On Being a Parent: My Guide Book

It happens to each of us when they hand us those squirmy wrinkled little balls of blubber called newborns, we immediately become parents.  There is no class.  There is no manual.  There is only whatever YOU have done to prepare yourself for the nanosecond that your child is handed to you and becomes totally and completely all your problem.

I always wanted to be a mom.  I mean I love kids.  Always loved babysitting and never minded changing diapers.  Watching and playing with kids was always so much more fun than work.  My attitude was very much ‘how hard could it be?’.  Like seeing someone with a hysterical baby in the line at Target.  Something inside my pre-parenting brain always made me look at the offensive child’s parent out of the corner of my eye to see what kind of neglectful idiot would take such an obnoxious child out in public.  That’s right.  I judged.  But in that nanosecond I could no longer cast that sideways glance…cause it was bound to happen to me someday.  As much as I always wanted to be a part of the club there was no way of ever knowing just how difficult it was going to be.
So I went back into my archives to figure out just what (if anything) I had learned over the past 12 months, hoping to impart on you faithful readers some of my Mama wisdom.  P.S. If you click on the ‘titles’ they will take you back to past blog posts of mine.  
Month One – Sleep is for P@#$ies – That’s right.  Who needs to sleep?  Those first few days home are like the first few days of a love affair.  You’re so cuckoo crazy about this new little person that you can’t bear to be apart from them for a second, let alone close your eyes, for fear of missing some precious moment between the two of you.  And then, the oxytocin wears off and you’re just frakking exhausted.  At this point ‘They’ tell you to sleep when your baby sleeps.  To take it easy, leave the house disgusting and don’t worry about showering.  ‘They’ are stupid.  There’ll be plenty of time to sleep when you kids go off to college.  Do ‘They’ care that they don’t have any clean underwear?  Do ‘They’ think the dishes are going to wash themselves?  Maybe ‘They’ have a Rosie the Robot like the Jetsons to do all their work for them?  I think ‘They’ need to grow a pair…or maybe ‘They’ have kick ass MIL’s.
At least someone was sleeping
Month Two – Breastfed Babies Should be Fed BEFORE Going into Public.  This is a practical issue that Mamas with formula-fed babies don’t even remotely have to consider.  They whip a bottle out of their diaper bag and BAM! Instant calm.  However a Baby on the Boob needs to have a full stomach before you attempt any manner of errands big or small.  Their little baby stomachs are only the size of their fist.  They need to be fed constantly.  So you better have a pretty tight grocery list together too.  The days of lingering in the International Food aisle and browsing soup labels for the least amount of sodium are over.  This lesson was learned the hard way.  Literally whipping out the boob in the shoe department at Meijer.  It could have been worse though, at least there’s a bench in the shoe department.  And when I got home I STILL didn’t have everything we needed for the week.  Probably forget something essential like toilet paper. It does get better and eventually you can go out for longer and their little tummies can hold more, but really, always wear something that always you to easily access the Boob.  I’m still wearing nursing bras…
I will be pissed if I don’t eat soon…
Month Three – Cloth Diapers Rule.  No, really, they do.  You’re already doing laundry.  What’s one more load every other day or so?  And there are so many options in the cloth diapering world I’m still trying to figure out why in the world anyone uses disposables.  Oh, wait, right, cause of the billions of dollars in marketing that the diaper industry spends every year to get us to use these obscenely expensive little earth destroyers.  But I digress.  The cloth diaper world is pretty damn addictive.  They’re constantly adding new patterns and colors and technology.  And yes, it’s a piece of fabric that covers your child’s ass and collects their waste, but they can be sooooo damn cute.  And you know what, even with my slight obsession with fluffy butt covers, I have spent less total than I would have spent in 6 months last year.  And I’m done.  I don’t need any more diapers for Cedella and hopefully can use her first ones for Baby #2.  How cool is that?  Imagine what you could do with all that extra diaper money…  
GroBaby & Sofie what a crunchy combo
Month Four – Always Wear Stretchy Pants on the Train or else you face a big old disaster when you try to pull up your pants while holding your infant in a moving vehicle.  This one would have been really helpful to know before getting on the train with Cedella by myself.  But now you can apply this to your own travel adventures.  Other helpful travel tips?  Check out how to install you car seat in a cab on Youtube before you go.  Get a map of whatever public transport you’re going to be using and make sure you locate all the handicap entrances and exits, otherwise you’ll be carrying your child, diaper bag and giant stroller up and down several flights of stairs.  Don’t plan on visiting the zoo when it looks like it’s going to rain.  Protest marches can be a fantastic learning opportunity.  But really, the most important tip?  Don’t schedule too much, relax and have fun.       
Taking some time to just relax in Chicago
Month Five – The Bathroom is no longer Your Sanctuary.  It’s sad but true.  What used to be a lovely place to go and get some quality reading done or grab a quick game or two of Jeopardy on your iPhone, has now become the room you spend the least amount of time in.  There is no loitering allowed.  Hurry up and do your business cause if you’re in there too long someone WILL interrupt you.  And well, that just sucks.  There is no privacy here and poop is now a regular topic of discussion between you and your husband.  Whuck?!  That’s right.  Sexiness and mystery have left the building and have been replaced by flatulence and a constant need to say “TMI”.  

