There's a job that's full of surprises, mostly good but let's be real: There's a few doozies in there, too.Like the explosive poo's that come from a breastfed baby. No amount of What to Expect literature can prepare you for that one. I learned pretty quickly that two changes of clothes for baby and at least one extra, clean shirt for me was a necessity. I won't go into detail on how that lesson was learned, but honey, it ain't pretty.
Another thing I wasn't entirely prepared for was how grating a baby crying can be on your nerves, especially when you don't understand what the problem is. It takes time, practice and a lot of patience (and, OK... some Mommy time-outs) to figure out what every cry means. I was lucky in that F usually only cried because he was hungry, and if he had a dirty diaper I could usually smell him from the next county over anyway. It is heart-breaking and mind-boggling that a parent or caregiver could hurt an inccocent, helpless child but if you've ever spent three hours listening to a screaming baby, you can almost see how it gets to that point.
I'm sure that there are plenty of women who popped out a kid and just knew what to do. I had an alright idea, I knew how to hold a baby and change diapers and F knew how to grab a boob. All good, right? Yes and no. Like any skilled trade, parenthood takes practice. It's a learning experience, and the learning curve is a little different for all of us. Every bone in my body was aching to be a Mom, and while the timing and circumstances weren't exactly what I was dreaming of, I ran with it. Every day has been an experience, to say the least. I was ready for breastfeeding and being tired, but nobody prepared me for the emotional exhaustion. I was prepared to have a baby, but toddlerhood was on us before I knew it.
I imagine taming a lion would be easier than parenting a toddler sometimes. Have you ever seen a three-year-old pitch a fit? Aye-yi-yi. Did you know that just one little indiscretion can undo months of work in less time than it takes to utter the swear-word your kid just picked up? It's not all bad, though, I promise... it's just that I don't feel the need to try to gloss it all over and pretend I have it all figured out. I don't even have 1/1000th of it figured out and I think that's wonderful! I've learned more in the almost three years I've been blessed with the role of Mommy than I did in the twenty-two years that led up to F's arrival. And guess what? I don't ever want to know it all. Some of that shit (literally and figuratively) is too frightening for me.
I have learned patience and perseverance, how to be stand up when I want to lay down and how to ask for help when I need it. I've learned how to enjoy the little things, and how to laugh at the things that make me want to cry. I have learned to appreciate my body, apologize to myself and to stand up for what I want. I've also learned that I have a lot to improve on and how to go about doing so.
Parenting is an awesome thing. The moment you become a parent you are responsible for the health, happiness and care of another human being. You spend every minute of everything shaping that little person into the type of person you want in the world. You are able to sculpt a personality, mold a character and guide an indivual down their path in life. Just make sure you have a strong stomach and access to wine.