There is a laundry list of things no one tells expectant parents. Maybe this is because soon to be parents, in their blissful naivety, dismiss a lot of what is told to them. And while I was certainly guilty of letting a lot of “advice” go in one ear and out the other, I know that there were some things no one even bothered to tell me.
1) Your child may not nap. People go on and on about how tired you will be as you will be up all night with your newborn. OK, this is to be expected. It’s part of what we signed up for as parents. But, what everyone neglects to tell you is that your child may also not sleep during the day time either. I always just assumed if she was up at night, she would at least sleep during the day. Nope.
2) Even once you establish good sleep habits, they are not here to stay. You will have to re-sleep “train” your child constantly. I promise that as soon as you get on a good 3 nap routine, your little one will be ready to drop to 2 naps a day and so on. Plus night sleep will be disrupted by growth spurts, vacation, increasing independence, having broccoli for dinner… who knows. All I know is that sleep is one of those ongoing challenges as a parent that you just don’t see coming.
3) It does not get easier. It gets different. Easier in some ways, harder in others. But, you never settle into a peaceful state where you start to think, “Yea, I’ve got this.”
4) Guilt is unavoidable. So is worry. You will worry about things you had no idea you were even concerned about. And you will do things daily that will make you feel like a horrible person and parent. Some of it will be justified as we all make mistakes. A lot of it won’t be. But, you will worry and feel guilty regardless. It comes with the territory.
5) People will judge your parenting. And you will judge theirs. It is almost as if it is a reflex and we can’t help it. I do believe that most of these thoughts come from a good place and we all have the best interest of all of the little people at heart. But, we still do it.
6) You will have moments where you day dream about your child free life. This does not mean you would give your kids back. But, you can’t help but remember what it was like to actually eat your food without getting up to change a dirty diaper or get someone a drink or clean off their hands before they get cheese sauce all over the couch.
7) You won’t always like your kids. Love them yes, but that is not the same thing. There are going to be days when you kid will be a whiny brat for approximately 95% of their awake time. And this will be the same day that they will spill sunscreen on the carpet, refuse to nap and hit their older sister so hard in the forehead with a My Little Pony that it leaves bruises. And you will, in that moment, not like their behavior or enjoy their company. But, you will still love them.
And there are some things people do tell you, but that you can’t even begin to comprehend until you are there. Such as how much you can love a little person. How your life truly does become second place to theirs. And how their hurts and their joys become your hurts and your joys. It is indescribable.