I thought I’d switch things up a bit, so this post will technically be more “Things I Know About Being a Parent”. I was inspired by this blog post, in which the author talks about all the reasons you are not a terrible parent. For my part, I thought I’d share a few truths I’ve learned over the past two and a half years (my baby girl is two and a half! Holy crap!).
– In those first few months of every new parent’s life there will be moments when you break down and feel like you’re going to die. It’s a mixture of forced fatigue and a radically changed lifestyle. I myself burst into hysterical sobs a few times when I was all alone with the baby and couldn’t get her to stop crying. Don’t worry. It feels like you are absolutely going to lose your mind, but it does get better.
– Kangaroo care sounds silly and made-up, but it is remarkably soothing for both baby and parent, and I strongly endorse it. The idea is to strip the baby down to just a diaper and lay them on your bare chest (with a blanket over both of you if necessary). It has all these great physiological benefits for the baby, but it is also responsible for some of the most relaxing moments I had in those early months.
– The people and the media around you will try to tell you all kinds of things about the “best” way to feed your child. You absolutely must breast feed, and it should be exclusively the breast because bottles are bad for their teeth, and you should only give them fresh, homemade baby food, and feed on a schedule, not on demand, because you have to put that little mooch in their place right away!
The truth? The “best” way to feed your child is whatever way works best for you and your family. Some women can’t breast feed, not every family has the time or resources to make baby food from scratch, and not every child will react the same to the same options. As long as your child is happy, healthy, and growing, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not doing things the “best” way.
– Parents have to be the bad guy sometimes. It sucks, and no one likes to do it, but it has to be done. You know why? Because kids who get their way all the time become adults who expect to get their way all the time. Think about that. When was the last time you met a spoiled, entitled ass of an adult whom you didn’t want to smack the face off? Now, do you really want to be the parent of that person?
– Alternatively, pick your battles with kids, because parents should be disciplinarians, not dictators.
– Kids learn a lot from their parents. They learn to walk and talk, to recognize letters and numbers, to eat on their own and dress themselves, and a thousand other wonderful things. Do you know what else they learn from their parents? Bad habits, bad attitudes, racism, gender stereotypes, how to talk behind people’s backs, how to judge people by their looks, and a thousand other horrible things. Kids aren’t born with these things; they get them from us. Always keep that in mind.
– Your kids will drive you absolutely out of your mind. There will be times when everything they say or do makes you want to scream. This does not make you a bad parent or a bad person. It makes you human. If an adult treated you the way your kids treat you, no one would blame you for punching them square in the nose, so don’t beat yourself up for occasionally thinking your kid is a teeth-grindingly annoying little twerp.
– In a world in which every gadget comes standard with a high-quality digital camera and a thousand photos can be stored on a memory card the size of a fingernail, it’s easy to get caught up in preserving memories. The problem with this is that sometimes in focusing on preserving the memory, we fail to experience it. Take a few photos here and there, but don’t watch your child grow up through your smartphone screen. Put the cameras and gadgets away and get down on your hands and knees with your kid for a while. Trust me, they’d rather have your attention than thousands of pictures of themselves.
– Lastly, kids aren’t perfect, and neither are parents so don’t be too hard on them and don’t be too hard on yourself. The world these days throws a lot of information at you about the way things should be and the ways you can screw up, but it really just comes down to this:
Love your kids, play with them, praise them when they’re good, discipline them with they’re bad. Then love them some more. Do your best and encourage them to do theirs, and hopefully one day you’ll be able to look back and be proud of all you’ve taught each other.