When I was going to become a parent, we knew there were many things we would need to learn. Friends and family would offer advice to us, some were the consistent “sleep when she sleeps” and some were cautionary, like “don’t have more children than you have arms”. The problem was that they all seem to be the same. It’s a problem with person to person contact, we are not inclined to list of a number of things, and we are restricted to what’s on our mind at that moment.
Well, after ten months we’ve gather a number of nuggets of wisdom for the new parent to read at their leisure (and for other parents to read, nod, and say “Yep!”
Everything is a season. With a new baby, they go through phases that often last a while. Then, they change. She will eventually sleep through the night, you just need to make it through the night feedings. However, it’s also true of the things you love. You can put her down now, but next season she’ll be crawling away.
It’s the little things. It’s about her little advances. Discovering a rattle, then discovering that she can make it rattle. My personal favorite was the time she discovered that a post card can have a different color on each side. She held it and rotated it back and forth just amazed.
You will be irrationally mad at her sometimes. This will most likely be because of lack of sleep. You are not a terrible parent for wanting to yell at her. (so long as it doesn’t happen much) Mine happened at three in the morning, when instead of falling back asleep, she looked at me and smiled. Smile?! Go to sleep!
There will be beautiful moments Like when she recognizes your voice for the first time.
It’s not like TV. She’ll babble “da” a million times before she means it.
Sleep Everyone says it, but it’s worth saying again. You will love sleep when you can get it.
Laundry Of course every time you get a chance to sleep, you do laundry. How is it that someone so small can create so much laundry?
Why won’t you just go to sleep?! The most common phrase the first couple of months.
Food Anytime anyone offers you food, take it. Easily the most desired thing those first weeks, yet so easily forgotten about. When you’re both exhausted, dinner seems so difficult, or you just forget altogether that it’s dinner time. We fell into the McDonalds trap, which isn’t a good thing (unless it’s Monopoly, then it’s an awesome thing!)
Clothes Anytime anyone offers you clothing, take them. Used clothing is hardly used, and having extra clothes spreads out trips to laundry, and gives you insurance on those spit-up and/or diarrhea days.
She grows Don’t get attached to any outfit because she will outgrow it by the next time you want her to wear it. Which also leads to…
Capture it If there is a moment or outfit you want to capture, capture it right away because tomorrow she will have moved on, or outgrown it.
Take pictures No one has ever said I took way too many pictures of my daughter.
Life sabbatical Just accept that whatever your hobby is, whatever things you used to do, you are going to be taking a two year sabbatical. Any moment you have for them is a special blessing.
You’re special too The knowledge that you recognize that this child is immensely special and that God has chosen you to make sure she grows up safe, secure and prosperous makes you pretty special too.
The monotony Wake up, change diaper, feed, play, nap, wake-up, diaper, play, nap, wake-up, diaper, feed, sleep. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Mental breaks Take five minutes for yourself, make sure you do something where you can turn your brain off. If its watching a baseball game, or reading the paper, or just sitting on your porch. Your mind needs a break.
God may have rested on the 7th day, but you don’t get to There are no days off in child care. She needs food, diaper changes, naps, love, and protection every day, multiple times a day. You may get breaks, but almost never a day off.
The Master Plan You have a plan on how things will go. They will not all go that way, and it’s okay. The plan is only a guide for the direction you want to go. Your plan is like the Mississippi River. It will flow to its final destination (the gulf, adulthood), but it’s not going to follow that straight path you had in your mind.
Everything that is black is white. Time is slow and fast at the same time. You can’t wait for her to sleep through the night, and yet the first time she does, it scares you to death.
Consistency can scare you Only because it eventually changes. A number of times we have thought that she had died in her sleep because she changed her routine. The night she went from 2 hour sleeping blocks to 4 hour sleeping blocks, or 4 to 8, we woke up, looked at the clock, assumed we slept through her screaming or that she had passed, only to find her sleeping peacefully (that is, until we woke her to reassure ourselves.)
Splitting the duties Some days you will think you do all the work. At the same time your spouse will be thinking the same thing.
Your death is irrelevant Your spouse will suddenly not care about you dying on the floor as much. This one needs explaining. One day Steph tried to call me at work, only I was in a meeting and unable to respond. This happened a couple times over a few hours. Her mind sped to the scenario that I had had some tragedy happen at home before leaving for work, like a heart attack or a seizure where I was down and unable to do anything. Her first worry was not about my well-being, but that of Eva, who would have still been at home waiting to be dropped off at daycare. She’d be at home hungry, scared, maybe eating Quinton’s food, etc. When she later told me this story, I was not mad that she glossed over my potential death. This is when you know you’re a parent. When you’re not as concerned about your spouse’s health and they are cool with it.
You rock One day you’ll be standing in church, and you’ll be rocking back and forth, only you won’t be holding her.
Mom? Dad? When did I become you? It happened to me just recently. Eva fell asleep on the way home, so after we arrived at home, I went back and said the same line I had heard a number of times growing up. “Wake up, it’s time to go to sleep”
You can’t prepare for poop The times they step in their own waste, or worse it spreads up the back. There is no way to prepare for that first time you try to pull off her onesie without getting anything in her hair. You’re doing this at the mall with that pull down shelf that has popcorn in it, the garbage can is just far enough away that you can’t use it without moving away from your baby, and you just need one more hand but your spouse can’t help because they’re not the same gender. Or worse yet, you have to text your spouse to go get more wipes, diapers, clothes, the fire department, and a priest…just kidding about those last two of course, but you might actually want them! Best advice, wing it the best you can and hope she isn’t scarred for life.
My last piece of advice
Call home Call your mom and dad and anyone who cared for you those first few months. Say thanks. Thanks mom for not smothering me when I wouldn’t stop crying and go to sleep.