THE BLOG
04/27/2014 11:37 EDT | Updated 06/27/2014 05:59 EDT

Children Are Parasites. How Do We Love Them So Much?

Children are parasites. Now before you start angrily hitting the comment button, know that's Oxford Dictionary's definition, not mine. The dictionary defines a parasite as "an organism which lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other's expense."

I'm not putting this out there as a negative, but think about it. From the moment of conception, a baby literally feeds off of its mother, relying on her for nutrition while making her sometimes sick, sometimes diabetic, and always uncomfortable. I mean, who knew gestating a kid could give you carpal tunnel. And why doesn't anyone warn you about that stuff?

Even after you have the child, if the mom is breastfeeding, the kid should still be considered a parasite. And if anyone says breastfeeding is not at a mother's expense, then they've never had cracked nipples or breastfed a baby with early teeth. The child will no longer reside in you, but it will take over your life, deciding when you get to sleep, eat, shower, go to the bathroom, and even answer the phone. You will still be its mode of transportation well after the age of two, even when they've learned to walk.

So even if by definition the child is no longer considered a parasite, by extension I argue that it is. I think you could replace "deriving nutrients" in the Oxford definition with "depriving nutrients," because food for a parent in the early days of child-rearing will be based on what you can grab and eat with one hand, meaning granola bars and apples. Or you could replace "benefits by deriving nutrients" with "benefits by siphoning time, energy, money, and sanity," I think the description still applies.

Now don't get me wrong -- I love my kids. A lot of my friends will probably argue that I do too much with them. My husband calls me a helicopter parent, which I disagree with, but he's entitled to his (wrong) opinions. But I like to be involved with my kids. They're under the age of five and they still need a lot of guidance and nurturing, and I'm a nosy person in general so I like to know what's going on.

But I'll be the first to admit that kids are time-sucks. They can literally consume every waking second you have by demanding all of your attention. And if you have more than one and they're young, good luck trying to "nap when the baby naps." What if they're on different nap schedules? What if that's the only time you get to have a shower, or wash the bathroom that hasn't been washed in three months, or eat something that requires both hands? As they grow older, they still consume every waking and sleeping moment you have. You're up every time they throw up in their bed, pee in their bed, or fall out of their bed. You're up when they decide six in the morning is the correct time to wake up EVERY day. You're up all night when they're sick because they can only sleep if they sleep on top of you, but you still get out of the house to work a full day, and then come home to stay up all night again because the fever always comes back about a half hour before you walk through the door.

And yet we do it, and somehow we survive. I suppose the saving grace is that kids, unlike parasites, live off of their parents, financially, emotionally, and yes, sometimes even physically, but what we get back in return makes it more of a symbiotic relationship. What else can brighten a bad day more then a kid who's so happy to see you at the door, they happy dance. Or when your child tries to sing "Oh, Canada" and they really believe the lyrics are "we stand on guard for me." Or when they hug you so tight, you honestly forget where you are or what you're doing. So for as much as we give, parents generally get more than one hundred times back.

A leech is also technically a parasite and the medical community uses them to help save lives all the time, so not all leeches are harmful. And even when you want to throw your baby out the window at two, three, AND four o'clock in the morning, remember everything will look better in the morning. Well, maybe except for you. But everyone will be cooing over the kids anyway, so no one will notice.

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