Parenthood is no joke. From the day they hand you your amazing blessing in the hospital you are constantly trying to figure out which end is up. Is he wearing the appropriate amount of layers? What color was his poop last time, dear? Why on God’s green earth is he still screaming at me when I have given him anything he could possibly want?

I knew absolutely everything about parenting before I was actually given the job. There was no confusion on when nap time would be or what he would wear for the day. Now naptime is whenever he deems it necessary and I’ll be lucky if I can scrounge up a clean onesie for him to dirty in the next hour. I was pretty sure I hadn’t read that what to expect book close enough because NONE of this was what I expected and I figured I had screwed him up irreversibly.

Then I stumbled upon the greatest gift any mother can have….other mothers. I was overjoyed to find that there are other women who are stumbling through motherhood as well. I had pictured all other mothers as successfully finding the proper diaper snugness that avoids those awful blowouts every time.  I was sure that other children were sleeping 8+ hours  and would wake to a seemingly professionally cleaned house with all the laundry folded crisply in the drawers.  But lo and behold there are mothers like me who, by some awful fate of the gods, end up with a mystery substance on every item of clothing they own.

So in light of this revelation, I have decided the parenting classes they give you before your child is born should add to their curriculum. There should be a portion of the class where you get a “driving with a child” lesson.  You will drive while some mystery substance is poured on your seat and someone screams at you in a foreign language for the duration of the ride. Instead of diapering a baby doll, you will learn to diaper a cat while trying to sing the national anthem. This chaos is much closer to the reality of a child than the inanimate object we so naively currently learn on.  Also, give a quiz on astrophysics in fluent Russian. Yes, the frustrated confusion is the same that you will feel when your child is screaming and you have already fed, bathed, changed and offered them your life’s savings in return for silence. You might not pass the class but you will definitely be more realistically prepared for a baby.

Until the curriculum is altered to include these crucial additions, my advice is to rely upon other mothers. Don’t assume everyone but you has breezed through these years unfazed. Other mothers have stories of the battles that they have faced and will most likely be willing to commiserate with you. Motherhood is a badge of honor and we all have our war stories. I have yet to fight the battle of the toddler years but the soldiers who have gone before me tell me their tales and no matter what they have faced, it is the proudest duty they have ever done.