The Nonparent’s Essential Guide to Parenting

Over the past month or so, I’ve read several opposing declarations from women – nonparents taking aim at parents, parents firing back at nonparents, parents of one child defending their decisions to stop at one, and so on. Though I’ve been able to clearly see the points made from all sides, I thought I’d add a bit to the conversation.

What I’d like to address today are all the questions posed from nonparents to parents. You know, the fun stuff.


English: Three bottles of different nail polis...
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Oh my God! You haven’t painted your nails in two years?! Are you serious?? I couldn’t imagine!

That’s not so much a question as it is an exclamation, I know – and, let me tell you, Sally Hansen, I totally see where you’re coming from. At several points in my life, I had built a veritable arsenal of color. I changed my nail polish once a week – even touched up in between. When I tired of a particular color, I was greeted by a line of eagerly-awaiting relatives. I’ve done gel, I’ve done acrylic, I’ve even bought and placed my own decals, and I know, well, first-hand, that there’s nothing quite as depressing as two fistfuls of brittle, bare nails.

That said, my hands have been in a sink full of bottle and sippy cup parts for the better part of three years. My hands are permanently poached, and, as it turns out, my kids don’t like the taste of nail polish flecks very much. When I’m not partially submerged, I’m actually two-stepping away from my daughter, who, in her short life, has discovered the merits of doing exactly as Mommy does, namely painting her nails. When I’m not escaping from her, I’m Greco-Roman wrestling the bottles from her mighty grasp. She can do it, you see. She can do it to the table, to the floors, to her clothes, and to her stuffed animals. She can do it.

So, please pardon me if I’ve chosen to don two hands full of split, pale, unfiled claws. Because polish remover strips the finish off the furniture.


You never go out? Like, EVER? Come on! I’m sure you get out SOMETIMES. (See Also: They’re NEVER on time!)

There may come a time in your life when you are so exhausted and overwhelmed, the very thought of planning and executing any sort of rendezvous will give you chills of horror. You will flash back to a simpler time, a time when going out simply meant feeding and clothing yourself, locating your car, and driving away. You will want to cry, but you will hold in the tears, knowing you will need that energy to drag your sorry ass up to bed. And then you will understand.

For now, though, let’s just say going out feels a bit like taking three feral cats to the vet. In one carrier. Alone.  In the rain. In a car with no brakes.


Why is her house such a mess? I mean, she has SOME time to clean, doesn’t she?

Imagine someone drops three or four litters of puppies off in your living room. Okay, now clean.


Why would she let herself go after having kids? She used to be so put-together! I’d never let myself go!

The short answer: We didn’t.

The long answer: Imagine three or four litters of puppies follow you to your bathroom during your shower, entangling themselves in your blow dryer cord, chewing open your brand-new luxury brand mascara, and nudging all the faucets open with their adorable little muzzles. Now imagine the phone ringing, someone knocking at the door, and pieces of hot toast flying at you from all directions. Imagine yelling, “NO! That’s HOT. Don’t touch! Hot! No!” to the puppies over the din of the shower, the phone, and the blowdryer smacking wildly around the room. We haven’t let ourselves go – we never had a fighting chance.


What’s wrong with them? Can’t they just control their kid(s)? And why are they so dirty? Eeeuuu!

No. No, we can’t. We don’t actually enjoy going out and being completely humiliated by the fruits of our loins, but sometimes things need to get done. Truth be told, you probably caught us during hour four of an excruciatingly long day of errands. Also, I’ve had people, at different points of the same day, tell me, “Your kids are so well-behaved, I didn’t even know they were there!” and scoff loudly. You don’t know if the bananas you put in your cart are going to make them squeal with delight, or catapult them into white-hot fury. It’s a crap shoot – for you and for us.


(Above the screaming) Um, is there a better time I can call you back?

When preschool starts? How about when preschool starts?

Look, we do not intend to initiate conversation with you when we cannot hear what you’re saying. We don’t intend to annoy you by asking you to repeat yourself six times. We try, and I mean really try to understand and respond to the discussion at hand. But sometimes we can’t, and sometimes you just don’t have the patience, and the disarming jokes about birth control don’t work, and you have to wait for me to actually leave the house to wander the front yard in my pajamas in order to successfully complete our conversation. We don’t mean it. We used to have normal conversations as well, free of chaos and distraction – at home, in offices, and even in our cars. Please, please understand. We want to conduct life’s business the way that you do – we just can’t. Until preschool starts.


We never see them anymore since they had kids!

Under something. Try looking under something. And, for God’s sake, give us a hand!


