aisle as if the outside world has ceased to exist? They’re parents who’ve successfully lined up a trustworthy sitter.
Sure, you give up the identify you’ve built up over the years, along with any credentials you may have earned, the moment you become a parent, but you’re now “Mom” or “Dad”… and no other title comes with so many rewards (or as many snacks).