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It has been well publicized that having children will greatly increase your ability to love and empathize, as well as feel unbridled joy.  Also true: the sleeplessness, decreased standards of personal hygiene and the inability to get out the door in under 25 minutes ever again.

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 small children than anyone ever mentions.  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 all the time again as I’m constantly taking orders, as well as serving and clearing food and drinks for the three demanding customers under five feet tall at my house.

Customers whom I’m also tasked to do the cooking for – and I don’t mean that cute cooking one does for a new boyfriend or girlfriend on your first stay-at-home date. Rather, cooking for kids is like being a short order cook for a bi-polar dictator.  You can whip up their absolute favorite meal and put it on their beloved princess/racecar/giraffe plate and still be hollered at.  That they hate this food/place/planet just before said food hits the floor, in an unclear manner.  Thrown?  Dropped?  Willed to the ground by their grandmother as some kind of psychic karma towards me?

I was also vaguely aware that 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 and used stickers.  It’s so intense it can cause you to say idiotic things like, “Stop acting like two-year-olds!” to a bunch of two-year olds.

But the seemingly obvious job that I really didn’t comprehend until after my children were born, photographed and announced (and there was no real way of pretending they weren’t mine) was that of 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 also have key tools they get to use when working with children – like arm restraints and anesthesia.

“Nurse Mom,” on the other hand, is tasked to do all the highly emotional healing work while children are flailing in pain and fear.  Like the almost daily pouring of betadine or peroxide on a scraped knee/elbow/chin.  Or the ice to the face from the accidental sibling kick during TV time.  Or my least favorite Nurse Mom job: removing splinters.

I once thought that convincing a five year old that sticking a pin into the bottom of his foot to “tare it open just a little” was as close as I might ever come to Lucifer’s wrath. But I was wrong.  Because during bath time this week, I found a splinter in a much more sensitive area of my five-year-old son’s body.

After immediately throwing out every single wood bench in my backyard, I interrupted the self-chastising rage going on in my head to remember that adage people who don’t have children will tell you – that splinters will come out on their own if you leave them be.  Which I have never actually seen happen.  Ever.

Then I did what any sane parent would do and waited for my babysitter to show up.  When she said, “I think it will come out on it’s own,” I realized there was no passing this task off.

“Remove the splinter when he is asleep”, the more experienced nurse mom – my mother – advised.  She said she did this regularly in my childhood.  The image of my mother in 1975, with a cigarette and a martini glass in each hand and a safety pin between her teeth or maybe even her toes was so bad – that I figured I could at least best that.

I spent TWO HOURS that night performing microsurgery with a tweezer on my first-born.  The only thing that kept me from screaming was the flashlight in my mouth.  And what finally stopped my continuous crying, mostly out of pity for myself, was the unbelievable joy I felt after pulling a quarter-inch of wood out of a very tender spot, on my very young man.

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

  1. Radka on Thursday 1, 2013

    A wonderful article, Diane.
    You are very very talented writer and I love your articles because I can improve my English. :)
    Thank you and all the best for you and your family!

  2. amanda P on Thursday 1, 2013

    i saw on twitter where that splinter was and you are one brave lady!! love your column

  3. Laurie b on Thursday 1, 2013

    in my house we call the “splinter removal during sleep” pulling a diane farr. Thanks so much for the tip. Laurie

  4. maximum on Thursday 1, 2013

    I love that all of your humorous takes on things actually have sound advice behind them.

  5. Steven on Thursday 1, 2013

    I don’t think i could ever remove a splinter from another person, never mind while they are sleeping. I am just not ready to be a parent.

  6. Mary's Mom on Thursday 1, 2013

    Back in the day you could give your child a litlte whisky around his or her gums when they were teething, and a smack on the bottom when they weren’t listening. Today’s parents aren’t even allowed to drink or spank themselves! Good luck

  7. debbie on Thursday 1, 2013

    oh, good luck with all your children Diane! they are lucky to have you.

  8. tom Frank on Thursday 1, 2013

    This is very true. My mother was always stuck doing the harder jobs – more than my dad or my doctor. Moms are very underrated. Thanks for your column Diane it is always so funny. Where can I find it in print? Tom

  9. william on Thursday 1, 2013

    I don’t think i could do this! I would faint pulling out a splinter and cooking on demand just sounds like a nightmare

  10. be a trix on Thursday 1, 2013

    motherhood is what you make of it. And you are still laughing at yourself so you will do well! Thanks for all your stories they always make me smile.

  11. Diane Farr on Thursday 1, 2013

    i agree so much. thank you for commenting. df

  12. Diane Farr on Thursday 1, 2013

    that would be the goal. little advice, little intel, lot of laughing. thanks for reaching out. df