What I Didn’t Know

The funny thing about parenthood is how much people will tell you before you become a parent (a lot) and how much you’ll actually listen to (not a lot, if you’re me).  It’s not that I didn’t know that having a child would drastically change our lives as a small family, but the ways it changed weren’t quite what I expected.

Late nights will be a thing of the past.  For a while, I thought that once the newborn stage was over, that we’d go back to our old routine of staying up fairly late (midnight or so), but even when we were getting a decent amount of sleep again (HALLELU) our night-owl routine never settled back in.  Now, we’ll go to bed an hour or two after our daughter.  And she goes to bed around 7:30.  On one hand, maybe it means we don’t know how to have fun anymore…or maybe now that we’re not starved for sleep, we value every minute of it we can get.

 Fun things aren’t effortless.  The first time we took our daughter out for popsicles, she wailed and sobbed.  These popsicle things were cold and she did not like that!  Even now that she’s become the popsicle queen, fun things still take effort to make them fun.  There’s so much emotional choreography that takes place in order to make something fun; we talk about what’s going to happen (and not happen) at the children’s farm with the goats, we prep for brunch by reminding her that we’re going to do some sitting and patient waiting for our food; I remind her that the when we get to the pool, sunscreen has to happen first.  The things we once took for granted (we can’t take the goats home from the petting zoo, we have to wait for our food to be served, sunscreen happens before we get into the water) are taken for granted no longer.  Everything is prepped.  Everything is explained.  We enjoy ourselves, but there’s a lot of work that goes into that enjoyment.

Not all children sleep in the car.  I sure did (and still do when I’m a passenger; I’m out like a light if given the chance), but some children just don’t, and no amount of well-intentioned advice about getting my child to sleep by taking her for a trip around the block would change the outcome (a lot of screaming, and sadness from all parties involved).

You will buy that brand-new baby food processor from the nice lady on Craigslist…and then you, too, shall become the next nice lady on Craigslist trying to unload an unused baby food processor.  Sometimes, you can have the best intentions, and make an effort, and still, things just don’t work out.  In my case, I wanted to make my own baby food purees when my daughter transitioned to solids.  It just never happened.  I was always tired (imagine that!) and as much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it after long day piled onto long day.

But really, even if I knew every single one of these things going into parenthood, I would still find myself surprised again and again by other things.  Parenthood has been full of ups and downs, and huge learning curves.  There are things I thought I knew, that I didn’t, and things I never thought I could handle, which I have easily managed.  Maybe you can be prepared to parent, but I don’t think you can ever fully be prepared for what it means to be a parent.  Parenting, the action is one thing, but being the parent, the state of being — that’s another.  A wonderful, crazy, confusing, lovely other.  So here’s to not knowing things.  Cheers, y’all.

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