I thought it would be easier for me to connect with and parent a little girl. I was wrong. I simply can’t imagine anything more wonderful than this little boy, and the joy and connection was so strong I was immediately proven wrong on that theory. I have never loved anything like I love him. Gender never mattered.
That’s just one of the many things Mrs. Always Right was wrong about when it comes to parenthood. Here are nine more:
One: Statistics say….
I was fond of spouting phrases like that before I got pregnant. Statistics say we had a 10% or less chance of getting pregnant on the first round of IUI. And then we did. Statistics say most babies aren’t born on their due date. And then ours arrived smack in the middle of his. Statistics say few women get mastitis, and only 5-10% of those worsen into a horrifically painful abscess….see breastfeeding bullet below. Let’s just say, we are flouting the statistics.
Two: Investing in a Roomba would be the best thing ever.
Actually, I was right about that. But I completely underestimated the power of time-saving technologies. Thank Jebus for Grub Hub, an espresso maker, Instacart, baby-monitoring cameras, Feed Baby (an awesome app that makes coordination between multiple caregivers MUCH smoother), Google, Amazon Subscribe and Save, a million parenting websites, and others. Our parents may have done just fine without all these things, but parenting in the modern world definitely has its perks, and I’ve taken full advantage of them.
Three: Watching my wife parent would make our marriage even stronger.
Don’t get me wrong, she’s a great Mom, and an amazing wife. But the sheer exhaustion and life changing nature of new parenthood exposes the cracks in a relationship. It does not fix it. So don’t go having kids to save a marriage okay? Make sure your marriage is solid first so that you can weather the storm together, as we have (so far), and be a solid foundation for kids.
Also, I’ve found keeping a sense of humor and focusing on all the amazing things my wife is and does helps me to be less of a nagging, crazy, spouse. At least, I’m trying, ok Lady?
Four: Parenthood will be more difficult than rewarding.
I’ve heard it said that parenthood is 90% shitty and 10% pure bliss. And all the parents commiserating about how crappy raising kids can be is truly en vogue right now – the internet is rife with memes and blogs and videos about it. But I absolutely love it. After all, I chose this gig. I planned it and I fought for it and I love every sleep-deprived moment of it – and the moments I don’t love I choose not to complain about because this parenthood thing isn’t something I’m a victim of.
Or perhaps I’m finding it to be so much more rewarding because I have an amazing support network of people (especially my Mom and my sisters) who make the overwhelming nature of new parenthood that much easier. They’ve helped me get sleep, clean house, get out with my wife, manage baby’s first cold, and so much more. And watching them love my son is one of the most magical things I’ve ever experienced. Not only do I love him more than I could have imagined, I love them even more than I ever have.
Five: We figured out breastfeeding.
I even wrote all about it. And then karma bitch slapped me with a case of mastitis. Most painful thing I’ve endured yet. And then it developed into an abscess. If you want to know what that entails (READ: worse pain than labor) Google some pictures of that and then consider what my doctor said: “That’s the worst one I’ve seen in years!”
Now, a month and a half later, I’ve been exclusively pumping as I healed, and just this week I tried breastfeeding again, fully expecting my little one to reject me in favor of the bottle. And he didn’t. So we’re wading into those waters once more, but with a lot more humility and diligence and quiet resolve than before.
Lesson learned: don’t EVER say you’ve got it figured out. Which leads me to:
Six: We’ve got timing down when it comes to getting out the door.
Insert hysterical laughing emoticon here. Yeah right…tell that to my father-in-law on the day we were leaving for the eclipse at 9 AM and actually hit the road at 2:15 PM. I blame it on a doctor’s visit (thanks mastitis you effing a-hole), an epic blowout through every level of the car seat, prescribed antibiotics being unavailable at my pharmacy, and a number of other comedies of error. Luckily the eclipse was still days away. And on that day the timing WAS perfect.
And it gets easier. Getting out the door with a new baby is intimidating – and the more we practiced the easier it became. Until we flew across the country with a 4-month-old, which was as intimidating as the first time. And you know what? It worked out just fine. Next time will be even easier…right?
Seven: Going back to work would be hard.
Emotionally, going back to work wasn’t as hard as I expected. PHYSICALLY, however, it’s absolutely exhausting. Parental leave in this country sucks hard core – and it all but ensures that new parents remain less productive, less competitive, and less able to be the best parents they can be. I wrote my Congressmen about that, but as conservative men I’m sure they’ll completely ignore me.
In fact, by the time I started my slow transition back to work (part time over 4 weeks) I was getting antsy being at home. I love my time with my little, of course, but I also love my work. It probably helps that, thus far, I’m leaving my 4-month-old with my wife or my mother, and taking him to “school” (daycare) just one half-day a week. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to drop a 6-week-old off at daycare like so many women have to do. I’m so lucky, and I know it. And that homecoming to my sweet, smiling baby boy is AMAZING.
Eight: I can still do (music, nonprofit work, insert other activity here).
Let’s just say that I can’t – at least not yet. For one thing, I only get a few hours a day with my little guy, before and after work, and I’m not really up for spending those precious moments anywhere but with him. Maybe that will change someday, but for now, I’m really glad the music thing fell apart and that I had the foresight to hand over the reigns to a new president at FoGSL, and that otherwise I have every reason to simplify my life, guilt-free. Cause I barely have enough energy to work full time and be a Mom – I can’t even bring myself to go to yoga yet! We’re getting out to some social events, but if we missed one of yours, please don’t take it personally! We’re just not who we once were…
Nine: My entire life would change.
I was right about this in general. I knew it would, but I was so wrong about the sheer scope of how much it would change. No one could have ever told me either. If you’re looking at parenthood now, there’s nothing I can tell you to prepare you. You’ll find out soon enough. But one thing I knew all along: It is worth it.