There are a lot of things that people don’t tell you about being a new parent. Most importantly though: nobody knows what they are doing, we all make lots of mistakes. No matter how together another parent may seem, we all get covered in puke and pee and tears at some point.
Besides that, here are a few other parenting skills to look forward to learning:
10. All about poop
Maybe people have mentioned how many dirty diapers you’ll change. But what they might have omitted is how obsessed you’ll become with poo itself. The frequency, the color, the texture, the amount, the signs of impending poos, the “I’m sitting in poop” cry, and more, so much more. It’s a lot. And you’re gonna learn all about it. Enjoy!
9. How to do things one handed
Even when babies are in carriers you often need one hand to hold a bottle in their mouths, or you can’t do the activity you need to do because having a person strapped to the front of you prohibits it (think – washing dishes: the baby takes up the prime real estate of where the washing takes place). Often, the babe is held in one hand, and the jar needs to be opened with the other. When you figure it out, you’ll feel like a superhero, which is absolutely correct. Being a parent is being a superhero. Remember that.
8. How to Nap
At first, you may be so exhausted that not falling asleep at the will become impossible. Once you’re over that hump…actually, I don’t know what happens after that. I’ll let you know in 18 years. Napping becomes a necessity. Your body is gonna find the sleep it needs, even if it is wedged between the exersaucer and the stove for seven minutes while someone takes the baby to press elevator buttons.
7. How to pee with the door open
Or peeing while nursing. Or pulling your pants down with one hand while holding a baby in the other in order to pee. Lots of awkward things like this might happen. Sometimes things that you might have thought were unthinkable are, in fact, done without thinking. Activities may combine in ways that have never occurred to you, let alone thought desirable or appropriate. And when you see yourself doing them, it is going to be – fine.
6. That your baby is going to love your body
Seriously. Pay attention to this: your baby LOVES your body. They love the wobbly bits and the knobbly bits and the hair and the feel and smell of your skin. They have no interest at all in it being smaller or tighter or prettier. They want to blow raspberries into blubber. This new little human who is ruling your life thinks that all the parts of your body are exactly awesome. Just, try to remember that?
5. How to walk down stairs backwards, without holding on
Terrifying? Yes. Terror is a common parenting emotion. Eventually, stairs fascinate the wee one. You will figure out how to not kill either yourself of your child whilst walking down stairs backwards, watching your child and where you are stepping, holding their hands, and not a railing. Not terrifying to you? Cool! Betcha your babe will find something that is. Parenting teaches you about fear – living with it, laughing with it, and still doing the thing that scares you. Did I mention that parents are superheroes?
4. To move breakable objects at the speed of lightning
Learning to move breakable objects just before your child gets to them becomes yet more proof of what essentially amounts to telekinesis. Sometimes, it’ll be so fast that your Great Aunt won’t even notice her teacup is gone, or that she ever had a pair of glasses to begin with. Remembering to give them back to her, however, or where you put them…well, all superheroes have flaws don’t they?
3. To talk to strangers
Bus stops, coffee shops, your front porch, anywhere and everywhere (not to mention the awkward social spaces you voluntarily enter to entertain your baby) become fair game for people to comment on your baby, your parenting, and your life choices. It’s like all that “don’t talk to strangers” stuff we think we need to teach our kids has to be paid for by us talking to the strangers (if our kids don’t talk to them, who will?). So figure out some response, or let it rain awkward.
2. To say no
Being a new parent is a great time to hone this skill. Having a baby puts needs sharply into focus. If someone wants something that you don’t have in you to give, saying no is not just healthy, it’s survival. This is a great life skill, and although parenting is a whole bag of challenging, getting good at saying no can have great rewards everywhere from your actual social life to how often you need to see that needy neighbor/cousin/houseplant of yours.
1. To say yes
Connected but in opposition to the previous point, saying yes to help is so important as a new parent. Straight up asking for it can be a lifesaver. We used to raise babies as an actual village of people, and now we do it in tiny concrete boxes in the sky. Help is good. Other people can hold your baby while you shower/sleep/cry/do the dishes/go out/whatever. Being a new parent is a great time to check in with yourself on your ability and willingness to reach out – it isn’t taboo, and let me be clear: other parents needed help when they started. It is hard! I’ve learned a lot by asking for help and I think the world is a better place when we are more honest about our needs. So do the superhero thing, and make the world a better place. It’s your job, turns out.