Lessons from Parenthood

When I was pregnant, I knew everything about being a parent.

Sound familiar? I am sure I’m not alone in saying that parenthood is the most humbling thing that has ever happened to me and of all the things being a mom has taught me there is one lesson that sticks out the most: You don’t know anything. About ANYTHING.

When I was pregnant I used to say things like, “Once my baby comes, I’m never drinking again. I’m done with alcohol. There’s no reason for it anymore.”
Now? I realize that MOMMIES NEED WINE SOMETIMES. Mommies need wine probably more than any other people on the face of this planet need wine. I was so certain that I’d never even look at a bottle of beer again, let alone drink one. Me? Get tipsy? No! I’m a mother now! That’s just terrible!
Pfff. What the hell ever. It’s rare that I drink enough to catch a buzz now, but it’s happened (never when I’m alone with Nellie, of course).

During my pregnancy I judged women who formula-fed. I can remember having discussions where I would say things like, “I mean I understand if you can’t do it for medical reasons or whatever, but if you just don’t try hard enough or don’t try at all, I think that’s terrible.”
Now? I’d like to go back and slap myself in the face. I became one of those moms who chose formula. I tried, I did, but in the end formula was what was easiest, and best for me and Nellie. I wasn’t in a good enough place mentally to endure the pressures and demands of breastfeeding, so we switched to the bottle and it made me a better mom. And if a mom chooses not to try breastfeeding and go straight to formula? I don’t fucking care. Do what works for you, sister, being a mom is hard enough without you having other moms tell you what to do with your ta-tas.

I vowed never to make TV my babysitter. Now I realize that sometimes it is necessary for Nellie to watch Martha Speaks or The Cat In the Hat (which I hate) in order for me to shower, eat, pee, wash bottles, or fold laundry without her screaming at me.

I thought that there would never be a single second where being a mother would feel like work. I thought my maternity leave was going to be filled with sunshine and little bluebirds flitting around mine and my new baby daughter’s head. The reality of maternity leave was different. I enjoyed the time with my daughter, of course, but it was also a very lonely and isolating time. Sleep deprivation, getting into a routine with baby, and postpartum hormones running rampant put a bit of a damper on my fairytale fantasy. I was floored at how much work being a mother felt like sometimes.

The ignorance doesn’t stop once you become a parent, though. When Nellie was 4 months old, I decided she was old enough for some controlled cry-it-out. I lasted three minutes before I ran back in there to pick her up. I realize now that 4 months old is way too neurologically immature for a baby to know how to self-soothe. We didn’t even attempt our modified CIO again until she was almost 8 months old (she puts herself to sleep now without problems).

When Nellie would wet her diaper I would make a mad dash to change it. Now? A little pee in the diaper isn’t going to hurt her. Obviously I don’t let her go hours upon hours in a wet diaper but I also don’t break my neck to change it if it’s just wet and not dirty.

I’ve learned a lot from being a parent. I know what songs make her laugh (Hey Ya by Outkast, The True Blood theme by Jace Everett, Sinister Kid by the Black Keys), and that tickling her feet make her squeal. I’ve learned that athlete’s foot cream with Boudreaux’s Butt Paste on top of it wipe out diaper rash faster than you can say “diaper rash”. I have learned that Baby Einsten is brilliant, and that the toy that Nellie likes best is her can of Puffs. But the biggest lesson I think I have gleaned from the experience so far is: don’t get used to anything. Your baby is going to change faster than you can imagine. And remember.. You don’t know anything. About anything.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about being a parent?

Comments

  1. This was awesome! I recently heard about a friend of a friend whose 15 year old daughter is pregnant and has decided to keep the baby. I can't stop thinking about this child that I do not even know. It's not that I question her decision – it is after all, HER decision. But I wonder if she has romanticized having a baby. And I wonder if anyone has sat this child down and explained how very, very hard parenting really is. I wish I knew her – because I would have her read this post!

    And just for the record? It never ends. My babies are now 14 and 16, and I still don't know ANYTHING.

    Wonderful post.
    Mommy Dearest recently posted..Speechless Monday with a bonus dash of astonishment and consternation

  2. Yes, I totally agree! :) I was just talking to a pregnant woman the other day that looked at me like I was stupid (umm, I have 3 kids, so of course I am alittle dumb!) haha! Its always an exprience!
    Amy recently posted..potty training the monster

  3. I think what I learned most is "everyone can just shut it" LOL Its my baby I know best. If I want to rock her to sleep its my call. If I want to let her sleep with me sometimes its my call. If I let her keep her bottle until she is 2 years old its my call. If I let her eat eggs or peanut butter before age 1 – its my call.

