So, in keeping with the mantra that you’re going to screw up your child at some point, let’s delve into Part Two of: Parenting is Hard.
No Two Parents Parent Alike.
Parents are like snowflakes. Unique, interesting, and when you get too many of them together they will ruin everything. Enter Facebook. I post A LOT of things about my son. Like, multiple posts almost every single day. I can’t seem to stop myself. Jack is still new enough and cute enough for 80% of my friends list to put up with it. Which is very kind of them. But also, very terrible for me. You see, the drawback with sharing my son with so many people every day is that I get ALL the “helpful hints”, “parenting hacks”, and well…MLM sales pitches. I get the DM’s, the texts, and the phone calls. They all pretty much start with, “I know you’re trying your best BUT”, which actually means, “Ignore everything I just said in front of the but because this is how I really feel”.
Look, I get it, I’m a new mom, I’m a clueless mom, and I’m an oversharer. I am a prime target for all the things BUT, I am not an idiot, I will allow my baby to watch bilingual cartoons even though I’ve been told TV will rot his brain (El Perro y El Gato is where it’s at y’all), and I AM NOT GOING TO BUY YOUR OILS (please stop trying to convince me they’ll heal my child’s kidney disorder, they won’t).
When A Baby Cries, Time Becomes Sort of Wibbly Wobbly Timey Whimey Terribly Terribleness
Nobody told me this when I was pregnant, (probably because they were all too busy laughing at me), when I would adamantly pronounce that if Jack was fed, clean, and safe, he could cry until the cows come home because I wasn’t going to raise a spoiled baby. I WAS SO WRONG.
When a baby cries, you get sucked into some sort of time vortex that would take Steven Moffat an entire season of Doctor Who to explain. It literally makes no sense at all. Your little bundle of joy is laying down peacefully for a nap and you just get comfy on your couch with a hot cup of coffee, that’s when you hear it. That slight little whimper coming from the nursery. Your survival instincts take over and just like with a T-Rex, you know that if you move a muscle that baby will sense you and it’ll all be over from there. So, you sit there, frozen in fear, when the second louder whimper happens, followed by a loud demanding bellow for freedom. Could be a bad dream, you tell yourself, I’ll give him five minutes to settle down. But at the two-minute mark, you have literally aged ten years and your once perfectly made hot coffee is now cold enough to sink the Titanic. You have entered the Crying Baby Zone, where time doesn’t make sense and you’re perpetually exhausted. I swear, a baby’s cry triggers some sort of paradoxical universe where time slows to a crawl and speeds up all at the same moment.
Your Body is Fine, Even Though It’s Not and Never Will Be Again
While pregnant, we accept that our bodies are obviously going to change. I was five weeks preggo when I first noticed stretch marks in my armpits. So you know change is happening and you tell yourself that after giving birth to that bundle of joy you’ll get your body back (eventually) and all will be well. Right? Wrong.
I have stretch marks in places I didn’t even know could get them. Besides my armpits, I have stretch marks that run from the top of my breasts all the way to my knees. ALL. THE. WAY. Imagine my surprise when I could finally see my downstairs again and saw that it had acquired a few new marks. I was horrified. I cried. I had a planned c-section, so I know nothing down there stretched, but yet here we are.
It’s not just the weathered map of marks on my body or the deflated balloon I now call my abdomen, it’s also my super painful lower back that feels like I’m getting poked with hot needles whenever I try to sleep. It’s my right foot that feels like a tendon is being pulled tight with every step I take.
It’s waking up at four am every night and sleep eating all the sweets I can find in the house. It’s shedding hair like a golden retriever in the middle of Spring. No one told me about these potential changes, probably because I was already pregnant and in it for the long haul regardless. I’m told the sleep eating and the shedding won’t last forever, but at six months postpartum, it feels likes it’s been years.
You Will Completely Change Your Life and How You Live It
This one was a toughy for me. I feel like people tried to tell me that my priorities would change and to a certain extent, I believed them. I mean, I was having a baby obviously, my priorities would change. Even while I was on maternity leave, all I could think about was how excited I was to go back to work. Until I went back to work and that very same week my baby got super sick with RSV. That’s when it hit me, I didn’t want someone else watching my kid, I didn’t want to be away from him, and even more shockingly: I was over where I worked and what I did for a living. The gossip, the hours, the compassion fatigue, all of it. I had a kid at home that was facing at least two kidney surgeries and I couldn’t have cared less about who said what about me while I was out on leave.
Quitting my job to be a SAHM has allowed me the time to care for a baby that has a nephrostomy tube, something I would have constantly stressed over, letting someone else care for and keep safe. Being a SAHM has allowed me to pursue my dream of being a writer. Being a SAHM has taught me that parents who stay at home with their kids all day deserve respect because it’s not an easy job. Although, being able to wear my PJ’s all day is a huge benefit and my co-workers are big fans of naps and snuggles, and they rarely ever smack talk about me.
Parenting is like running a tough mudder event. As soon as you think you’ve conquered the last hellish obstacle you come upon a newer even worse obstacle mocking you in the path. The newbies all clump together and use teamwork to get over or around the muddy waters, and the professionals all openly laugh as you try to get through it without crying. To the newbies reading this: you’ve got this and you’re amazing. To the professional’s reading this: you’ve got this and you’re amazing, but try not to be too smug when you see me using an entire package of wipes for one blow out.
For me, being a parent is a blessing and a real eye-opener. I truly never thought I would love being a parent as much as I do and I genuinely feel blessed every single day for being able to be a Mom. But damn, parenting is hard.