When I was expecting my first child, I read all kinds of “Getting Ready for Baby” books. They were no help.
I got home from the hospital, laid my baby on the living room chair, sat down on the floor next to the chair and looked at him.
I didn’t know what else to do.
Then he started to cry.
By the time our first escapade was over, I was crying too.
I hurried to the kitchen and put a big pot of water on the stove to begin boiling water so I could sterilize some bottles.
Do you know how long it takes a big pot of water to boil? A long time, and it’s a lot longer when there is a newborn baby howling of starvation.
I did everything wrong with that first baby.
I couldn’t figure out how to fold his cloth diapers. I cringe to think of how many times I stuck him with the pins.
Bottles and diapers were just the start of all the things I did wrong, but somehow, he survived, and I did too.
By the time my fourth child arrived, I wasn’t sterilizing anything, and thankfully had disposable diapers with no pins.
But I learned a lot along the way, and realized that the most important lessons were not mentioned in those dopey “Getting Ready for Baby” books.
Toss the books, get off the internet and tune out all those people who tell you what to do and how to do it. You and your baby will figure it out together.
Don’t compare yourself – or your baby – to anyone else. You are fine, and your baby is fine. Learning to walk or talk or use the potty is not a race. When in doubt, look at it this way: By the time your child starts school, and certainly by the time your child grows into a responsible adult, nobody will care at what age s/he learned to do those things.
Realize that each child is a unique person, with an innate, individual personality. They are not miniature versions of their parents. You will save yourself and your child a lot of heartache, grief and arguments if you will simply allow your child to develop into the person s/he was meant to be. Embrace and encourage your child’s interests and gifts.
This is one I never had to deal with (thankfully). Please, parents: Think twice about what you are posting on Facebook. Do you really want to publicly label your child as a whiner? How will your child feel when those photographs show up years from now? Are your “Facebook Friends” really your source of guidance when your child develops a rash or has a broken heart or has trouble at school? You may be one of those people who feels comfortable with putting your entire life out there for the whole world to see, but please be sensitive to the fact that your child may not feel the same way.
Speaking of technology: Yes, your child will live in a connected world. But there is real value in old-fashioned imagination. Think about that when you’re buying toys, and be sure to provide dolls that don’t do anything on their own, plain old wooden blocks that you have to stack yourself and books. Real books, with real pages. Construction paper, scissors, glue and glitter.
And now, here’s the one I learned the hard way: Everyone told me “They grow up so fast; they are children for only a short time.” But I didn’t believe it. I honestly felt like they were going to be little forever, the house would always be a mess, the sink would always be full of dishes and the hamper would always be full of laundry. Sadly, I spent more time on the dishes and the laundry than I did playing with and enjoying my children. The dishes and laundry are still there … but my kids grew up and moved away.
But there is always time for a happy ending!
My kids have children of their own now, and guess what: My home is filled with blocks and books and dolls and glitter and glue … and memories.
Don’t wait. Make your memories now.