Trying to explain to my single friends what it's like having kids is like thinking a pamphlet is going to prepare you for the sheer invasiveness of a colonoscopy. No matter how many times you read the words 'microscopic camera' and 'colon tract', it's not really going to sink in as to what's happening until the doctor tells you to relax and proceeds to do to you what only Turkish prison guards should be allowed to.
But I'm determined to try anyway because 1) I'm tired of the dead-eyed expressions when I try to describe to my friends why my iPhone is covered in Elmer's glue and glitter and 2) to warn them what their blissfully uninterrupted and guilt-free sex romps can lead to.
I've put my description of child-rearing into terms I know they will understand--drunkenness and it's many stages.
1. 20–79 mg/dL - Impaired coordination and euphoria
This is the first stage of drinking. You're at a bar with a few friends and you've had a couple of drinks. The night is young and there's a really hot blonde at the end of the bar who has glanced your way a few times. You're young, unattached, and riding on the high that only limitless possibility can provide. And Miller Lite.
This is the newborn phase. You've just brought the baby home from the hospital. You feel so connected to your wife and are hopelessly in love with the tiny, helpless creature in your arms in a way that you never thought was possible. It's like your heart has grown three sizes. The world seems exciting and the future is bright and shining. The baby spends most of its time sleeping and cooing. When you do take the little guy out in public, people flock to you and fawn over the little guy. Why did you ever wait this long to have a baby?
2. 80–199 mg/dL - Poor judgement, labile mood
You're on your fifth drink of the evening. The music is too loud and you don't like the way the bartender is flirting with that blonde because clearly you saw her first. But then your buddy Tom has lit the wrong end of his cigarette and you can't stop laughing. You're indestructible.
The tiny baby who slept all the time is six months old and doesn't sleep at all. You feel dizzy and have a headache all the time. Last night you and your wife got into a fight over sea shells but you can't remember why. But your older friends with kids tell you this is just a phase. You'll get past this. And you know what, when you do see the little guy sleeping, you forget all the anger. He is the most beautiful thing in the world. If only you could get a little sleep.
3. 200–299 mg/dL - Marked ataxia, slurred speech, poor judgement, labile mood, nausea and vomiting
You're in the bathroom puking. The last shot of Jagermeister was a bad idea. So was trying to light your breath on fire. Most of your eyebrows are gone. But that didn't stop you from telling the blonde that she looked hotter from further away, but you'd still be willing to nail her. When you get back to your table, Chumpa Wumba is playing. You take this as a sign to order another round of shots and sing at the top of your lungs.
The baby is walking. And talking. You're participating in playgroups with other parents and, as a result, bringing home every disease known to man. You spend your time getting peed on and cleaning up your puke and your baby's. You order the entire safety section of the Babies R Us catalog and begin turning your house into a fortress. You can't remember the last time you showered or had sex. The last time you tried to masturbate, you fell asleep.
4. 300–399 mg/dL -Anesthesia, memory lapse, labile mood
You're lying on the floor of a bathroom. It's not your bathroom because you certainly would not have bought pink Star Trek towels. You get up. Your eye is swollen shut and you have a fat lip. There's blood on your shirt and you're not wearing any pants or underwear. A woman enters. She has blonde hair and weighs 400 pounds. She asks if you're ready to go again. You ask her if she has any alcohol.
The baby is no longer a baby. He's five years old and in kindergarten. Your wife has put on 30 pounds and hasn't bought make-up since the little miracle was born. But you're not one to criticize. You're balder than the tires on your 10 year old car and, speaking of tires, nice gut fat boy. Still, you both cry the day your bundle of joy leaves on the bus for the first time. At dinner, you wonder aloud if you should have another.
5. 400+ mg/dL - Respiratory failure, coma
You vaguely begin to wonder what happened to all your friends. But after three more beers, you're ready to get back on the horse. Or rather, the horse is ready to get back on you. You feel nauseous, but the only thing that's coming up is your own stomach lining. Somewhere in the middle of the blonde's aerobatic routine, you feel a tightness in your chest. You think might love this girl.
You realize you haven't seen your old friends in over a year. The baby is crying upstairs even though it's naptime and your oldest is screaming because you told him to turn off the TV and do your homework. You wish you were still single so you could go out for a little while, maybe have a beer or two. You begin to do the math of when the kids turn 18 and leave for college. It's a long, long way away and on top of that, how the hell are you going to afford that anyway? You start calculating the years to retirement instead and, when that does nothing to cheer you up, the average life expectancy of an adult male. Your wife tells you that it's a shame that the extra bedroom is going to waste, that maybe having a third wouldn't be so bad. You smile. They are cute when they're small and, plus, you haven't had sex in a really, really long time.