…and 20 moments that will make you forget them!
Unlike five years ago, we’re now at the stage in our grown-up lives where more and more of our friends from school/university are starting to settle down and have families. As a result, my Facebook feed is quite often filled with expectant or new parents fretting about the experience they’re about to… well, experience.
A couple of months ago, two very good friends of mine from school shared the good news that they were expecting their first child. After the initial round of congratulatory and positive messages, my banter with the man half of the couple settled back in to it’s normal routine – light-hearted mocking and fun teasing, like we always have. Thanks to my friends cocky (light-hearted) arrogance, there have been quite a few opportunities to tease him about the joys of parenthood – an opportunity I usually relish, figuring that most people will know I’m only joking.
However, after a conversation with my friend in which I realised my teasing might be a little out-of-kilter with my usual tone here on the blog, I decided I should right the balance by putting together a list which will hopefully give parents-to-be some positive to focus on.
However, in the spirit of balance (and because it makes for a better title) I thought I’d point out just a FEW of the scary things which might be worrying expectant parents – followed by 20 things I’ve learnt since being a parent, ALL (or any) of which completely cancel out the first five…
Five scary parenting myths…
I can’t speak for everybody, but here are five things that I know WE certainly worried about – and a few friends have said the same. Frankly, I could write a whole post on any one of these (and may do in future) so for now these are just a taster of my thoughts:
- Sleeping, or a lack of it. One of the biggest topics of conversation between existing parents and expectant parents is sleep – baby’s, but more importantly yours. Will you ever get a good night of sleep again? Whilst I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s a walk in the park (and frankly, it would be an insult to my wife – who has done the lion’s share of night work for Freddie) I CAN tell you that you will invariably get by on whatever sleep you do get, and you’ll soon be worrying about 50 other things. Perhaps family and friends will rally round to give you a few nights off? Perhaps your baby will sleep through the night in record time? Perhaps you’ll suddenly realise you can get by on only 4 hours of sleep a night? However you choose to get through it, you WILL get through it – the fact that other parents are awake enough to tell you how tiring it all is, and not fast asleep at their keyboards, proves that everyone gets through it one way or another.
- Breastfeeding is best-feeding. This is something I HAVE written at least one post on (as did my wife, in her excellent post “Feeding Time at the Zoo“) so I have plenty to say. The bottom line is, I have one child who was (and is still) breast-feeding like he invented it, and one who had ONE single breast-feed and never did it again, no matter what we tried (and subsequently moved on to formula after just a couple of months) and both of them have developed perfectly normally. Everybody tells you “breast is best”, but there are lots of reasons why breastfeeding might not be possible, and if that happens your child will be PERFECTLY fine. Honestly, if this is something that concerns you, go back and read some of my other posts on it.
- How do I raise my children correctly? As you’ll know if you’ve read my blog before, I’m certainly no expert at parenting – but frankly, who IS? Nobody, that’s who – we all make mistakes, we all learn as we go along and we all have regrets after a while. But when I find myself worrying about whether I’m raising my children in the “correct” way, I think of this: People have been having children for ages – since the dawn of humanity, in fact. If BILLIONS of people can do it, mostly without making major cock-ups, the chances of you doing it right are pretty bloody high.
- What if my child is really X? Again, I’m certainly no expert in this field, but I have been guilty of this one on a regular basis. Will my sons be too shy? Clingy? Boisterous? Slow? Talkative? Whilst I’m only operating on a small amount of experience (and a cognitive psychology degree…) my general feeling on this one is that your child will become what you make them. Until they head off to school, your child’s development is pretty much entirely in your hands. Want to avoid a clingy child? Read a few child development books and find some tips from other parents on how to raise a confident child. Worried they’re going to be too shy? Make sure YOU lead by example -I don’t believe any of these traits are genetic (or solely genetic) so how you raise them is going to be the major determining factor. Which is sort of scary, but also very reassuring if you think about it – YOU have the power!
- Will children destroy my social life? This one is a total and utter myth. We certainly don’t have much of a social life these days, but if I’m honest we were never particularly social to begin with. Equally, I know some parents that have a social calendar as long as your arm – people you have to book a play-date with months in advance. Children are very adapatable, and unless you become a slave to routine or suffer from agoraphobia, the only thing destroying your social life will be you…
…And now those 20 that’ll make you forget all about the first five!
