- Your child will never sleep, therefore you, poor soul, will never sleep again.
- When that little squish pops out of you, they actually sleep a lot. Yes, it’s exhausting and sleep only comes in a few hours stretches at a time- but you’re a new parent, therefore you have nowhere else to be. When the baby sleeps, you sleep. After the first few months, your baby should be sleeping longer stretches. It’s scientific and it’s healthy. Sleep training is not horrific and damaging, it’s actually good for your baby because they need help learning how to sleep just like they need help learning how to eat, walk, and talk eventually. There are hundreds of methods and coaches, and success stories of parents who didn’t feel like they tortured their baby at all. In fact, most people say that it’s hard at the moment, but ultimately worth it in the end, because both the parents and the child are happier and more well rested. I wanted to sleep train, and the way we did it was fairly unstressful, but there are people who choose not to try, and that is totally fine too. But if you’re wondering if it’s impossible for your new baby to sleep, the answer is no. Two books that were invaluable to me when Seb was born for so many reasons, but especially sleep, were Bringing Up Bébé and The New Basics.
2. Forget about showering, getting ready, and working out- basically anything that involves taking care of yourself.
- This one really bugs me, because it implies that we are incapable of adapting to new situations. Yes, the new baby requires around the clock care. Yes, the baby wants to eat constantly. But that’s why God created pacifiers. And Rock n Play’s. And spouses. Were there days as a new mom that I forewent a shower in liu of wanting more sleep or cuddle time? Yes. Are there days that working out with a baby doesn’t work out? Yes. Reasonable expectations are an incredibly important part of motherhood, but so is figuring out how to prioritize. For me, the best way to ensure I can accomplish what I want to do is to pick two things that are most important for me to do that day. That way even if I have a hard day and can’t accomplish most of my to do list, I can at least feel good about those two things.
3. You will always “love every second” with your new baby.
- This phrase nearly destroyed me at a time when I was resentful that Sebastian only wanted to sleep on me. Or when I wanted to sleep- but he needed me. What I took that little maxim to mean was that I would enjoy every second. With every beat of my tired heart, I love that boy more and more, but I do not “love every moment” spent caring for him, because sometimes love is painful and hard, and that’s how you know it’s love.
4. My kid won’t do that.
- I could go into this very deeply, with very specific examples involving my sweet son trying to claw a little girl’s eye out at church who was 1/3 of his size, but I’ll spare you the mortifying details. Very simply, approach every mom with the gentleness you would want to receive, because little Beau is going to shit in a strangers purse someday and you’re going to be really grateful if that woman has some understanding.
5. I won’t mess up.
- I was talking to my therapist once and I casually said something about not wanting to mess Sebastian up. She stopped me and said “whoa, whoa, you will mess him up. You’re human, we all do things that will affect our children negatively, so let’s just approach this realistically.” I nodded and shrugged and mumbled something like “oh, yeah, definitely….”, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I realized I did have the expectation that if I closed my eyes and scrunched up my nose and made sure to limit screens, I would successfully not wound Seb in any way. Realistically, I can only do the best I can and being honest about my shortcomings, present, and future, is probably the best step I can take.
6. I must figure out the one, right way to do things.
- When it comes to parenting, I have realized that everyone has lots of opinions. Your friends, family, experts, pediatricians, your mom’s friend Beth who talks too much, your neighbor, the mechanic fixing your car. The attitude that helps me is realizing that people are usually proud of their ideas and accomplishments, and telling you their advice is more about them than it is you. Also, when you hear things like “this is a MUST have!” or “this is the ONLY way to potty train” or “if you don’t get this brand of diapers you will regret it forever”, it helps me to remember that people only know what they have done. They feel like the nipple-shaped bottle is THE ONLY ONE YOUR CHILD WILL TAKE because it’s the only one their child would take. We all speak from our own experiences, so don’t be afraid to make your own.
7. Baby first, always.
- My husband and I went to see the new Star Wars movie 10 days after Sebastian was born, and we left him home with family. There are a lot of things that change when the baby is born, but I’ve always tried to remember that there would be no Sebastian if there wasn’t a Maureen & Eric. Naturally, 98% of our time is spent caring for his every need, but we have also attempted very intentionally to teach Sebastian the concept of “wait” so that he knows from a young age that not everything is about him.
8. I always have to be there.
- I work two days a week, and the time that Eric spends alone with Sebastian every week is invaluable. Eric teaches me things about parenting constantly. He taught Seb how to sleep, how to “cheers” with his cup, and how to go down the slide. The time Seb spends with other kids while being watched by other friends and family has helped immensely with his social skills. Don’t get me wrong, it is so hard for me to be away from him, and truthfully it never gets easier for me. I have found that although I could be with Sebastian every moment of every day, we both are better people when we spend time away, whether it’s a Mommy-goes-to-work day or a Mommy-goes-to-Target-by-herself-to-smell-the-candles afternoon.
9. If it’s happening now, it will happen forever.
- I can’t count the number of times that I have been in a terrible teething week, sobbing on the couch, asking myself why I didn’t enjoy the non-teething days more. Or the time that Sebastian stopped eating anything but cheese and pouches and I was convinced he would be a picky eater for life. Whenever such a stage passes, I shake my head in wonder that I was silly enough to think it would last forever. The feelings are valid! And so are the fears, but I could tell you one thing, it would be that most of the things your child will go through, good and bad, are just a phase, so just hang in there.
10. Bottles are the devil, breastfeeding always feels wonderful and natural, I won’t have to Google everything, my kid won’t have food on his face at all times, I won’t feel helpless and lost sometimes, I can do this alone.
- I couldn’t decide on just one, so I threw them all in. But most importantly, you are not alone. I have gained the world from being vulnerable to the people I trust and asking for help, guidance, or coffee when I needed it.
You’ve got this.