Please be kind to parents.

We love you, we envy you, we WERE you, and most of us look forward to a time we can be again, if we haven’t forgotten how.

20 Comments Add yours

  1. You need to throw in the ring the non parent-travelers and the parent travelers. Actually no. They’re a class all their own.

    –And not too long ago a ‘mom blogger’ no less gave me quite the snotty reply as to how she makes SURE that she gets to the nail salon. It’s her priority. You go girl. I didn’t need the attitude so I checked her at the door.


    1. Bahaha! I could use a manicure myself.


  2. I sit here giggling with my nail polish half chipped off and my seriously neglected toenails begging for a pedi. Sigh….someday.


  3. Oh so true! I sometimes feel overwhelmed by this motherhood thing that even the simplest of activities (like taking a 5 minute shower to at least smell a little like a human being) seems daunting. And I only have one kid…who can’t even crawl yet.


  4. SFriant says:

    Love it! It is difficult to explain to a non-parent what life as a parent is…but you did it wonderfully! Thank you!!!!


  5. mateomomma says:

    Thank you! I’m only two months in & I’m already getting some of these comments. Mostly because my husband & I used to socialize a lot & it’s just not that easy to do anymore when you have a baby that is used to being feed anytime he wants (I’m breast feeding). In a cruel twist of fate this has been a very busy party time in our social group so we’ve had to decline a lot. Plus, hello, I had a baby…I’m tired! Anyway, I’m fine skipping the party season right now I just hope our friends don’t ditch us all together, but if they do, oh well, I guess they weren’t really our friends, right?


  6. From the bottom of my heart (and one who just yesterday chopped off her long healthy natural nails), I must humbly elect to refrain from making mention of the current condition of my toes and their ever present appendages, so THANK YOU for clearing things up! Although I too can fathom life without kids due to the fact that we all actually lived that way BEFORE we had kids (Wonders never cease!), you said it all and summed it up mighty well ma’am. As for phone conversations, many kudos are in order here – I really felt that, also the ‘letting ourselves go’ portion but I think that we could make the world a better place if we would simply hire personal trainers, chefs, stylists, and yes – nannies! This should surely rectify the issues that we so often bring about in an otherwise ideal society. :) I truly enjoyed this – thanks!


  7. mumtolachlan says:

    This is so true, made me cringe, made me smile, made me nod in agreement and made me chuckle all in one.
    I think I’ve worn heels and painted my nails twice in the last 2 years and that’s only because we were wedding guests (and the high heels only lasted about an hour anyway before the flats came out) lol


  8. And not to mention why don’t you drink any more? You can have a few surely?

    No. Hangover with sleep hating toddler. and baby would be suicide!


  9. Alyssa says:

    This is hilarious! I’ve been lamenting the state of my nails for days but….well… know….


  10. I remember a time when I used to paint my nails to co-ordinate with my clothes. Now my clothes aren’t even co-ordinated… Or ironed… Or clean…


  11. Karina says:

    I was never really a nail polish wearer, but I was always a make up wearer. Well, not so much anymore. It’s taken some time to get used to how I look without it, but its so much easier to not put it on. Saves me a good 5-10 minutes every day! I totally get the nail polish thing. It would be nice to be able to get polished up a couple times a week, but once you become a parent you figure out that practicality becomes a bigger priority!


  12. jadekenya says:

    I totally enjoyed this post! And completley understand. I only have one two-year old – I don’t know how you do it! Kudos to you for every day you make it out of bed and get a shower!


  13. True, all so very true! Loved it!


  14. iyaya10 says:

    Yes, I am also sitting here with chipped red toe nail polish, assuming no on will notice them… Embarrassed each time when someone and by someone, I mean at least everyone sees that I hon done anything about it… And for some reason after all the things I need to accomplish in the day, that nail polish remover looks the least enticing to me… So I keep scrunching them.


  15. oh my gosh, soo funny and so true!!


  16. The part about phone calls kills me. I have no chance of normal phone conversations any more and some days it doesn’t even seem worth it to answer the phone when I know I’ll have to ask people to repeat themselves 10 times before my 2 year old steals the phone.


  17. themominblack says:

    I have all of those problems. 1) I very rarely take my boys out in public. I’m not so worried about them embarrassing me. I’m more concerned with my public emotional breakdown embarrassing me. 2) I don’t talk on the phone. Period. 3) I still like to paint my nails but they usually have baby hairs and tiny cookie crumbs stuck to them. Meh.


  18. mommyincolor says:

    Girl, u better preach! Everything you said is true whether you have three kids or one,like I do. Love this post!


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