In no particular order…
- Meeting baby for the first time. No amount of movie moments or stories from friends can prepare you for the joy you will feel at meeting your child for the first time. Relish it!
- The first time they bring home a drawing from school. Robert is currently bringing home at least 2 pictures each day from pre-school, some of which he has even written his name on. Each and every one is a joy to behold (though admittedly SOME do end up in the recycle bin after a week or so…!)
- The funny things they say. If you are friends with me on Facebook, I share mine quite often – kids really are the funniest people. Take this exchange from this morning: Me: “Robert, have you ever tried peanut butter?” Robert: “Peeing in it?!”. The boy is a comedy genius and he doesn’t even realise it…
- It’s easy to make them laugh. Kids are like the best audience a comedian could expect. I told Robert just now that I had the “McBurps” and he laughed for AGES.
- Those first words. You’ll wait ages for them, and once they’ve come you’ll forget about them within a week (I guarantee it!) but the first time your child utters a proper word, your heart will damn-near explode with pride.
- School plays. Remember how proud your parents were when they came to see your school play, even though it was really rubbish? Get ready to understand why.
- Toys. Especially Lego. Just wait your child expresses an interest in playing with one of your old toys, or something like Lego which you can both play with. It’s like magic!
- Kisses. So many kisses. Freddie (10 months) is currently going through a phase where he literally grabs your ears and pulls your head towards him to give you a big sloppy kiss. It’s gross and often quite painful, but every time he does it to me I feel like the luckiest dad around!
- Teaching them stuff. If, like me, you’re quite relieved not to be in full-time education anymore, you may have forgotten how delightful it is to learn new stuff. Well, just imagine how rewarding it is to TEACH stuff. Whenever I teach my children something they didn’t know, I’m reminded of how precious children are.
- Sleep – blessed, peaceful sleep. Aside from how cute babies are when they sleep, the stress associated with parenting and sleep is actually a double-bluff – it’s stressful when you’re not getting any, but when you DO get some it feels all the more awesome!
- Cute clothes. Despite my lack of interest in clothing as a past-time, even I have to admit that choosing cute clothes for your kids is excellent fun. Some people make it a veritable sport, they’re so good at it!
- That first smile of the day. Even the longest most sleepless night will be almost completely forgotten/forgiven when you see a beaming smile aimed at you in the light of the morning!
- Tantrums. Whilst I can’t guarantee this will be true in the middle of a crowded shopping centre, toddler strops are a sight to behold. I often have to stop myself from bursting out with laughter as I watch Robert fling his arms around, huffing-and-puffing at the injustice of it all. Oscar-winning performances, every time!
- Making new friends in similar situations. Unless your file-o-fax is already chock full of friends, parenting is a great opportunity to make lots of new friends – and the best part is, they’re mostly in the same situation as you, so you won’t have to worry about looking out of place.
- Snow. Snow. Snow. Remember how exciting it was when it snowed when you were a kid? Just wait until you experience the joy of taking a child out in the snow for the very first time. It’s joy squared!
- Wine / Relaxing. If, like me, you enjoy a glass of wine or some chocolate at the end of a long day, parenting makes you relish this pleasure even more. There’s nothing more satisfying than the first sip of wine after a long day of being a parent.
- Christmas time. Now granted, not everyone loves Christmas as much a I do. But if you DO enjoy the holiday season, it’s about 100 times more fun when you have a child to enjoy it with. It also lasts about a month longer!
- Sharing things you love. Now that you have a child, you get to share all the things which YOU loved as a child – films, day-trips, games and experiences. I can’t WAIT until Robert is old enough to watch Star Wars with me, for instance (his current estimate: “When I am about 8, or maybe 32!”)
- Endless free hugs. I don’t think I know ANYONE who doesn’t like a hug, and children are the BEST source of hugs that there is. I for one could hug my children all day long, if I could.
- So much cuteness. Little children can make doing pretty much anything look cute – especially your own children. Get ready to “ooh” and “ahh” endlessly at the most nonsensical things, like how cute they look when they’re puzzled, or how sweetly they look when asleep.