Maybe I shouldn’t admit this since I write a blog, but here goes: I rarely read blogs. There are one or two that I stay up-to-date on, but I don’t have a long list of bloggers who I’m committed to following. I also don’t often read the blogs or articles that friends share on Facebook unless they really catch my eye.
So when I happened to read two different blog posts within days of each other that had very similar themes, I took note. In a nutshell, they were about the prevailing negativism that confronts new or expecting parents. Instead of the excitement, joy, and encouragement that should be showered on these people, they are instead confronted with comments such as ‘Just wait!’, ‘What were you thinking?’, and ‘You’re in for it now!’.
I believe in going into a new situation with your eyes wide open, so I think it’s important for new parents to know what they’re getting into. But I also wholeheartedly agree that they need all the encouragement they can get. So to all the new or expecting parents out there, here’s a little insight into what you’re about to get yourself into:
- You will be exhausted. People for miles around will see the bags under your eyes. They will make comments about how tired you look and you will want to stab them with whatever sharp object you find lying nearby. However, before you know it, your baby will not be waking up every two hours and you’ll find yourself slightly more rested. Every once in a while you’ll even miss those middle of the night feedings.
- You will spend a small fortune on diapers. Occasionally your baby will pee or poop several times throughout a diaper change and you will feel physically ill for having wasted so many diapers in a five minute span. You will also be shocked and amazed at how far poop can shoot across a room. The clean up might suck in the short term, but think of the stories you can tell later!
- Sometimes babies cry for no reason and/or for long periods of time. It is stressful and annoying. If another adult is in the house, share rocking duty. A baby can sense when you’ve had it and it will only make the crying worse. Babies also laugh for no reason. You make a weird sound and it’s the funniest noise they’ve ever heard. Their laugh will be the sweetest noise you’ve ever heard. Record it. Also record their hiccups. One day when they’re older and you’re having a rough day, you can listen to the recordings and they will remind you why you love your child.
- You will no longer be able to leave the house with only a moment’s notice and just a purse slung over your shoulder. Outings will require time and preparation, especially at first. You’ll make five trips to the car with all the gear you deem necessary. After the second or third kid, you’ll discover that although it’s not wise to leave the house without a few necessities, the travel swing and pack and play really don’t need to accompany you to the grocery store. You will also discover that you can carry an infant car seat (with infant inside), a diaper bag, a purse, and a kicking and screaming toddler all at the same time. You are Wonder Woman (or Superman). Give yourself a pat on the back… after you put all that stuff down.
- Your child will frustrate you in ways you didn’t know were possible. They will also amaze you in ways you didn’t know were possible.
- The times that you’re running late will be the times when your toddler finds a worm in the driveway and wants to follow it’s painstakingly slow progress to the lawn. Take a deep breath, ask yourself if whatever you’re in a rush to get to is that important, and try to see the world through eyes that are experiencing everything for the first time.
- Your child will go through a phase where the only thing he’ll want to eat is chicken nuggets. This phase will directly coincide with your friend posting on Facebook how her kid’s favorite meal is quinoa, raw asparagus, and kale smoothies. Immediately block this friend, give your kid an extra serving of whatever fruit he’s willing to choke down, and know that eventually his tastes will expand and you are not a bad parent if your child won’t touch spinach.
- Remember this: people only share what they want others to know. The friend with the kid who eats weird, healthy food is not perfect and does not have perfect children. You can bet she’s not leaving status updates about how her five year old won’t sleep in her own bed at night or how her two year old’s tantrums are about to drive her insane.
- You will have days when all that keeps you going is the thought of bedtime. And you will have nights when you crawl into bed and cry because you are positive you are a total screw-up as a parent. First of all, you’re not. Secondly, remember this; children have an awesome ability to love and forgive. Take advantage of it. And take a lesson from it.
- You will hold no other job that will fill you with as much self-doubt, second guessing, and guilt as parenting. You will also hold no other job that will fill you with as much pleasure, wonder, and love as parenting. For all of its frustrations, it is very rewarding. Just ask any parent who has had the joy of feeling little arms wrap around their neck or had a head, heavy with sleep, rest on their shoulder.
- Here’s the most important one. Until you are a parent, you will never understand the depth with which you can love someone. You love your spouse, your parents, your brothers and sisters. But the love you have for your child is unlike anything you will ever experience. It is overwhelming, overflowing, and never ending. If every moment from birth onward was awful (which I hope you realize is not the case!), it would still be worth it, just to experience this love.
A lot of people will tell you to enjoy every moment, but the truth is, there are plenty of moments you won’t enjoy. You’ll wonder why you got yourself into this, how you’ll get yourself through this, and if there’s any way to get yourself out of this. But trust me when I say that there are many moments that make it well worth the effort and heartache. And at the end of the days in which you’re tempted to give up, you will watch your child sleep, wonder at the fact that you made that beautiful little one, and realize that there is no place you’d rather be.