It’s easy to gaze into that beautiful newborn face and imagine all of the beauty and horrors to come. Will she want to go to college? Will he be a daredevil, coming home with broken bones? Will she have good friends? Will he be good to his big sister? There’s so many questions, so few answers and nothing but a lot of time in which to explore all of the possibilities. The good and the bad. However, even when your thoughts turn to the bad, you may not have considered the following when it comes to real world parenting.
Newborns Don’t Reciprocate Much, Some Teens Don’t Either
An excited new parent may feel a bit of a letdown if they expect their newborn baby to give much back. While there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that compares to holding a newborn infant (oh the warm fuzzies!) you may not even get your first smiles until 6 to 8 weeks in. Of course, you shouldn’t take it personally (of course you do!) but in the case of the unhappier of baby’s, the lack of reciprocation can be extra hard on your happy-go-lucky newborn parenting drive. Just hold on Mom’s and Dad’s. Believe me, when those smiles come, this problem takes care of itself. You’ll be fine until those teen years. Then you’ll likely find yourself remembering back to the time when your baby was a newborn and you wondered if they loved you until they smiled. You’ll have to grit through this one too, they do grow out of this particular phase (usually) twice.
You Won’t Really Know if You’re Doing a Good Job
With so many parenting types out there, you may not even be able to gauge your own style appropriately. Even worse, if you aren’t socially active, you may not be able to gauge anything at all. And let’s face it, one of the downsides to new parenthood is definitely the lack of social engagement you’re up to, especially in those early days. Let’s not fool ourselves though, even if you leave the hospital with your newborn, as a newly formed social butterfly, you’re still going to have doubts. Even if your mother-in-law is a neonatal physician who tells you everything looks perfect. Even if your brother is a child psychologist who assures you that you haven’t managed to cause lasting damage in the baby’s first week, you’re still, still, always going to have doubts. The worst part? That will never change. You have to just keep trusting your instincts, growing and learning from mistakes, and as always, hoping for the best.
You Will Never Acclimate and You’ll Never get Used to the Fact that You Can’t
As soon as you think you have a handle on this newborn thing, your baby will turn into another person, with newer, previously non-existent needs. The quiet sleeper could morph into the hyper-aware yeller and there’s going to be days you’ll be certain someone snuck a totally different baby into your infant’s body. This will happen thousands of times just in the first few years. Then one day, you look up and you have pre-teens. About the time you think you have mastered every phase of growth, they’ll grow again, and for a while you’ll feel the same way you felt the first day you came home with your first newborn baby. Clueless, terrified and looking for any instructions you can find. You’ll never get used to seeing your children act out in unpleasant ways. The worst part here? It’s those same moments that perpetuate that niggling doubt about your parenting skills. Expect to see those about every other day once your bundle reaches their teens.
The truly good news in all of this is that the old adage definitely applies here. What doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger. And the experience you have as a parent is absolutely, unequivocally a large portion of where you’ll get all that wisdom when you’re older.
The worst parenting news ever? Grandparenthood is 10x’s as terrifying as parenthood ever was.