One of my (few remaining) hobbies is musing about the absurdities of parenthood. In college, I spent my fair share of time in Greek life and I can confidently say that being a parent is a lot like being at a frat party.
People are irrational, everything is filthy, and there are far more bodily fluids than you’d like to imagine. Here are, in no particular order, five stark similarities between parenthood and your run-of-the-mill fraternity bash:
Frat Party Characteristic #1: Nakedness
At a frat party, if you made no cups in a game of beer pong, the standard penalty was to run a naked lap. My boys need no such excuse.
Nudity happens at the most random times for no apparent reason, and I don’t even have what I would call “naked” kids” –you know, the kind who just really dislike wearing clothes. Sometimes there’s a reason provided, however suspect, “My tushy itches” “My underwear were bothering me” “I fell in the potty” (yup, that has happened here).
More often than not, the tiny humans provide no rationale.
Frat Party Characteristic #2: Potty Incidents
You expect that parenting will come with its fair share of potty-related disasters. What you don’t expect is the frequency with which these disasters occur nor the lack of warning or preparedness that accompany them.
For example, I expect that I’m going to be regularly changing blowouts from my 16 month-old or an occasional accident from my three year-old, but I had grown lazy and spoiled by my five year-old, who has been potty-trained for about three years. Nevertheless, we were caught off-guard at a local park last summer where, to keep things short and sweet, we had to dispose of some underwear in the trashcan next to the park benches.
And like I said, although an occasional accident from a three year-old is perfectly normal, I still would love it if my morning (this very morning, to be precise), didn’t start with “Mommy, can you check my underwear to see if I pooped? It feels weird in there…”
This is not unlike a frat house, where potty accidents are also commonplace–some expected (someone drinks too much and pees their pants), some completely unexplained (like discovering an unclaimed dump on the floor, with no toilet paper in sight).
Beyond true “accidents,” my children also share also the general disregard for toilet-aiming that is observed in frat houses all around the country. Sometimes it’s just a few sprinkles on the seat (those are the good times). Other times, it’s a full-on puddle on the floor surrounding the toilet or, on the more unfortunate days, an all-out aerial assault on the walls surrounding said potty (this is why we can’t have nice things!).
I’ve decided that the only way a guest in our house will be able to use a truly clean bathroom is if I clean it while said guest is actually using said bathroom (now there’s a “hospitable” image…) . Even a thorough clean five minutes before company’s arrival is insufficient to guarantee a presentable bathroom.
To give you an idea of just how common these potty accidents are in our house, the other day I was eating a chocolate cookie from Potbelly. They are super delicious, my favorite, and I deliberately eat them in secret so I don’t have to share. That one cookie will be consumed in 100 secret bites throughout the afternoon. Sometimes I find all the chocolate chips are a little too chocolatey for me and I spit a few out into a napkin. Apparently our dog got a hold of the napkin with some of the remnant chocolate smeared on it and she was shredding it happily in her bed. My three year-old’s very first comment was “Oh no! Wahoo has a poopy napkin! Yuck!” It was a while ago, but I can remember a time in my life where the first instinct upon seeing the color brown, outside of the bathroom, was not that someone had pooped. Ahhhh, memories.
Frat Party Characteristic #3: The House
Like any frat house, the residence is a mess. As the mother of three boys, I can tell you with certainty that “The Brothers” do no cleaning. Sure, they occasionally pretend to help out here and there (Look Mommy, I put my napkin in the trash), but for the most part, they are thrashing about willy-nilly, leaving havoc in their wake. No need to wait another 15 years for college — these boys are basically ready for Chi Psi now.
In college, the newest members of the fraternity got all the grunt work while the more senior members enjoyed the fruits of their labor. The lame thing is that, in Kappa Kappa Parenthood, the traditional Greek seniority system is reversed. When The Brothers are finally ready to pass out, they leave the pledges behind (that’s you, Mom and Dad) to clean up their mess.
Like the true pledges that you are, you’re overtired and overextended, so you do a half-assed job of picking up before passing out yourselves, leaving the house better than before but still relatively messy. When tomorrow’s party starts up (and it’s a party every day in frat row), the damage continues and it’s a steady decline into Animal House filth.
Frat Party Characteristic #4: Sticky Substances
This is, in many ways, related to the previous two items, but it deserves a spot all its own. Like any frat house worth its weight in salt, your house is forever covered in sticky substances of unknown origin. If you line up all three of my boys at any given time, you’re nearly guaranteed that one of them has a sticky, gross face or hand (or shirt, legs, etc. — the possibilities are endless, really).
Also not unlike a frat house, the source of the substance is often unidentifiable. How did my kids end up with a red, gel-like substance on their faces when they just got out of the tub and we own no red gels? If you can answer this, you’re a better parent than me.
Frat Party Characteristic #5: Intense emotions
Frat parties are typically full of upper-teens and early-twenties filled with a lot of booze. This combination elicits all kinds of intense feelings (I mean really, who shows a more excited form of affection for one another than two barely acquainted drunk girls who’ve just unexpectedly run into one another at a party?)
The West Family Frat Party can go from tender love and kindness to a WWE cage match in record time. No sooner can I unbutton my pants to use the bathroom (Bahahahahaha do you see what I did there? For a second I pretended I would be wearing actual pants with actual buttons rather than yoga or pajama pants. Please accompany me down this fantasy lane).
Anyway, no sooner can I unbutton my pants than I hear the death shrieks from one or more of the boys down the hall. There is intense love and affection between my kids or blood-boiling rage. There is rarely any in-between.
You are an attendee at this party too. You know when you’ve had one too many beers and you just loooooooove everyone so much or it’s just soooooooo unfair how mean everyone is being to you or you could just kick something because you’re sooooooo angry? Parenting is just like that: your emotions are heightened at all times.
I have looked at my precious babies more times than I can count and thought “I just love them so much I could die right now.” The mere sight of their sweet little cherub-faces can push me to tears of joy with no notice whatsoever. My children share this feature with Jose Cuervo.
At the same time, the depths of my exhaustion and frustration have also never been deeper. Before parenthood, I thought I knew exhaustion, but I was wrong. Back then, I was tired for a few hours or maybe even a few days, but I didn’t know what it was like to continue living through years of minimal sleep.
I was never the type to pull all-nighters. If the paper didn’t get finished at a reasonable hour, it didn’t get finished, because unless I’d had an energy drink, midnight was rolling around and my bed was beckoning. I always preferred day-drinking soirees because I could have my fun, socialize, and be happily in my bed by 10 p.m.
Now? Now, I attend all-night baby and toddler raves, night after night. I am never more than 30 seconds from passing out at any time or any place. Once again, parenthood shares this feature with Jose Cuervo.
There are many other features shared between parenthood and frat parties, but naptime is over and the Pledgemasters beckon. Perhaps there will be a sequel to this post at a later date. Anyone else care to chime in with how parenthood is like a frat party? Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments 🙂