As my children have moved beyond the baby stage and some of my friends are pregnant, I’ve thought about all those baby books you read while pregnant that really give you absolutely no clue what pregnancy and parenting are all about. I’ve realized all they really do is have you worrying about every last thing that could potentially happen, taking the joy out of pregnancy and giving you an entirely warped idea of what parenting is all about. So moms-to-be: Put down your books and read this, 12 Things Those Baby Books NEVER Tell You About Parenting.
- As childish, silly, and mindless as it may seem… parenting often becomes a competition. Social media only exacerbates this problem. Every parent wants to talk about how their child is the earliest talker, earliest walker, best artist, counts the highest, runs the fastest, has the cutest hairstyle, breastfeeds the longest, is the best eater, best dancer, best gymnast, best soccer player, most well-behaved, said the funniest thing, made the biggest mess, and the list goes on. It gets sickening after a while, to be honest. Parenting opens you up to more judgment and criticism than you have ever experienced before. Remember how we all felt when Britney Spears was driving around Beverly Hills with her toddler on her lap? It’s kinda like that. About everything.
- Making ‘mommy’ friends is an endless, miserable quest. You know the kids you’d never talk to in high school, either because you were too popular and they were the nerds or you were in drama and they were the jocks or because you didn’t really talk to much of anyone? Well, they’re all running around with snotty-nosed kids now, on a mission to find like-minded mommy friends. You end up going on playdates to random locations with people you would never have anything else in common with, talking about baby-led weaning, homeschooling, and cloth diapers (or formula-feeding, daycare, and sposies). Adult beverages should be dispensed at all playgrounds.
- Remember all the years you spent thinking about the type of parent you will one day be? All the conversations while pregnant about all the things you would and would not do? Well, hate to break it to you, but until that child is here, you really have no freakin’ clue what you will actually do. It doesn’t matter if your boyfriend has a child or you have a degree in early childhood development… you will do what feels right at that exact moment, regardless of what you imagine your plan is. The plan often becomes survival while attempting to enjoy every moment you can with your child.
- There’s no such thing as spontaneity anymore. Remember the days of jumping in the car with friends or your spouse, driving who knows where, coming home whenever, and creating memories for a lifetime? Well… that doesn’t happen when you have to bring diapers and wipes and a change of clothes and snacks and sippy cups and entertainment for the car… and, well, anything else that makes it so you’re no longer able to simply leave your house.
- Your baby will crawl off your bed and fall on his head…at least once. You will feel like the most irresponsible parent ever. How can you have let that happen? Well, you did. And it’s happened. And instead of feeling horrible about it, brainstorm ways to make sure it never happens again. (And it may still happen again.)
- You will contemplate your own mortality more than you ever have before. I thought I was alone in this, but while speaking to other mothers, I realize we all experience this to some degree. I have thought of every way my death would impact my children, all the ways my children can accidentally die in a public place, all the things in my home that could potentially kill them, etc. This is normal. Just try not to let it stop you from living your life and doing right by your child.
- Crises always occur when you are trying to take just a few minutes to sit on the toilet in peace. That’s when you hear something crash to the ground, someone crying, demands being made, and pretty much everything that can go wrong… simply because you have to go #2. Locking the bathroom door does not help. They know how to knock, scream, and drive you crazy enough to open the door.
- Speaking of going #2… You know baby’s favorite time to do that? Approximately 90 seconds after you’ve put a clean diaper on, pulled up your baby’s pants, and put on his socks and shoes. Yep, that’s when he will inevitably poop. Or in the bathtub (gotta love floaters). Or the post-bath, no-diaper-on-yet, projectile poop. Or the out-the-diaper, up-the-back poop. Or in a public place that does not have a changing table so you have to either: 1. change your baby on a grimy bathroom floor -or- 2. leave your grocery cart in the middle of the store, run to your car, change your child, and hope that no one restocks the stuff that took you 45 minutes to find with a child screaming for you to open every package in said cart.
- Your child will walk in on you having sex. It will be awkward, you will be far more scarred and mortified than your child, and you will have to very quickly come up with a reason why you are bent over while daddy is standing naked behind you. Thankfully, my daughter came up with an excuse for me when she said “But I want a hug, too.” Yep. True story.
- Remember when your mom didn’t let you go to that party in high school or didn’t want you hanging out with a particular friend? Well, you may still be bitter about it… but you’ll understand why she did it. Because the thought of something happening to your child is just beyond terrifying, and it’s easier to say “no” than risk the fear you experience when your child is free to do what he/she wants. This is true of 2 and 4-year olds, too. I’m guessing it gets worse when driver’s licenses and under-age drinking are involved. (P.S. Don’t ever admit to your mom that you understand now why she made these decisions. #ego)
- There is no perfect child. Something will be ‘wrong’ with your kid. It’s just how it goes. Speech disorders, gross motor delays, sensory processing disorder, severe food allergies, anger management issues, weird birthmarks… it doesn’t matter, there’s always something. And you know what? It truly doesn’t matter, because your kid will still be the cutest, smartest, most awesome kid ever… simply because it’s the child you made. Find beauty in the imperfections and embrace them.
- From conception to college graduation (not that we’re there yet, but theoretically), parenting is the most amazing journey you will ever even consider embarking on. It will challenge all of your preconceived notions about pretty much everything. It will make you the happiest, craziest, most selfless, most frustrated, most blessed person to every walk this planet. And no matter how wonderful a job you do as a parent, you will still doubt yourself more often than you’d like and you’ll worry that perhaps you didn’t do enough. But you probably have done enough because you’ve done what you’ve done out of an undying love for this amazing being you have created.
Okay, so if I didn’t scare you with this list of 12 Things Those Baby Books NEVER Tell You About Parenting, you *may* just be ready for parenthood.