There are some lessons in life you can’t prepare for beforehand. No matter how many parenting books you read or how many babies you handle, nothing prepares you for the joy, terror, and rapid-fire learning that occurs when you are faced with parenting your own child.
The first lesson of parenthood is patience. You discover you’re pregnant and then must wait almost an entire year to see your little one in person. Of course there is much to marvel at during pregnancy, but the wait can be excruciating, especially for those used to immediate gratification.
Once your baby is born, however, you learn that waiting for her birth was just the beginning of the endless cycle of parenting which requires infinite patience. She will sleep when she wants and wake when she wants. She’ll eat as much as she wants and will likely eat slower when you’re more than ready for her to hurry up. Learning patience has a purpose, however. Your baby is helping you learn to take life at a slower pace so that you can enjoy it that much more.
When things go wrong in your life before children, you might have forgiven the perpetrator,
but once you become a parent, you learn an entirely new meaning of forgiveness. There are two things likely to occur when you begin handling your own baby at home. The first is that you call your own mother and thank her for dealing with you as a baby. The second is you’re going to get frustrated and mad at your baby at least a few times.
She hasn’t done anything wrong – she’s just a baby and doesn’t know that 1am isn’t the best time for a play session or that poop that explodes out of her diaper is more than just an inconvenience – even at four in the morning. So no matter how mad you get that you’re now taking care of pooh emergencies instead of sleeping (again), you’ll always love your baby and constantly seek her forgiveness for thoughts she hasn’t a clue you ever had. The best forgiveness is the kind you allow yourself when you discover that no matter how hard we try, no parent is perfect – you just do the best you can to do what’s right for your baby.
The biggest skill of parenting is the ability to multitask. Your multitasking abilities kick into overdrive when you have more than one child, but even a single tiny baby can suddenly make things a lot more complicated around the house. How do your hold a crying baby and bring in the eggs and milk from the car? You need to fix dinner and entertain a tired baby at the same time. Nobody has perfected these kinds of skills better than slightly frazzled parents.
Parents are great at taking things in stride once the newness of the baby wears off just a bit. In the first few days, everything is like an emergency and stress runs high. But after a few weeks, you realize that arriving fifteen minutes late is okay if you have to change a diaper. And keeping multiple changes of clothes in the car is the simplest solution to the inevitable spit-up on the way. Once upon a time you might have freaked if you found yourself covered in mashed bananas while driving the car with no make-up on in your house slippers. Now you just know that some battles are worth fighting and others are just as easy to skip all together in exchange for a hot shower and another snuggle with the source of those bananas.
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