When you announce that you’re pregnant with your first child, the universe changes. Among the congratulations and well wishes, a door is also opened. That door says, “Hey, anyone who knows anything at all about being a parent, please share all your knowledge!” The advice seems to come in all forms, from all directions like a wide-open fire hydrant. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how you should parent your child.
I know, because I do the same thing. But how do we manage all of the advice coming our way? Not to mention most of the advice is worth what I’m paying for it…nothing.
That sounds a little harsh. What I’m trying to get at for any future parents is to beware. You have to be very cautious to the advice that is thrown your way, and you have to do what is right for your family.
We have learned this the hard way in the past 21 months (including our pregnancy). We don’t simply accept advice as truth, but when it’s coming from those around you and those who are close you, you have to at least acknowledge that these people have gone before you and you are heading into the unknown.
For example, I had a friend encourage me to get as much sleep as I could before the baby came, because I would need it. I’m a morning person, so sleeping in really isn’t in the cards for me. Just can’t do it! Sometimes I want to, but my internal clock says no. Plus, you really can’t bank sleep anyway. But I got what he was saying. “Heads up, dude, you don’t have any idea what it’s like to try to operate on less than ideal sleep, or to be awoken at any time throughout the night.”
I’ve talked to that friend recently and admitted that he was right. Not about the banking sleep, but about the warning of getting less sleep than normal. Sleep deprivation is a very real thing, and it has a whole lot of backlash in and of itself.
When Rooney was born, we were totally caught off guard with how terrible we function when we don’t have a full night’s sleep. I don’t know for sure, but I think it must be like being on Survivor or something. You hardly get any sleep, you forget to eat sometimes and there are surprises around every corner.
The thing about parenting is every child is different, so while there is some staple advice that applies to most situations, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all manual for parenting. We’ve had to come to terms with the fact that as parents, we will be living one big experiment for the rest of our lives. Even when we are empty nesters and our little girl is having babies of her own one day, we’ll have to figure out how to be the best supporting parents we can be so that she can be the best parent for our grandchildren.
We’re constantly questioning ourselves, but we’ve also settled into a nice rhythm. Knowing there is rarely a right answer and not taking ourselves too seriously, we’ve learned to not beat ourselves up with the petty things. We have a healthy, happy baby, so we must be doing something right, right?