Don’t get my wrong. I love my son, and I love that he loves me.
I want to know when he will learn that mommy isn’t the only one in the world capable of helping him.
If he needs to go to the bathroom and Dan tries to take him, his response is usually, “NOOOOOOO. Mama potty.”
Sometimes Dan can read books and put him to bed. But most nights, as I’m hooked up to my IV lying in bed, he screams for me to read “llama pajama.”
It’s a struggle for me. I want him to play independently. I don’t want to feel like he needs me exclusively to meet his needs. It causes me stress when I’m trying to make dinner and have to put down everything to wipe my kid’s ass.
I know that everyone says to enjoy it because soon enough they won’t want anything to do with you. But really?! The constant-ness of “mama mama mama mama mama mama” isn’t enjoyable, any more than watching your teenage son walk by you wishing he would just stop and give you a hug and tell you about his day.
Congratulations! You’re pregnant. In a few short weeks (they’ll seem shorter once you have a kid), you’ll be blessed with a screaming, pooping, bundle of joy.
There are lots of things you’ll hear over and over from those of us who’ve been there (and maybe even from those who haven’t but think they know a lot about having a kid). You’ll experience love like you never knew was possible (it’s true). The first few weeks are hard. Trust your instincts. Blah, blah, blah. Parenting is hard. H-A-R-D. There’s a reason, beyond the financial of course, why millions of moms keep their jobs! And there’s so much that people don’t tell you, probably because at this point, you’re pregnant, and there’s no turning back! Also, we’re a torturous people, and we like to watch others suffer through the same misery. Preparing you wouldn’t be any fun, would it?
1. You’ll be tired beyond what you ever thought possible. Were you thinking that those late night study sessions in college were for learning? Nope. They were preparation for parenthood so that when you are up at 3:14 for the sixth night in a row, you aren’t totally unprepared for what the depths of nighttime looks like! Walking from the library to your dorm in pitch blackness is nothing compared to stumbling down your hall, trying to find the pacifier between the crib and the wall, and trying really hard not to turn your brain on too much lest you find yourself unable to go back to sleep as you work through your mental to-do list.
2. Breastfeeding is hard. It might be natural, but for a lot of women, it feels anything but. If you are planning on breastfeeding, great. Just be prepared that it might not come as easily as the books suggest it should! And trust your instincts. If you think your child isn’t getting enough food, it’s possible they aren’t. As I finally learned, formula isn’t poison and in fact can save lives! Also, if you are ever planning on giving a bottle, introduce it early. I have never seen nipple confusion but I have seen a number of babies who wouldn’t take a bottle EVER. That’s a solid year not being able to go away from your child for more than a couple of hours.
3. Don’t overdo the nursery! I bought a very nice Restoration Hardware crib. It’s beautiful, really. BUT… I could have spent far less and still had a nice place for my son to sleep! They all end up chewing the crap out of the side anyway! Kellen moved into his other room at 15 months as well, which made the purchase seem even more ridiculous! I would save your money for decorating once they are a little older and in their room a little longer (or you convert the nursery to their bigger kid room).
4. Your hormones will be ALL OVER THE PLACE after you have your baby. If I thought crying when a contestant was kicked off American Idol was bad, it was nothing in comparison to the roller coaster that is the first few weeks post-partum. I brought Kellen home and created a schedule so that someone was always awake with the baby because I was so afraid he would stop breathing. It was totally irrational. You too will probably be totally irrational and paranoid. It’s normal.
5. Sleep is the most important priority of your life. I don’t care how you get the child to sleep (upside down is probably a bad idea), let them sleep. Kellen slept in his car seat for upwards of four months. And in his swing. And even once in the jumperoo. Hardly in that expensive crib.
6. Consignment sales are your friend. Start looking for mom-to-mom sales now and stock up. Your kid is in clothes for such a short period of time. I have found nicer clothes at the consignment sale than I would have if I had just shopped at Gymboree (though I won’t go into my despair at the fact that my dog ate Kellen’s cutest sweater this weekend). Also, your house will be overrun with baby crap. It’s almost unbelievable to walk through our house and imagine that we lost everything two years ago because there is CRAP everywhere (and our garage is full with clothes bins and toys).
7. I guess I should speak to the actual birthing part. It hurts. Your water might not break until well into labor, and you’ll be lucky if it doesn’t. And epidural is your friend. There is nothing heroic about natural childbirth!!! (I would know. I went nearly the whole way without an epidural and had it turned on for a mere 10 minutes before I had to start pushing. If I had gotten it earlier, I might have been rested so I could push!) If you have a birth plan, plan for your birth to go exactly the opposite. Honestly, be flexible. All the things they say in a natural birthing class sound wonderful. Until you actually have to have the baby.
That’s my best advice in general with parenting. Have an idea of how you’d like things to go, sure. But prepare to make adjustments as you go, knowing that every kid is different. Anti-TV? You might be… until it’s 4 in the morning and you haven’t slept in three days, and you know if you put on Baby Einstein on Repeat Play (the show might not make your kid a genius, but the creators sure were!) and put the baby in the pack n play, you can sleep for three more hours. Anti-candy? Just wait until it’s time to potty train and that’s the only thing your child will respond to!
And stay off the internet. It will only make you paranoid
Kellen’s first parent-teacher conference was yesterday. He’s only been going to preschool for two weeks, so it was a little silly. But it still made me feel all… parenty.
Unfortunately, since starting preschool we’ve seen a backslide in the potty training. Where he once was telling us he needed to go, he is now content to pee his pants and THEN tell us. (He also was pretty impressed with himself when he peed in the shape of a circle on my hardwood floor.) So we created a plan for when to take Kellen to the potty. The kid is a schedule freak. My genes were strong ones, apparently. He never has an accident before swimming because he knows that’s when he goes. So we’re trying to create the same environment at school. I refuse to return to diapers.
Kellen likes his teacher and frequently checks in with her. This doesn’t surprise me. He likes approval from adults and wants their attention and praise. I repeated several times during our half hour visit that I understand Kellen because he is JUST like me.
Miss Rose also said that Kellen is very detail-oriented and observant. We’ve noticed this at home as well. While perfectly content to make a mess, he likes things in their place and will often go fix something he thinks is out of place before moving onto another task. And the fact that he’s so observant is one reason we’ve pushed to have him around older children. We want him emulating behaviors of older kids more than younger ones. Miss Rose echoed that same feeling, saying that he was a child who seemed to be better suited to be the younger child rather than the older one. While it may seem ridiculous for us to be thinking about this when he’s two, the fact that he has a late September birthday has made deciding when to start school trickier. Because of the Montessori path, he will likely start Kindergarten at 4, almost 5, instead of 5, almost 6. That can always change, but for now, that seems to be the path we are on.
Overall, we are just so proud of our little boy and continue to celebrate his accomplishments.