Humor by Diane Farr

It has been well-publicized that having children will greatly increase your ability to love and empathize, as well as to feel unbridled joy. Also true: the sleeplessness, decreased standards of personal hygiene and inability to get out the door in less than 10 minutes ever again that are often joked about.

But in addition to new emotional states, there are also many jobs that you must master as a parent that are not so clearly advertised.

For instance, there is far more waitressing involved in having children than anyone ever mentioned to me. As a working actress, I was thrilled to retire my food-serving apron two decades ago. If it weren't for pride, however, I'd wear one again all the time now, as I'm constantly taking orders and serving and clearing food and drinks for the three demanding customers under 5 feet tall at my house. Whom I'm often obliged to cook for, as well.

And I don't mean that cute cooking one does for a new boyfriend or girlfriend on your first stay-at-home date. Or that lavish show of creativity I shared with friends over a Thanksgiving dinner I spent days preparing when first married.

Rather, cooking for kids is like being a short-order cook for a bipolar dictator. You can cook their absolute favorite meal, place it on their beloved princess- or racecar-printed plate and serve it with a kiss . . . and still be hollered at that they hate this food/place/you and their life. Right before they throw said food on the floor and demand something else -- NOW!

I had been vaguely aware there would be a fair amount of "refereeing" as a parent, but I didn't realize how excruciating it is to listen to small people fight over plastic animals, crumbs of food left on the floor and used stickers. It is so intense it can cause you to say idiotic things like, "Stop acting like 2-year-olds!" to a bunch of 2-year olds.

There is also the seemingly obvious job that I didn't really comprehend until after my children had already been born and photographed and announced and there was no real way of pretending they weren't mine. That is the job of being the resident nurse.

People often refer to "Dr. Mom," but I can assure you that is just flattery. Doctors command respect, or at least fear. They get to do important things like reset your bones. They also have key tools they get to use when working with children -- like straitjackets.

"Nurse Mom," on the other hand, is tasked with all the less-glamorous and highly emotional healing work. Like the almost daily pouring of Betadine, alcohol or peroxide on a scraped knee, elbow or face and the biannual new-shoe-blister -- which is both awful and thankless and perpetual after children can walk.

Or my least favorite task required of Nurse Mom: removing splinters.

I once thought that convincing a child that sticking a pin into the bottom of his foot to "tear it open just a little bit" was as close as I might ever come to facing Lucifer's wrath. But I was wrong, because during bath time this week, I found a quarter-inch splinter in a very private place on my 5-year-old son.

After immediately throwing out the wood benches in my backyard, I interrupted the self-chastising in my head to re-remind myself of that wonderful adage that people who don't have children will tell you: Splinters will just come out on their own if you leave them be. Which I have never actually seen happen. Ever.

I then did what any sane parent would do and waited for my baby sitter to show up.

When she said, "I think it will come out on its own," I burst into tears, realizing there was no passing this job off to anyone other than Nurse Mom.

"Remove the splinter when he's asleep," the more experienced baby sitter told me. When her kids were small, she found she was much better at nursing them through the really tough stuff when they were semiconscious.

So I waited until my son was asleep and then, over the next TWO HOURS, I preformed microsurgery on my first-born. Only the flashlight I clenched in my mouth kept me from screaming. And the thing that finally stopped my continuous crying, mostly out of pity for myself, was the unbelievable joy I felt after pulling a quarter-inch of wood (don't go there) from a very tender spot on my very young man.

I kept that splinter in my hand for the rest of the night. Because I had no idea that it, and parenthood, could also bring me such a feeling of victory.

Humor & Satire

Humor & Funny Stories - The Fine Print of Parenting | Humor - Diane Farr

Article: Copyright © Tribune Media Services