A few ways parenthood is actually a lot like college

This past week our family came down with a respiratory virus, well, mainly Braeburn, but the rest of us got enough of it to feel extra whiny and needy as well.  At two years old, my little boy has been sleeping through the night like a champion. Actually, since about four or five months old he’s been sleeping a good 10-12 hours every night.

So it’s pretty safe to say we’ve gotten accustomed to our shut eye in the Chubby Vegan household.

But between my own chest congestion, his and having to get up with him, our family has not received an adequate amount of Zzz’s this week. I’m telling you folks, once your baby starts sleeping through the night, those long nights you stayed up breastfeeding or rocking slowly fade away, and you convince yourself that it really wasn’t that bad, right.

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. Not getting sleep is TERRIBLE. It is that bad. It’s worse!

Needless to say, some of our daily chores may or may not have gotten pushed aside at the mere possibility of a nap, whether it be five seconds or five hours.

And so a couple mornings ago, I woke up, took one look at my living room and realized, “Wow, maybe being a mother with small children isn’t all that different from college me.”

Remember those crazy parties in college? The one’s you stayed up far too late at, passed out on a couch with 11 of your bffs and then woke up the next day surrounded by mountains of beer cans and almost-empty liquor bottles? An uneven, stale-smelling, coating of Natural Light waxed your table, while store-brand red plastic cups remained overturned and ping pong balls from your beer pong tournament have mysteriously vanished forever?

Yeah, my house isn’t really much different than that scenario right now. Only, instead of crappy beer cans, I’ve got juice boxes and flavored water bottles littering my living room. I mean, seriously, at one point, I counted four empty juice boxes, three half-full ones, two empty water bottles and two full ones, plus a coffee cup for good measure all dotting our living room floor, tables and couches.

And it may or may not have taken me a good five minutes to scrub the thin layer of fruit punch off our coffee room table. Our living room may not be missing ping pong balls this time, but there are several toys that were eaten by the couch and may never, ever be heard again. (I’m not that sad about those toys)

Remember my whole whiny rant up there about the no sleep treatment we’ve been getting? Well, friends, the last time I skipped this many nights of snooze was definitely in my college days. My roommate and I used to stay up until two, three in the morning playing cards, coming up with inappropriate names for new taco bell items based on slang for women’s genitalia or just rehashing something stupid so-and-so did. And when that 8:30 class rolled around, our butts got up and went to it, for fear our advisor, Sister Eileen (yeah, our college advisor was a nun), would call us inquiring about our absence. Of course we later skipped our afternoon communications or journalism class to – of course not nap – but instead, reward ourselves with a smoothie for actually attending history of the English language.

And have I mentioned the clothes? Clothing everywhere. You would think our dryer threw up and we all lost the ability to fold and put away laundry in the Chubby Vegan household. I’d like to blame this on our respiratory issues; however, this is a pretty regular occurrence in our home. I like clothes. My daughter likes clothes. Therefore, we have far too many between the two of us. My husband owns probably triple the amount of t-shirts I own and our son has quite a collection of pants himself. The culmination of these events has led to mounds of clothing – dirty mingling with clean – winter interaction with fall fashion – and it’s gotten to the point where I find searching for my clothing in actual dresser drawers to be arduous and unnecessary.

I can’t help but think back to college when my roommate and I were less than zealous about putting away our outfits, and instead threw them on the large chair and ottoman we had in our room for overnight guests. It’s probably a good thing we didn’t have many overnight guests, or they might have been swallowed whole by our laundry pile – that or we would have had to put our skanky club shirts and skirts away – ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha.

And let’s talk about the cheap pizza and greasy Chinese takeout for a minute. Was there anything better in college than a pile of fried rice or lo-mein on a plate when you were sleep-starved and hung over? Absolutely not, well, except maybe for birthday cake ice cream. That stuff was pretty rad. The same taste holds true today when you’re sleep-deprived and feel hungover simply because you were up with a two year old screaming in your ear all night. You most certainly have no desire to heat food up yourself, which makes the crappy pizza crust and grease-coated noodles taste all the more refined. I’m serious folks, treat yourself to some take out on the giddy up. It’ll take you right back to your college days.

Ultimately, however, there’s one changed, but still interlinking connection between my mom life and my college days – and that’s the overwhelming sense of family. Whether it’s the one you birthed or the one you built for yourself while bonding over being away from home and starting a new adventure, few things feel stronger than the friendships you form during these pivotal years – the ones where you dream about having a family with your college best friends – and the ones where you actually start your family. You rarely feel alone, which might be the most important thing of all.

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  1. How funny and so very true. Sometimes I feel like Im messier and more sleep deprived than when I was in school!

  2. I',m just wondering how did you manage to get your boy to sleep for so long?! my lil lady is 1.5 years old and still gets up every 3-6 hours :\ any ideas? she's my first one btw...

    1. He is such a crank pants if he doesn't sleep! We've lucked out with him and he digs his sleep. I will say from time to time he'll wake up in the middle of the night and play with a book or toy we put to bed with him for 30 minutes or so, but we leave him be and he usually goes back to sleep! I wish I had a secret for you, but he started putting himself to sleep around four or five months (didn't even want rocked) and has kind of stuck with it since. He weaned from two naps a day to one big one at about 11 months.