    When did there become an official "rule book" for raising kids and if you break a rule your are a HORRIBLE MOTHER!

    Well I dont think so – my kid my rules LOL

    And you are so right we do know our babies. I know what cry at night she can "cry it out" with and what cry means come get me now. I know what cry means she want food and what cry means she wants a bottle. I know what cry when she gets hurts deserves a your fine stop crying and what cry when she gets hurt deserves a lot more tlc.

    Great post!

  4. I am loving this post! It is all so true!!
    Kelly recently posted..My Gal-Guy Friday

  5. Fabulous post and SO true! It's even better when you've got your second and 3rd kid. Because, you know, number two comes along and you're all like, "Old hat, I got this" except she's completely and utterly different in every possible way from #1. Then #3 comes along and you KNOW you're ready for anything except, NOPE, think again!

    I love being a parent but you're right, I don't know shit. About Shit. 😛
    Rebekah C recently posted..30DOP- Day 10- Ethan Monster

  6. Being less than 4 weeks from having our first baby, this was great to read!
    Breann recently posted..Welcome to Logans Room!

  7. such a great post – i embrace your honesty – i have a 2 year old and an 8 month old – what a learning adventure it is….I laugh that I thought I would never let my house get "messy" – or let my kid watch the same thing over and over (now if sophia wants to watch the same curious george episode I have recorded on our DVR two or three times while I am doing important paperwork, then so be it!)

    I am leaving you a link here of a post I just read at another blog – laugh out loud hilarious that only moms can appreciate – check out her comments on it too, hilarioussssss: http://www.mommyologist.com/2010/11/a-lifes-manua

    hope it brings a smile to your face, we all need some laughter – came to you via SITS, and a very happy belated SITS day to you, I am so behind on my posts just catching up now, better late than never though, yes? have a glorious day sweet bella –
    mangiabella recently posted..Green Chile Cheese Potato Knish

  8. Such an awesome post. I had such great ideas of motherhood, and so many of them have been changed, but not always for the worst!!

  9. You hit the nail on the head with this post! I agree that mommies need alcohol. Now that I have two kids under two, a tall glass of wine is sometimes the only remedy to a day full of nonstop screaming and whining. I don't abuse it, of course, but wine can be my savior at times.

    I, too, said that I would never let TV babysit my kids. Well guess what? Sometimes I need a 20-minute breather and that's where the TV comes into play. I don't feel the slightest bit guilty about it.

    I also said that my children would only eat organic, freshly-prepared foods made by me. Ha! Not only do I seriously lack the the time for it, but my toddler is just about the pickiest eater on the planet. I can't tell you how many of her meals come in the form of mac-n-cheese in a blue box.

  10. I've just been thinking the same thing. We recently went through a fun time with our first sickness, diaper rash, multiple trips to the doctor, teething and a nursing strike and it's made me realize that with a child nothing is every status quo. If it isn't one thing then it's another and not just with the not so fun things. There also the continual physical and mental development. I love my daughter and being a parent but it's definitely different than what I was expecting.

  11. I love this post! Not only have I realized that I know nothing in my 4 years of being a parent, but I've also realized that no one else knows anything either! We just gotta hang on and enjoy the ride and hope it all turns out!

  12. Great post! You pretty much summed up my entire blog in one post. I went from having very specific parenting philosophies while pregnancy too " Well, if it keeps him quiet and it won't kill him…."

  13. It's funny… I love reading your stories and these wonderful women, too. I am a first time mom– baby due in 4 weeks! I know I'm going to be a fanatic. When my friend had a baby, I went around ( per her request) to find a wall mounted dispenser for Purell. Ridiculous… but she wanted the very best for her kiddo. Now? Wash hands? Purell? What?

  14. Oh goodness. I was even worse than this. lol When my sister had a baby, I thought she and all other mothers were crazy. Of course, I watched her in labor, and that probably had a lot to do with it. I was so sure when I had kids that everybody would be on a schedule, the house would be clean, I'd follow all the recommendations, etc. etc. blah blah blah. Yeah stinkin' right! If we all make it out of the house each day with at least our teeth and hair brushed and matching shoes, it's probably going to be a good day. I just wish I had gotten more good advice and less bad advice when I had been pregnant. I think other mothers forget that what works for them may not work for another, and that making suggestions is find and dandy but forcing their opinions on others is just rude. And thanks, I think I may have a cool glass of wine and a hot bath tonight. Here's to hoping little hands aren't reaching under the bathroom door the entire time.

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