So, you think you’re ready?
Things will never be the same…duh!
As your stomach protrudes more and more you will hear this from every parent and non-parent alike:
“Your life will never be the same.” As if you weren’t aware that everything you know about life itself is about to change
But what does that really mean?
This is the PC way of saying advice, solicited or not! Parents every where will share cute anecdotes about their kids and experiences as parents. But what they are really doing is begging for validation. When you either laugh at the mishaps or follow the same path as sage advice, you are validating their existence as a parent and hopefully telling them they are a good one. Every parent’s fear is that they are not doing it right, which is true, but please, throw us a bone. Do what you will with these “stories” just be forewarned that your response could determine the mental well being and self-worth of the story-teller.
Here are a few examples of things that will never be the same….
Baby’s and yours. Hungry cries, wet diaper cries, tired cries, angry cries, it’s Tuesday cries, sad cries, plain old sobbing, lack of sleep sobbing, lack of chocolate cries, hysterical cries, shrieking, cackling, …oh sorry, I was sharing a flash back. They say you will come to know the difference between all these different types of cries, and believe it or not you will. It’s like your first day on the job or at school, it seems like you will never learn your way but you always do. (The last few cries listed are for your husband to come to learn. It is imperative that they know the difference and act quickly.) You will hear, “The trick to telling the difference is…” and the “stories” begin.
Not a subject you probably have given much thought except when frustrated or stubbed your toe. But then you probably use its other form of $#!T! Well, you can’t say that anymore. And that is not what I am talking about anyway. I am talking about poop, real poop. From the time your child is born until I don’t know when, you will find yourself discussing defecation with your spouse, friends, if they will listen, and at the grocery store with complete strangers.
Topics such as what color it is. How often is it? What consistency is it? What color did you say it was? Does it stink – yes the old joke that you think your own $#!T doesn’t stink now moves to the next generation, your kids poop doesn’t stink either!! No, really, this isn’t a joke you will truly believe your kids shit doesn’t stink! Oops, did I just say shit, I meant poop or as some fondly call it poo poo, poopy, caa caa or good old #2.
Yes yours! Again, you will find yourself discussing these items like tomatoes at the market. They will never be the same, or so I am told, I am still holding out hope. You will discuss all possible topics pertaining to these beauties. Do they produce milk? Do they produce enough milk? How often does the child use them? Don’t forget to switch sides. Are you keeping track of which side you use? Can you believe women pay money to make them bigger!?! Oh my God they leak! They what? And the stories begin.
Or lack thereof. You will obsess over this issue like never before. And everyone else you know will seem to be obsessing about it too. Is the baby sleeping? Are you sleeping? How much is the baby sleeping? And the advice to let them cry, Oh Lord, never let them cry, put them in a crib, put them in your bed, put them next to your bed… And the stories begin.
In your sleep deprivation you will be convinced that there is money to be made by selling sleep. You would also be willing to buy some sleep if someone would just start the darn business of selling sleep. But then why don’t you just start it? Well, you can’t quite work out the details as your thought process is a bit foggy. But it will nag at you and nag at you and nag at you – oh, sorry I am sharing a flash back again. Let’s move on.
Kids, yours, all. Your child will make you smile and laugh out loud with all their antics. You will also laugh at the most ridiculous things; partly out of sleep deprivation and partly because you’re, well, sleep deprived. Did I say that already? Well you won’t know the difference, Sleepy. You will come to understand why clowns are so funny. Ok, so you may not really understand the whys of it, but you will thoroughly enjoy seeing your kid laugh ‘till-it-hurts at the stupid things clowns do. You yourself will do the stupid things clowns do! You would stop at nothing to get your kid to laugh – in the privacy of your own home of course, out in public, sorry kid you have to watch the clowns.
Ahead or behind? You wouldn’t think this was an issue until your kid(s) are in school, would you? Well, quite simply, you would be wrong. It starts the moment they arrive on the planet. How long is your baby (they aren’t “tall” yet as they just lie there in the first few weeks)? How old was your child when they first slept through the night? (See what I mean? Everyone wants to know about it!) How much is your baby eating? How much does your baby weigh? How much did you say they were eating? Is he or she sitting up? Are they crawling yet? It just goes on and on and on.
And as much as you say to yourself, and eventually out loud, sometimes at the top of your lungs to anyone who will listen “it just doesn’t matter, every kid has their own schedule.” It will eat at you. Why isn’t my kid sitting up yet? Is there something wrong? You know in your heart that kids don’t crawl off to first grade but you still worry, maybe mine will be the first? Little Johnny next door was sleeping through the night at 4 weeks! Eeek, what is wrong with our 5 week old angel?? You don’t want it to bother you but it does. You find yourself bragging to other parents about milestones, yours and your child’s, as soon as you are able which is, well, as soon as you hold your child for the first time. This is when you too start telling “stories” in hopes of positive feedback. I am sending you hugs right now, and laughing “oh my, what sage advice!”
