Stage 1.Ahh, that first blush of pregnancy.

Stage 2. Ah, that first blush of nausea.

Stage 3. Ah, that first ontological SLAM of responsibility.

Stage 4. Ah, that second SLAM, often occurring during the post-birth realization
that comes over you when they make you take that big burrito home.

Stage 5. Ah, those first 5000 diapers.

Stage 6. Ah, that partial realization of life as you know it ending forever.

Stage 7. Full realization.

Note that some parents reach Stage 7 within moments of learning that they are to become parents, while others take more time before all their gray matter is loosed from their skulls, roasted and returned to their cranial vaults. This form of parenting freak-out catatonia (PFOC) can last for several years -- often occurring beneath the surface -- but is esp. prevalent during the toddler/tween/teen/post-college-moving-back-in decades that oddly stretch out
for something like 160 years (or 900 years subjective).

Stage 8. Night-terror parenting flashbacks.

These are typically a razorblade-bannister montage of child-rearing fears,  doubts and miscellaneous self-loathing -- in those rare moments where you can actually get some sleep -- salted with images of projectile vomit, poop-on-the-ceiling, Force 5 Tantrums, DefCon 1 sibling rivalry, property damage and social deviancy, as well as other catatonia-inducing parenting witness and responsibility. Basically, normal kid stuff.
This can go on for years, and often does, until...

Stage 9. The full-on ontological weight and lifetime responsibility of what you've done -- and the fact that YOU did it to yourself -- often accompanied by lifelong family tree hierarchy/parenting reality bursts, family get-together reminiscences, cognizance of repeated parental patterning (reminders that you're exactly the same as your parents), and of course the rooted notion that this existential road re-surfacing will pave your kids' lives, and their kids', and probably won't end even after your death, which may explain ghosts and hauntings, the living dead and other relatives,
but is mercifully beyond the meager scope of this illustrated guide.

(PARENTHOOD PALLIATIVE: Watch, "Roseanne" reruns. They really seem to help.)

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