Before I had my daughter I thought that I had parenting all figured out. I had watched friends and family have babies and I thought to myself “Surely there is an easier way to do ____” or “When my baby comes I will never___”. Fill those blanks in with the most cockamamy of notions because I had many. All as ridiculous as the last. So I composed this list to both make fun of my moronic pre-baby mindset but to also issue a heartfelt apology to anyone who had a baby before me.
Here is the true testament to my disillusions.. I apologize in advance for my foolishness.
Illusion #1: I’ll probably be up for a late night out with lots of wine about a month after the baby is born. After all, I haven’t gotten to drink in 9 months so it will be time to celebrate!
A month? O-N-E month? I don’t think I could have even told you what day of the week it was one month after our baby arrived. I was rocking sweatpants morning, noon and night and the notion of leaving the house to even visit the doctor was overwhelming. And the idea of leaving our baby? No way, no how! I didn’t even like walking out of the same room as her so clearly leaving her was out of the question! And as long as I am confessing here, I haven’t really warmed up to the idea of leaving her for a big night out 6 months later which only further confirms my foolishness. It’s all for the best though as my new idea of a fun Friday night is blissfully watching my daughter play.
Illusion #2: I am so fast at getting out the door myself, it won’t be that different with a baby.
I used to be able to boast that I was low maintenance and could get out the door to any event in 30 minutes, or often much less. Now I know the lengthy order of events that occur before leaving the house is ever feasible. Has the baby been fed? If the answer is “no” then you can start the timer at 10 minutes or longer (and I have a FAST eater). Has the baby been changed? If not, add anywhere between 5-20 minutes depending on the contents of the diaper and whether or not an unexpected but yet very mandatory bath is required. Is the diaper bag properly stocked? Add a few minutes there. Do I look presentable? Vacillate between leaving the house looking like a zombie or spend a few minutes sprucing yourself up…10 minutes. But guess what, now the baby is unhappy to have been neglected while you were primping in the bathroom so you pick up the baby and bounce-until-happy. Add 15 minutes. Finally everyone is happy. You look acceptable and you can start to think to head towards the door. Insert diaper explosion and you are back to the beginning. Long story short, I know I need at LEAST an hour of prep time to get myself and the baby anywhere these days. And that “being on time” is a fluid concept.
Illusion #3: My house will always be clean, I’ll always be able to workout and I’ll always be able to have dinner on the table because I’ll just do those things while the baby is napping!
What great ideas! I wonder why all new mothers don’t have a spotless house, timely dinners and daily exercise? Oh, haha Sarah. Because (as fellow moms know) it simply doesn’t work that way. Because in my case, my baby will not nap unless it is on my lap or chest or the very rare fell-asleep-in-the-car-and-is-still-sleeping-in-the-car-seat phenomenon. During those rarities I pace around the house not sure what to do with my “free time” until I frantically start doing tiny tasks. In those moments I really feel like I am living life on the edge! How many more mini-tasks can I accomplish until she wakes. And often I spend so much time trying to figure that out that I squander my time.
Illusion #4: Car rides, even long car rides, are easy with a baby. They just sleep, right? And you can just pop them out of the car seat to feed them during a long car ride without ever stopping!
I hang my head with shame for this one. What an idiot.
Now I understand. I understand that a car ride with a sleeping baby is like hitting the MegaMillions Jackpot and a car ride with a sad or tired or hungry baby claws at your heart. I understand the paranoia of making sure the buckle on the car seat is safe and secure and that her seat is tightly popped into the base in the car. The idea of removing her from her seat while the car is in motion brings a lump into my throat. How could I possibly have thought it could be any other way? It is true what they say, having a baby changes everything.
Illusion #5: That mom who is weird about letting me touch/hold her baby is uptight and too over-protective!
This one is the essence of my biggest anxiety as a mother…trusting anyone else other than my husband with my baby. I never understood before having my daughter that handing your baby over to someone else..anyone else…can be like handing over your heart. You think to yourself be so, so careful, be so, so gentle, anticipate her needs but of course you can’t say that every time you let someone hold your baby or they will think you ARE uptight and too-over protective. I remember once years ago at a baseball game I tickled a baby as he leaned towards me over his mother’s shoulder and I was baffled when the mother turned around and gave me a dirty look. I remember thinking it was a bit over the top when new mothers weren’t lobbing their new babies around to everyone at family parties. But now, I am that mother. I am assuming now, if those mothers were anything like me, having so many people touch, bounce, and get-all-up in the face of their baby put anxious butterflies in their stomachs and big lumps in their throats. This is one reason why I have started to wear my baby at large events…so that I can actually relax. Maybe it is uptight. Maybe it is over-protective. But I get it now.
Long story short, having a baby really does change everything. And luckily for me, it cured my preposterous notions.
What are some crazy notions you had before becoming a parent? Let me know in a comment below!