You as a parent. You will meet new parents who have only had a child for, say two weeks, but they are way ahead of those who have yet to become parents. The instant you become a parent you are more experienced than those who are not parents. If you have a six month old you are so much more experienced than the parents of a three month old. These parents who are less experienced than you will turn to you for advice and guidance (a.k.a. “stories”). They will turn to you with huge eyes of hope. Please, guide them well, after all, you know all there is to know and it should be fresh in your brain because you just experienced it, right?
I know it is a lot of pressure but I am sure you will take it in stride as all parents before you have. The “experienced” parents bask in the glow of being able to tell someone how to do something regarding babies, rather than feeling dumbfounded all the time. It only lasts for a few seconds as you tell your story, so enjoy it. These are the moments that keep you going, and of course, there are always more experienced parents than you to turn to when you are lost in the forest of parenthood.
Fast and slow. This is another phenomenon that astounds parents and scientists alike. How is it that when you have been awake for so many hours in the day, week and month they can still seem to fly by? Wouldn’t the opposite be true? I was awake at 12 o’clock, 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, etc. and the night went really, really, really slowly (as you would expect), but the weeks and months zoom past in a blur (not expecting that!). No one has yet unraveled the mysteries of this time warp/time lost but you experience it minute by minute. “Before you know it your kids will be driving off to college…” and the stories begin.
Your nose will become friend and foe in this journey known as motherhood. For some reason the fathers don’t seem to inherit this “gift”. You may have noticed while you were pregnant that your sense of smell increases to that of a bloodhound or better. Well, in my experience, it doesn’t seem to subside after the kid arrives. It seems most moms I have met can identify a poopy diaper from 50 paces and tell you which child the odor is emanating from, or tell you what was spilled on the table earlier that day or what perfume the person five tables away is wearing! It can be truly amazing. “Oh I can remember the smell of….” and the stories begin.
Not just yours. You will never look at another child, or in some cases human being, in the same way, again. You will now see your own child every where you look. What you would do in the same way, what you would do differently and so on. It is an amazing shift that you don’t really notice until you find yourself bursting into tears at the sight of a homeless person because you realize that they too were someone’s baby! I, ah, have only heard about this, you know second hand…. and the stories begin.
Well what can I say? Someone has just entered your life and they are more fun to shop for than even yourself. You can hardly contain yourself or your money. All the things you wished you had when you were little will find there way into your home, maybe not into your kid’s room, but definitely into your home. How could you possibly deny them that super cute thing that they just love when it only costs $7.00? (It seems many things cost $7; it must be a psychological parental cutoff or something, just over $5 meaning it is not “cheap” but not quite $10 so it is a bargain!) This does wear off though, well for most folks it does. I am sure you have met the few who have yet to get their spending under control. It really gets curbed if and when the second child comes along.
Whether you are a reader or not. These things are everywhere and they cover every topic from Apnea to zebra stripes and all topics in between. You will rarely find two that agree on a given subject but you won’t be able to stop buying them. You may even read some although not much stays in your sieve-like, sleep deprived brain – oh sorry referring to myself there. When the fog lifts and you are sorting through the stacks and stacks of books that have entered your life you will see how books seem to seep into your home.
You purchase them in the hopes of an answer to that burning question. You think maybe once you will figure it out on your own and won’t have to ask a more “experienced” parent but, alas, you will still turn to the elders for advice and guidance. It is like a force of nature that you can not deny.
Spouse or Partner –
This topic is covered in many books and even more magazines. I think it was in every month’s “Baby Magazine” we received. This may be the only subject on which books and articles actually agree: take care of this relationship, don’t put it on hold “while the kids are young” or you could be very sorry. How to do this, of course, is up for debate in all those books and magazines. What do you do with this person now that you are a family? You will never look at them the same way because they helped create your new love, your child. “What we used to do….” and the stories begin.
You have joined the ranks. You will become uncomfortably aware of what your parents were talking about all those times you just stared at them in wonderment and pity when you were a kid. You are a parent, you are the reason your child will be seeking counseling in 15 or so years. There is no possible way to do this job correctly but you will die trying – literally. You will be a parent for the rest of your life. Sorry to get all heavy on you but let’s face the realities, shall we? This is a monumental journey that you have embarked on and there is no going back now.
Yes you. You are a parent now and you are forever changed. Your view on the world is tainted by that fact and your life path is altered. Whether you birthed or not your body will never be the same. It has become a nourisher and a caregiver for ever more. You mend wounds both real and imaginary, you are a safe place to be held, rocked and generally soothed. You will be looked up to and imitated whether you want or deserve it. You are a parent, fully responsible for another human being. Holy crap where are the books?
I hope you enjoyed this. Remember my mental wellbeing and self-worth and are in your hands. 🙂
I wish you the best health and sleeping patterns on earth. I am here for you if you want or need to call. I can pass along what I have learned with my two kids and maybe be of help. Whatever I can do just let me know.