What I wish someone would have told me

So my dear friend Matt is going to be a dad in less than a week. He and his wife moved here recently and have not met a lot of people and don't have any family living in the area. On top of that they are having twins....Monday. As a new dad to be, Matt has expressed his fear of being a father and being able to survive parenthood. Although I was much younger (over 10 years) when I was going through this anxiety for this first time I think that there are some things that I had to figure out the hard way that I wish someone would have told me. So for that reason (and because I love to make fun lists) I have listed the top 10 things that I wish someone would have told me before becoming a mother. So Matt, take it or leave it, here is my unsolicited advice and and my faithful 6 readers will probably have something to add as well :)

1. Babies are resilient. When you first hold your newborn you think that they are the most fragile thing that you could ever hold. While I don't think that you should swing it around like a doll or anything (and definitely don't shake it) we have to remember that they were just born. That means that they either squeezed their way through a pelvis and out a not so big hole or a doctor and team of nurses just cut a hole open through an abdomen and pulled them out. Either way they are not as fragile as you think. I was so scared when I had my first that I (or more likely someone else) was going to drop her, or accidentally hit her head on something, or her little legs would get hurt from holding them out of the way when I changed their diapers. I wish someone would have told me to relax babies are made with pliable bones that are virtually incapable of breaking and that your natural instincts will kick into gear and will protect the baby. So breath when other people want to hold your babies and relax. (BTW Emily did drop Palmer when he was 6 months old b/c she was trying to pick him up and then worried that she would get caught so she just let him go...he was fine)

2. Since you have a girl and a boy I thought you should know that from birth they are completely different creatures. Watch out for the little sprinkler and be prepared for totally different personalities. There is something to said about boys being boys. Palmer has had a concussion, stitches, and a chipped tooth. He is only two. Emily faints if she gets a paper cut and lets hope she never sees blood. Even friends with twins say that the two couldn't be more different. Celebrate their differences.

3. Exhaustion has a new meaning after becoming a parent. You thought you knew what it was like to be tired. Not so. The first few weeks after you have a baby takes you to a whole new level of running on fumes. I like to think of this as a rite of passage. We have all been there and are able to look back with warm memories of falling asleep at the dinner table. Good luck with that and if you figure out a way to lesson it I expect a 10% royalty of the millions you would make.

4. Worry is your new middle name. You never thought that how many wet diapers would be something to concern yourself with, did they burp, are they eating enough, have they pooped often enough, are they warm enough, is the car seat secure, did that person wash their hands, what if they got a cold, how is daycare going to go, are they eating enough, are they sleeping enough? Then you worry about friends, are they learning at the right pace, do they say enough words, are they safe? My mom claims that it doesn't end and that she still worries about me and on top of it my kids now to. So remember to focus on the now. I like that kids seem to come with a natural guide. In the beginning they start you out easy with basic life necessities...eat, diapers, and sleep. Gradually you grow to safety..don't put that in your mouth, don't stick your finger in that, etc. Then into social growth like don't bite your friend, share, be nice to people. I will let you know as we continue into the unknown how it is going. I suggest Yo Gabba-Gabba for help on these issues.

5. Kids should fit into your life not the other way around. Actually someone did tell me this when I was pregnant with Emily and it was the best piece of advice I ever got. She had told me that you will NEVER get your life back if you don't make it a point to help a child adjust to yours. What she meant by this was if the baby is sleeping and you need to vacuum...do it. If you start out tiptoeing around when they are sleeping you will forever have to be quiet. If instead you teach your children to sleep regardless of the noise you will be forever grateful. Remember to take time out for yourself and for time alone with Dana and find something to talk about other than the kids. OK, who am I kidding Bret and I have a hard time talking about anything else too but we still try. Besides I know where you can find free babysitting :)

6. Schedule, schedule, schedule. From eating to bed time, routine and schedule is your best friend. I am sure that I could even pull studies from somewhere that show that kids do better when they know what to expect and have a schedule. Some days it will feel like a burden but most days it will be a relief even for you to know what to expect.

7. Make your own family traditions. Bret and I both came from families that had all kinds of weird traditions. We took some of his and some of mine and the worked really hard to make some of our own. Birthdays are a great example. What did you do to make it special and what will you do with your own kids?

8. There is no right or wrong way to parent (OK maybe the crazy people who hurt or abuse their kids are wrong but for the most part). You have your kids best intentions at heart and that is all that matters. Everything else will work itself out and you will make the right choices and decisions. What worked for one parent may not work for anyone else either.

9. Parenting is the easiest job in the world...kind of. Your job as a parent is love your child and take care of them. Although it is the most demanding and hard work you will ever do it is the easiest. Loving your child from the first moment is a piece of cake. You already do. Taking care of them is the next most natural thing. You want to keep them safe, you want to provide the very best, you want them to be happy and healthy so doing it is just a matter of making it happen.

10. You get to be kid all over again only better. Things like Valentine's day, Halloween, Easter, swimming, going for walks, baking cookies, reading books, playing with cars or dolls, playing with playdoh, vacations, camping, and so many many more things are all new and you get to experience it for the first time through their eyes. There is no greater joy. The excitement and pride and memories are ecstasy.

Best wishes to you and Dana and don't forget that we are here and are willing/able to help.


Matt said...

Thanks A - I'll take most of this to heart (not sure that Easter will be particularly important to our two Jewish twins, but I take your point!)

...and what was that about free baby sitting?

Christensen8 said...

Good list...it will just get longer when children turn into monsters (I mean teenagers)! Patience is a key...do not be quick to react!