It’s a baby! The news of a little one soon to join a family most often comes with a flurry of excitement and preparations to be made. It’s a good thing you generally have nine months of prep time because these days there are announcement photos to take, gender reveal parties to plan, nursery decor to select, and baby shower registries to create – all before the everyday parenting even begins. And, if you’re really fancy, you might also need to add a babymoon to your calendar.
There are so many customs, both lovely and strange, that people do in preparation for a baby. We had our first child pre-Pinterest, so really our main baby prep revolved around the long standing tradition of the baby shower. As first-time parents, it is special to have people get excited with you in anticipation of this big change in your life. It’s also great (and semi-awkward) to open all those darling knit booties and ruffled pants in the presence of the aunts, grandmas and grandma’s friends whom you don’t even know. As an introvert, I didn’t expect how agonizing this could be. But I soon found out that all the guests made up for my awkwardness with their enthusiastic ooh-ing and aah-ing over every tiny outfit, especially if it involved a tutu.
But nestled within the baby shower scene, I found there to be some unusual practices from what I had originally expected – such as the detailed telling of birth stories, candy melted into diapers and a meal of belly-and-boobs cake washed down with fruit punch. Again, semi-awkward all around.
Something I really don’t understand though, after several years of parenting experience, is the lack of more essential gifts for parenting survival. Like batteries. Band-aids. Coffee. More batteries. More coffee. Anti-bacterial spray. Rubber gloves… Ideally, a gift basket of all these items (instead of tiny clothing made of tulle) would have surely helped with so many parenting moments that I did not expect. I mean, do you know what it’s like to have the bouncy seat run out of batteries in the middle of the night when that’s the only way your inconsolable newborn calms down? That, as well as the annoying talking toy, the baby monitor, the remote control car, the reading-in-bed flashlight, the list goes on… they all need more batteries than you thought you’d ever own.
Another thing people love to do when you’re expecting is hand out advice, both wanted and unwanted. However, some information was sorely omitted in my experience. There have been so many times I’ve wondered how I ended up in certain situations that no one warned me about. Things like…
What to do when the baby’s pacifier bounces off into oblivion and you don’t have a back-up.
How to change a diaper when on an airplane. And then what to do about the – ahem – leakage that got on your jeans.
How to fish a small Lightning McQueen – among other “precious” objects – out of a toilet bowl.
How to track down the poo in your house after you discover the toddler’s runny, leaky diaper.
What to do when a child becomes car sick all over their carseat in the first couple of hours of your 30-hour road trip.
What to do with your full Target cart and two other children when your potty-trainer needs to go immediately.
What if a kid locks himself in the bathroom, meanwhile the other kid has an accident on the floor because they can’t wait.
And my most pressing question of all…
When you discover that the bath water around your child is suddenly a brown tint, what’s first: take the child out and then clean out the tub? Or is it the other way around? And what about the rubber ducky?! Disinfect or toss it out?
And while I feel the need to apologize for so many body function mentions, it’s just reality – one of those things I didn’t expect to encounter so frequently pre-kids. Because all these scenarios have actually happened to me, at least once.
Granted, I truly appreciate all the mentions of “enjoy them while they’re little” and “you will miss this someday,” because it’s absolutely the truth. It’s just all the moments in between the enjoyable moments that I could have used more details on.
But more seriously, there are a few other absolutely incredible things I’ve discovered along the journey of motherhood that I did not see coming either.
I didn’t expect that from one moment to the next, from womb to birth, I would love someone so fiercely. I didn’t even know I was capable of love like that! But also, I didn’t know anyone could love me so devotedly! Regardless of my coffee breath or dirty hair, regardless of how inadequate I felt, to my little babes I felt like a hero.
I didn’t expect to care so much about the little things. Every single toddler word was gibberish to everyone else but so meaningful to me. And every new facial expression and spontaneous silly dance would send me running for my camera, so that I could watch and re-watch their videos while they were sleeping. I didn’t know that I could care so much about trains, or Star Wars, or unicorns, but I’m basically an expert in those fields now.
I didn’t expect the silly, weird side of me to come out so often and be embraced so well by my little troupe of kids. No one but them has experienced some of the ridiculous songs and laughter that happen on our many car rides.
But mostly, I didn’t expect that in all the training, teaching, and parenting that I do, I would be the one learning and growing the most.
For all the times I never thought I’d be doing or saying the things I do (toilet fishing and all), there are twice as many times I can hardly believe the amazing moments that I get to live: the little arms wrapped around my neck, the unexpected love notes, the hilarious things they say, their little hands in mine, the giggles over the simple pleasures of life.
The thing is, even if someone had told me all this, I wouldn’t have really understood it like I do now. Being their mom has been the hardest, yet the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t expect that.