Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Parenthood in Five Lessons

Parenthood is the hardest job there ever was, and for which there is no manual. Buy all the baby books you want. Google to your heart's content. Pick up every pamphlet, leaflet, flyer, and paper scrap you find on what to do and how to be a mom...and you will be just as lost as you were the day you found out you were expecting. Everyone will have mountains of advice for you. Things they swore worked for them. Some will insist you do things their way. It's overwhelming. Now, I say parenthood rather than just motherhood because while I know there are things that the dads and spouses and significant others wont know about (childbirth), the rest of this is pretty universal to either parent.

I have two kids. My son is almost 11 years old. My daughter is almost four months old. It's a huge gap and I learned a variety of valuable things in the process. I was able to spend a lot of time with my son as an only child before I brought my daughter to the world. I would be a lying sack of monkey poo if I said that was my intention from the get go, but I think in many ways it has its benefits. I learned by trial and error with my son and waited long enough to have another child that I forgot everything I learned the first time around. Smart, right? But seriously, there are things that stick. And I am laying them out here for you.

Lesson 1.
And I cannot stress this enough. You can buy all the all-natural, dye free, gluten-free, vegan, homeopathic, no GMO shit you want. I did. Your kid will still eat dirt and lick the dog.

Lesson 2.
For the moms. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT expect to be that fit, fabulous mom right away. Your body will have been through the war. You just grew a human being, for goodness sake. YOU GREW A HUMAN! A person just came out of your body! Natural childbirth? Welcome to your new vagina. C-section? How do you like the new belly shelf?
Listen, the fact is, you are a human being. Not a walking Pinterest board. Go easy on yourself. priority number one is your baby. Keep baby healthy and happy. Bond. Love. Smile. Feel. You will never get this time back and if you spend it worrying about how you look and not watching your baby grow, you will hate yourself later. Believe me. Ignore those stupid "What's Your Excuse" posts. I found this online. I think this says everything...

Lesson 3.
Also for the moms. For God's sake, woman. REST. Baby is sleeping? REST. Someone came over to snuggle the baby? REST. Dad has the baby right now? REST. Nothing is better for your body in recovery, and nothing is better for your mind in those first months. Your brain will feel like jello some days. You will forget how to form sentences. Even if its ten minutes, the dishes can wait. Take care of yourself or you are no good to baby. This carries into later months and years. You will get your stride back. You will get the hang of things. And then teething happens. Then the first serious illness happens. When your child needs you, focus on them. As soon as you can though, REST. They need you at your best.

Lesson 4.
Parenthood will be gross. Get over it now.
When my daughter was about 6 weeks old, I was changing her poopy diaper and just as I lifted her legs to wipe her little tush, she farted a projectile poop missile at me. Straight at my chest. Landed on my shirt. She has also pooped on my hand. I have gotten poop on my hand, not noticed, and wiped it in my hair. It's not just that though. There were stretches in the early weeks when my husband was at work a lot and I was home with the baby where I didn't shower for four days at a time. Eventually, deodorant doesn't cut it anymore. When my son was about a year old, he fell asleep in his pack and play and being a believer in the REST concept, I curled up next to him on the couch for a nap. I awoke about an hour later to a smell. I figured well, someone must need a clean diaper! I sat up, turned my head, and HOLY MARY MOTHER OF CHRIST my son had not only taken a massive, smooshy poo...he removed his diaper, removed it's contents, and finger painted the entire pack and play on the inside. And his adorable face looked up and me and smiled so sweetly! So happy to see Mommy! I put him in the tub and threw out the pack and play. Fast forward to toddler and young childhood years, and you will experience floods of vomit. It smells. It goes everywhere. And they are scared and sick. You will need to comfort your kids and clean up the vomit. Simultaneously. And you can't show how you feel to a scared, sick child who thinks Mom can fix it all. How about getting to pick someone else's nose? Those aspirator things only just get the boogers in reach sometimes and you have to grab it with your fingers. Yay vomit! Yay poo! Yay boogers! This is not even mentioning childbirth...

Lesson 5.
Guilt. Mom guilt is real. Dad guilt is real. One day your toddler will be driving you mad. They have dumped their toys everywhere. You are stressed from something that happened at work and as much as you try to leave it at work, you just got an email that set it off again. Your significant other is not at home. You are trying to cook dinner. Now your toddler is going for the power outlet. You say no. They do it again. You say no again. They do it again. The pot on the stove is boiling over. The dog is asking to go out. You can't do it all at one time. They go for the outlet again. You scream at your toddler. Now they are crying. Breathe. Step back. Let yourself calm down. These moments happen. Then, later on after you have made peace with the world again, snuggled your baby close, made sure they know you love them and just don't want them electrocuting themselves, they drift off to sleep. And you sit in silence and torture yourself with guilt. You will feel like the worst person in the world. The worst mom. The worst dad. You might carry it for days. I have some I still carry, and my son is 11. Here is the thing. Someone once told me the best parents are the ones worried they will screw it all up. They are paying attention. To the obvious and the not so obvious. So go easy on yourself. None of us is perfect.

Lesson 6.
Everything will change. Your life will never be the same. This is guaranteed. What you do with that is up to you. You can't make plans on the fly any more. You can't just pick up and go unless you are taking the kids with you, and that means baby bags, kids toys, snacks, bottles, extras of everything, clothes, diapers, wipes, medicines, lotions, etc. Your social life will change. Even if your friends have children already. And that will hurt. And it will also feel warm. Real life is not TV. It's not Facebook. It's real. I rarely leave the house nowadays except to go to work, and I love it. I come home at night during the week to my kids and I cannot wait to see their faces. I can't wait to cook dinner, I can't wait to curl up and watch TV. Am I lazy now or something? No. I just can't be bothered with the world when I have those sweet faces at home who think the world of me and who make my life worth living.

I didn't know who I was or what I wanted from life before I became a mom. I was not sure on many occasions if I even belonged on the planet...and I questioned that a lot. Then I became a mom and it was like someone turned the lights on. For me, it doesn't matter how many people I don't see or shows I miss. It doesn't matter how many projectile poop missiles blast out of my daughter's butt and onto my clothes, I get to curl up with her at night and make her smile and watch her drift off to sleep. It doesn't matter what silly social thing I am not being bored and awkward at because I am at home in my pajamas watching TV with my son and laughing about something no one but us would find hilarious. That to me is life. That is what I am here for. It's all worth it. You won't be prepared, even though you think you are. You will never be prepared. It will be chaos at times.

But there is such joy in that chaos.

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