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Dear Parents-to-Be: Nothing Will Prepare You

admin March 17, 2016

Recently, we had some friends over for dinner.

They’re a young couple, and they’re expecting their first baby in a few months.  They were clearly interested in our children, especially our youngest (who is 9 months old, and whom they hadn’t met yet).  They had the wistful expressions of people who are not yet parents, but are looking forward to being parents, especially when they saw our baby asleep on a chair — head tilted back in adorable surrender.

The guy said, “This is what we have to look forward to!”

So many thoughts ran through my head.  Yes, and They’re completely, amazingly, unbelievably adorable and They’re more frustrating than anything you have ever experienced.

I realized that, the truth is, there is nothing I can say to someone who isn’t a parent to help them understand what is about to happen.  Nothing.

There are so many “letters” out there to these parents-to-be, that purport to prepare them somehow for parenthood.  It’s not possible.  Thus, this letter.

Dear Parents-to-Be Nothing Will Prepare You pinterest

Dear Parents-to-Be: Nothing Will Prepare You

Dear Parents-to-Be,

I see that you are eagerly awaiting the arrival of your first baby.  I was in your shoes, almost 9 years ago.  I found out I was pregnant in May of 2007, and wow — what an exciting time.  I went back and forth between utter elation and ohmygodwhatdidido.

My husband’s reaction was a little different.  He was mostly worried.  He wondered how we’d pay for everything, and if he’d even like the baby — because he didn’t like anyone else’s babies.  He warned me not to make him hold the baby right away, and give him time to get used to the whole thing.

(Fast forward 9 months, and he jumped right in because I was exhausted.  Fast forward 18 months after that, and he was impatiently sitting at my side as I nursed our brand-new second baby, asking, “Is he done yet?  Is it my turn to hold him?!”)

At this point, I know what you’re thinking.

When you see someone else’s baby or kid doing something cute, you melt — you can’t wait to experience those moments with your own baby, which you assume will be precious.  (They will.)  What you don’t know is just how deeply you’ll feel about them.  They will be the absolute center of your universe in a way nothing else is.  You’ve probably heard that — but just wait.

When you see someone else’s baby or kid doing something annoying, you think — my kid won’t do that.  Or maybe, I’ll handle that differently and get a better result.

(Cue all current parents’ laughter.  We all once thought that.  Sorry to burst your bubble.)

Here’s the important part.  Nothing will prepare you.  No matter how many books you read, or how many kids you’re around, or how many tips, secrets, and tricks you learn.  Having your own baby is an experience that’s completely unique, that you can’t understand until you’re there.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t prepare — read some books, ask some friends, get an idea of what it might be like.  It’s helpful to understand child development a little bit, so when your kid seems to go haywire (and they will, at some point), you’ll know it’s not just them — it’s a fun and exciting feature of kids that age.

(My 3-year-old is currently obsessed with the word “butt head.”  I have heard “I love you, butt head!”  “Stop talking, butt head!” and “I’m Fireman Butt-Head!”  Daily.  Is ‘butt head’ rude?  Sure, I guess.  But he’s 3, he thinks it’s a big joke, and someday he’ll outgrow it.  You’ll understand eventually.  It might not be calling everything ‘butt head,’ but your kid will do something interesting.)

Ultimately, though, the only way to learn to parent is to do it.  Not even babysitting, nannying, or being involved with siblings will prepare you.  Nothing.  I mean, those things will prepare you for the basic daily requirements (how to keep them from killing themselves, changing diapers, feeding them) but it won’t prepare you for how you feel.  It won’t prepare you for staying up at night, worrying about them.  It won’t prepare you for how you’ll make the big decisions, like which wisdom you’d most like to impart when they’re young and still think you’re the center of the universe.

What’s even more important is that you’ll feel uncertain and like you have next to no clue what you’re doing the whole time.  At least with the first kid.  As soon as you think you got it, they will change it up on you.

If you ask me how stuff works with the 3-and-under crowd, I will be happy to tell you everything — my fourth child is 3, so I have “been there, done that” enough times that there’s very little they can do to surprise me.  (My 3-year-old sure tries, though.  A lot.)

With my first kid, and to an extent, my second — no clue.  We’ve just hit 8 with my oldest and saw some fun new behaviors starting.  After chatting with my friends whose oldest kids are also 8, we came to the conclusions they’re all doing the same stuff!  I don’t know how to handle 8-year-olds any better than you do right now.  And I’ll keep learning how to handle each year as it comes.  I’ll keep messing it up on my first kid (sorry).

Every parent is flying by the seat of their pants, hoping for the best, praying they don’t permanently screw their kid up.  They’re experiencing the highest highs and the lowest lows.  They’re saying and doing things — both good and bad — that they never imagined doing.

All you can expect is that it won’t be boring.  I promise. 🙂

Enjoy the ride, new parents-to-be.  It’s a great one.

If you’re a parent, what’s your best advice for parents-to-be?

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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