About two years ago my husband and I shared that we were starting on the new, thrilling and yet frightening, journey of becoming parents.
We made T-shirts and shared ultrasound pictures. We planned for everything from the nursery colors to a birth plan. We enjoyed the fun in watching my stomach grow into its own entity and the excitement of what the end product would be.
We packed a hospital bag weeks before and attended every parent class at the hospital that we could sign up for. We even worked up quite a detailed labor plan in place for when we arrived at the hospital.
Of course, all the parents out there know, it never goes the way you think it will. 23 hours later, one emergency C-section, and a baby in the NICU I quickly learned that having a plan holds no weight within the new world of being a parent.
In my first year of parenthood, I learned how unprepared I was for this role, classes and all.
Since I’ve had my daughter, a few friends of mine have signed up for the parenthood train.
I get the simple questions about what books I read, and what items I recommend they register for.
They ask how Eva’s birth story went, and if it was our plan. And somehow mixed in between these diaper pail reviews and recovery recommendations the big question always appears.
What advice do you wish you had going into parenthood? These three lessons learned are a part of my daily song, and something I would share with every new parent I know.
How many maternity/parenthood books should one pregnant woman legally be allowed to own?
I was that six month pregnant woman in the maternity section of Barnes and Nobles trying to study for an exam that I knew was coming in three months.
I don’t know what magic key to parenthood I was looking for, but as my weeks progressed so did my book collection.
The books were informative, and yes, I learned quite a bit. But the lesson I slowly learned my first year of motherhood is that Eva is her own self.
My husband and I are our own parents. These two facts place us and our child in our own unique position.
A book can be a good reference, but no child will follow the exact same path or learning style as another.
I learned quite a bit about different philosophies and parenting styles. However, in the end I need to learn from Eva and myself, how we can work together to create a parenting philosophy that best fits our mold.
The best thing I can do for my daughter is, be present and study how she learns. By being present and aware of her learning style and personality, I can observe and explain information to her (and for her).
Follow your gut, most likely in all situations, your motherly instinct will guide you in the right direction. If all else fails, and something major comes up call your doctor (or your mom).
Quickly you realize that your opinion is one of many in this big world. You leave school, and you are naive to think that the bullies and haters are gone for good.
I have only been in this realm of parenting for a year and a half, and I was not prepared for the amount of this I would encounter. We all do it at some point or another.
We silently judge the mother whose child is throwing a tantrum, or not behaving in public. We walk away and silently promise ourselves we will do it better when we become parents ourselves.
And then you become a parent, and you realize that some of those judgments were passed too harshly or quickly.
You realize how hard this role actually is, and you send mental apology notes to all those moms you’ve judged in the past.
The judgments from other parents, and even those who are not yet parents, can be absolutely traumatizing. No matter what you do, it is never good enough for someone else.
You get judged by being a stay at home mom or leaving to work out of the home. You are judged for feeding your child organic or choosing to let them have a cookie from time to time. There are a million different topics like these.
As long as your child is safe and loved, everyone has the right to parent how they see fit.
Just remember that these hypercritical friends, family, and outsiders aren’t always trying to be hurtful. Find solace in those people who understand the struggle.
The jabs won’t stop hurting, but knowing you have support to help you through it is the key to surviving the dreaded parent bullies (and public tantrums). And at the end of the day, remember that only you and your significant other know what’s best for your child.
Don’t blink, or you’ll miss something absolutely amazing. I know, I know that everyone tells you this.
The amount of people who stopped me at eight-month pregnant to tell me this is incalculable. I smiled, accepted their advice, and moved on with my day.
It is so easy to get caught up in the dishes in the sink or the laundry piling up. Being me, it took me a while to accept the mess.
The best decision I ever made was making a point to always remind myself that my daughter will never be this small again.
Every day I turn around, and she has learned something new. It can be a big milestone like taking a step, or a smaller one like learning to un-wrap a Hershey kiss all by herself.
All of those milestones add up, to create a little person that will one day be too old for dress up or helping you decorate the cookies.
My ironing can wait, and the floor can be dirty for one more day. I won’t remember how much dog hair was on the floor, or if our towels got washed right away.
I will remember the Eskimo kisses, the forts built, and the first time she was able to tell me what sound a cow made.
I am in no way claiming to be a parental expert; anyone who does might just be insane. These three things are simply the lessons I remind myself to hold on to through the tough days and the best days.
I know I will mess up countless times; my only hope is that my wins outnumber my losses.
I have years of learning to go, and I can only imagine all the experiences to come.
I hope to escape with some good stories, quite a few lessons learned, and some wonderful kids.
And for now, these three things are the chorus to the song I sing daily. The same song that keeps the important things just a little closer.