So – I’m trying to woo Toledo Area Parent, so I can be a guest blogger on their online edition for the next few months, so here goes…
If you pick me, I can be serious. I can talk about how post partum depression kicked my butt for over two years after my first (and second) baby, and how it took a huge, almost marriage ending, fight for me to realize this is was actually PPD. I just thought this was how all new mothers felt. Boy was I wrong. It sucked. I got help, got medicated and finally realized having kids can be fun. Who knew?
I can turn on the serious if need be, but I tend to be a bummer, so I don’t do it often. I wrote a post about cancer a few months back, after it seemed like every good person I knew in life was getting their butt kicked by it, but I let my husband read the draft, and he felt like jumping off a cliff after reading it, so I left it in the draft stage, so as not to have my very few, but loyal, readers jumping out their windows in hopelessness.
But, I can also be funny!!! This is where I feel I really shine! So I was thinking what I might write about parenting that everyone could relate to. And with the coincidence of some of my most favorite people getting ready to jump into procreating, I thought I’d offer some honest, been-there-done-that parenting advice.
I love my kids. They are the best things that ever happened to me. When I go into their bedrooms at night and watch them sleeping peacefully, my heart swells in my chest until I think it’s going to burst. When I hear their peal of laughter at something simple they find utterly delightful, I have to stop to catch my breath. Watching their minds work while they try to figure out a puzzle or new gadget, I am in awe that these beings were created by us.
But then, real life intrudes and I am left wondering, “What the hell was I thinking?!” People laugh and say enjoy your sleep while you can (wink wink) to every pregnant woman they see, but I think it’s way more than that. For me, both my kids slept through the night fairly quickly and have always been good sleepers. It was the awake time that had me freaking out.
I remember driving my son home from the hospital 6 years ago. My first thought was, why on God’s green earth are they just letting me walk out with him??? I would say it was pretty clear we had no idea what we were doing. But no, they just wheeled us out, upended the wheelchair, dropped me on my ass, and ran back in as fast as possible. Meanwhile, I was a hot mess – a sore, hormonally charged, freaking out woman with a husband who was looking at me with the same deer in the headlights look that I mirrored back, all while this poor innocent baby slept peacefully in a carrier – completely unaware of the danger he’s just been put in by having these two completely clueless adults now solely responsible for his well being.
We had to figure out how to feed him, change him, dress him, wash him (thank God the Johnson & Johnson baby wash came with instructions, which yes, we totally read step by step for the first bath) and so on.
They also assume just because I have had boobs all my life, I was now supposed to know how to feed another human being with them. “It’s the most natural thing in the world,” they say. Yeah, say it again, lactation consultant, so I can rip your eyes out. My introduction to breastfeeding is a whole post in of itself. Let’s just say I wasn’t a natural and ended up in crazy pain, with scabby nipples and a hungry kid who I didn’t want to feed because it hurt too bad. (Relax, I figured it out, he didn’t starve.)
You also get a glut of advice. From everyone. Even the lady in the supermarket will tell you in a tsk tsk tone that your fussy kid should be in bed by now (at 5:30 in the evening). They’ll tell you to watch out for the boys, they’ll pee all over. No one ever mentioned that they can also kick out some pretty awesome projectile poo whenever the diaper is off. The stuff that hits EVERYTHING. We called it CODE BROWN, which meant, all hands on deck. When we got rid of it (4 years later), his nursery lamp still had brown stains on it. They also never tell you girls are just as bad. Gracie peed every single time I took off her diaper, and without the convenient hose that boys have for aim, gravity took a better hold and everything below her got soaked. Every. Single. Time. That’s a lot of clothes, onesies, diaper changing pads, blankets, not mention the carpets and/or beds that may have been underneath her at the time too.
There are also no instructions for introducing solid food, which is a great mystery to the first-timer. Watch out for allergies! Don’t give them honey or you’ll give them botulism (which totally sounds scary), nothing too big or too small, make sure you cut everything up! Start with veggies, no start with fruits, no start with kale and sushi so they will like all foods and have a diverse appetite! We have failed in this area, that’s for sure. My 6-year-old is what you would call “picky.” And by picky, I mean his ONLY food groups consist of chicken nuggets, pizza, rolls/biscuits, peanut butter and jelly, and of course, any dessert imaginable. I know, judge away, but if you are like me, and have attempted the food battle every single night without fail for months on end, you know that your “when I have kids, they’ll eat what I give them and that’s that” bravado will be quickly thrown out the window in a desperate attempt to get them to eat ANYTHING of nutritional value. If Will ever ate kale, sushi, or hell, even a cheeseburger, I’d faint on the spot. And probably hold my breath until he was done eating, just in case my breathing would distract him from eating something different and possibly, healthy.
And don’t get me started on the sleeping thing. Do you co-sleep, let them cry it out, wear them for 4 years like the tribes in Africa do, or something else that forgets that mothers and fathers also have to survive these first years as well?
If you’ve read my most favorite book, Created to be His Help Meet, you’ll know that this loony toon thinks mothers should NEVER be away from their children. Ever. No solo shopping trips, no girls night out, nothing. You are created to serve your husband and raise his kids. God I love that lady. Let’s hope we never meet.
In essence, there are extreme viewpoints coming at you from all angles when you finally take the plunge into parenthood. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone is judging you, no matter what you do. Therefore, after 6 years of experience I have realized one thing. I have no idea what I am doing. The one thing I can say to all parents with confidence is this – Trust your gut. If your gut says go to the ER at midnight on a Sunday because you can’t figure out why they’re crying – GO. If your gut tells you something isn’t right about their behavior – GET HELP. If your gut tells you that maybe that last nugget that just dropped on the floor can be salvaged by the 3 second rule to avoid complete anarchy – GIVE IT BACK TO THEM FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
Trust your gut. Get some good supportive friends and family. Ditch the negative judgy people. Laugh. At everything. Because if you don’t, you’ll end up hiding in the closet in tears, which won’t stop them, they’ll find you no matter what, so keep laughing and enjoy the small moments of joy, because you’ve got your work cut out for you.