Month Six – Camping with a Baby can be Fun.  And if you plan it right, you know, like weekend full of thunderstorms, your child may sleep through the night for once.  We thought our tent was going to float away and/or be struck by lightning, and Cedella slept through the whole damn thing.  Could have been all the fresh air or having a busy day full of new experiences.   Maybe she just really digs storms.  As long as you come prepared to keep the baby occupied and safe and again, not do too much, then your camping trip can be pretty damn cool.  Really it’s never too early to get your kids into nature, right?
All the fresh lake air makes me sleepy…
Month Seven – Martha Stewart can Suck It Cause Nobody’s House is THAT Clean.   Really…this probably doesn’t need much more explanation than that.  Your baby is only your baby for such a brief time.  Are you going to remember how little dust were on your bookshelves or are you gonna remember the first time you took your baby to the beach?  What’s it gonna be?  I’d rather have a messy (not disgusting but messy) house and tons of great memories of spending time with my kids.  All that time cleaning you could be spending teaching your child to love the outdoors, develop their imagination or just be silly and dance to the Beastie Boys for a little while. 
Making memories at Lake Huron
Month Eight – Your Child is the Cutest Child in the Entire World and no one can ever take that away from you.  Also, you take much better pictures than the weirdos at Sears that charge you a pint of blood for each half decent shot.  A baby is going to be way more comfortable and smiley with you than with a stranger in a strange place.  So while I’ve seen some beautiful baby and family pics done by real photographers (that I’m sure cost more like a liter of blood per excellent shot) the best photos of your child are the ones you take when you’re just enjoying each other and not forcing something to occur that just isn’t gonna happen.  

Month Nine – Your Birthday and all Subsequent Holidays are No Longer About You and that’s ok.  Cause it’s your baby’s first everything and it’s your 32 time around this track.  Besides, who wants to have a party when you’re turning 30-something?  That’s not worth celebrating.  You know what is?  The first time your daughter has a donut.  Now that is milestone.  32…not so much.  And don’t worry that your family people don’t notice you or say hello when you come into the house.  She’s kind of a big deal.  Just think of it like being the mother of Lindsey Lohan Brittany Spears Miley Cyrus Selena Gomez (she’s still a virgin right?).  Cedella is a super star.  Glad I learned this already, to save myself years of embarrassing myself trying to steal her spotlight (a la Mrs. Lohan, Spears & Cyrus). 
  
Mmmmmm…Donuts.
Month Ten – Mamas Need Friends Too.  Life as a SAHM in a new city is lonely.  You need need need need NEED to have people (preferably women) to talk to.  You need someone to connect with, to commiserate with, to suffer and triumph with.  I can’t even remotely believe it took this many months in the trenches before finding someone to hang with.  Just because you’re a Mama doesn’t mean you have to stay locked up in the house and never have a social life again. I am so thankful and happy to have met Leslie and her beautiful baby Anna.  I can’t imagine how crazy, fat and bored I would be without them!       
Month Eleven – Christmas Morning is for Starting Traditions.  Those things we do each and every holiday, whether it is the food we eat, the activities we do or who we spend our time with, had to start somewhere.  Those traditions started with your grandparents, your parents or your besties choosing to make something their own.  We’ve taken from these things to make our own Christmas.  Cutting down our tree, decorating it while listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas album, making Breakfast pizza and opening gifts in our jammies.  These are our new/old traditions.  The ones that we hope to continue for many many years to come.  Adding more traditions as we add more children, as they grow older, as we move through this life.  These are the little things that make our family Our Family.  
Christmas Morning Pajama Family
Month Twelve – Parenting is a Constant Work in Progress.  If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned this.  You are always changing, you are always growing, you are always having to readjust and relearn.  The trick of being a parent?  Being fluid…going with the flow.  And more important than anything else, take the time to step back and breathe it all in cause if ‘They’ are right about one thing (and that’s all I’ll give ‘Them’) it’s that time does indeed fly.

Comments

  1. Teresha@Marlie and Me says:

    You summed up new mommyhood really well!

  2. Christine says:

    I loved this!

  3. musicfrombigpink says:

    Love it! Love it! Keep going. I want more!

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