It’s kind of common, especially for folks without kids, to think that parents are incredibly powerful people. According to popular belief, parents are supposed to be able to control their kids at all times, and are completely responsible for their current and future triumphs or (especially) problems. Your kid didn't get into a top college? Guess mom didn’t breastfeed. Your kid's a bank robber? Guess mom didn’t breastfeed. Sure, our choices matter, but make no mistake; the parenting gods are running the show.
For those who haven’t heard of the parenting gods, they’re the ones moms and dads mutter curses and prayers to as we go through our days, desperately attempting to get toddlers to brush their teeth, coax resistant children into their car seats, prying them off of our legs at daycare or during playgroup, and while attempting to put children to sleep. They’re a tricky bunch, but ultimately they’re on our side in this parenting adventure.
The problem is, with a few exceptions, their sense of humor is sadistic AF. So you won’t get much out of most of them without paying some kind of price first — a price that often involves enduring ear-splitting cries, the occasional bite or kick to the face, and doing way more laundry than you ever thought possible. I’m probably going to pay dearly for revealing secrets like this (RIP, bedtime), but here’s a glimpse of how conversations with the parenting gods typically unfold.
Crankus, The God Of Falling Asleep
This god, along with their partner Alertus, is notoriously hard to appease. Crankus laughs in the face of all your attempts to control sleep in your household. They pre-select a few babies each year to actually sleep predictably well, in order to lure the rest of us into thinking that such a thing is actually possible and under our direct control. This is an illusion.
Crankus will eventually let your child sleep, someday even without your intervention or continuous presence. But you will pay for this favor in bites, kicks, and tantrums.
Alertus, The God Of Staying Asleep
Most of the time, Alertus requires near-perfect circumstances before granting you the gift of a child who remains asleep after finally falling asleep. The perfect room temperature; silence or a steady hum of white noise; “No, dat bwanket” not the other one that is exactly like it; the list goes on, and often varies from child to child.
Along with being nearly impossible to appease, Alertus and Crankus have a ridiculous sense of humor. Case in point: my toddler actually fell asleep randomly in the middle of Public Enemy performing at a museum festival we went to. That he could sleep through, but the tiny click of me re-clasping my nursing bra after I set him down in his crib? Intolerably loud, can't sleep.
Finickus, The God Of Food
Kid eats a variety of foods, but only in small amounts? Won't eat anything that touches anything else on their plate? Won't eat anything unless it's a certain color? Only eats macaroni and cheese? You have Finickus to thank for that. Finickus also makes sure to coordinate with the sleep gods, to ensure that there aren't too many parents whose children both eat and sleep well. That would make things too easy, and stop us from amusing them with our desperate attempts to please them.
Chipper, The God Of Happy Moods
Chipper appears when you finally satisfy the gods of sleep and food, or at random and unsustainably inconvenient moments; like right at the end of a toddler play date, when the child you've spent two hours trying to cajole into playing with the other child finally decides to do so.
Stankeye, The God Of Crappy Moods
This one is less a god than an attack dog deployed by the gods of sleep and food, when they want tribute. (They also haunt goodbyes, really busy days, and store exits.)
Filthus, The God Of Dirt
Filthus is all around you. Filthus isn't picky or particular at all, and has no boundaries whatsoever. Filthus just wants to be your friend, and hopes to ingratiate themselves with you by attaching themselves to everything you love most: your children and everything your child comes in contact with.
Filthus has no idea that this is a terrible strategy.
Broome, The God Of Cleanliness
This god is basically MIA from the moment your baby gets mobile until said child is old enough to reliably do chores. Unless you can coax or pay someone else to summon them on your behalf every few days or so, don't count on seeing this one for a few years.
Amiga, The God Of Friendship
Amiga is perhaps the saving grace of this whole parenting experience, battling loneliness and boredom by guiding your child to playmates who keep them (mostly) happy, and guiding you to other adults who keep you (mostly) sane. Thanks, Amiga!
Couponia, The God Of Deals
When you have to buy diapers, clothes, shoes, and all sorts of other stuff all the time, things get expensive, fast. Couponia, sometimes working alone, sometimes working that word-of-mouth magic with Amiga, lets you know fun things like when to stock up on what for maximum savings, or guides you to the thrift store at the perfect moment to snag a nearly-new toy your kid loves, for practically nothing. Clutch.
The Nameless God Of Humility
The God of Humility is the most influential and demanding of all the gods. We are not to get at all comfortable with this one; they won’t even tell us their name. The God of Humility sees you every time you start getting cocky about your parenting prowess. Taking a little too much pride in how put together you still are even after having a baby? Here they come, ready with a blowout diaper all over your clothes right as you're about to see some friends. Bragging about how your baby always sleeps through the night? The God of Humility has a direct line to Crankus and Alertus, who may decide to either wake that child every night for a week straight, or worse, lie in wait to draft Baby #2 onto #TeamNoSleep.
Whatever you do, do not mess with The God of Humility. Trust and believe, you will pay dearly.