I’m pretty much an expert since I’ve been doing this for nine months (longer, since I think gestation counts). I need to be real. Parenting is hard. It’s seriously super, duper hard. Hopefully you’ve heard people talk about how hard parenting is but, just in case, here are some issues that you will come to heads with:
Side note: If someone tells you they’re “pretty much an expert” you probably shouldn’t believe them. But, you should believe me because you trust me and you should know that I’m gonna give it to you straight. Anyway, here goes nothin.’
**First of all, I’d like to add that I am grateful that even though I sometimes keep things bottled inside of me, I can tell Wes how I feel without mincing my words. Tact is not my strong suit and I’m not working on it. I feel that when I try to say things in a way that packs less of a punch, I’m not able to get my point or the way that I’m feeling across. Wes and I have talked about all of these things (and more). **
21. No matter how old you are when you bring life into the world, you will struggle. You will struggle to become confident in your parenting technique (yes, that’s a thing). This is made even more difficult when other people -not including your spouse) are constantly questioning every decision you make (as if their opinion matters). You will struggle to do all of the 20 million things that need to get done each day. You will struggle to make sure that you’re taken care of, that baby’s taken care of, that your spouse is taken care of. I say “struggle” because doing all of these things is almost impossible. But, don’t worry, it will all even out in the end.
22. And, on the topic of spouses (this is where it gets really, really real): You will argue. Wes and I have been married for nearly nine years. We never argue. Let me repeat that: We. Never. Argue. Well, I should say we never used to argue… and then we became parents. Nothing brings out more differences in people than trying to co-parent. To add insult to injury, we come from very different ethnic backgrounds. The different backgrounds never mattered until we talk about parenting stuff. He wants to do things
the wrong way one way and I want to do things the right way a different way. Our parenting styles- while they are coming together- are quite different. Luckily for us, I stay home with the baby and Wes usually defers to me. This is usually a good thing…
23. But sometimes, I don’t want him to defer to me. I want him to make decisions. I want him to take initiative to do things such as change the baby’s diaper or play with her while I do something else or, or, or. The list goes on. But, he still can’t read my mind and I’m still annoyed that he doesn’t have this ability.
People are always so congratulatory when they find out you’re pregnant. They are sooo excited when (a lot of the time) you’re still scared and trying to take it all in. I mean, how do you prepare for the life change that is parenthood? For me, I didn’t want to hear anyone’s terrible birthing stories (and, I thought they were ALL terrible), I didn’t want to hear the “wait until you’re not getting any sleep” “jokes ” that new parents are the inevitable victims of. I didn’t want to hear any of that. But, what people don’t offer up is how freaking hard it is to nurture your relationship with your spouse and take care of your baby. No one talks about it. Except for the whole “a baby changes everything” cliché (which we ignore because…well…it’s a cliché). No one talks about how even though you love this person so much that you chose to have their offspring, you will consider what sort of drugs you were on when you came to this conclusion since you’re pretty sure it was the biggest mistake of your life. Not the baby part. But having a baby with THEM! Seriously, one day, I was just like, “I can’t believe I had your kid.” I said that to Wes. So mean, right?
I could try to blame it on hormones but that wouldn’t be entirely fair. I was having “buyer’s remorse” except I didn’t buy anything. I had a baby. But, man, for a while there it seemed like we seriously could not agree on anything. He didn’t want to do anything “my” way and I was not willing to budge. Not even a little bit.
So then people would say, “Don’t you just love seeing Wes as a Daddy?” And, in my head I’d be thinking one thing but with my mouth I’d say, “Yeahhhhh…” Except my heart didn’t believe what my mouth was saying. I would have probably loved seeing him as a Daddy but I’d pushed him out of the picture with my “my way or the highway” style of taking charge. Oopsie.
This wasn’t without reason. I mean, there was that one time that I left eight week old Laila Grace with Daddy for 30 minutes while I made a quick trip to the store (I made it back in 25 minutes!) and she started crying (because that’s what babies do). Daddy panicked and assumed she was hungry and decided feed her almond milk (yep, you read that correctly). Stuff like that made me seriously question how smart my smart husband actually was and where in the world his common sense had run off to. Or when he would allow her to cry (longer than I’d like) because he was “doing something.” Or when he would say things like “What do you want?” in an exasperated tone to her as if she were actually going answer him in a way he could understand. Those sort of things did not help the situation. It’s not his fault that I closed up. It was my fault that I operated out of fear instead of out of love. When I started thinking (and acting) as though it was Laila Grace and me against the world (I put him in the category of “world”) I knew I’d gone too far.
I didn’t “turn off” my love but I wasn’t operating in love. So that (to me) is pretty much the same thing.
Apparently, since Laila Grace’s birth, the way I receive love has changed. It’s more about the way I see and hear people treating and interacting with her than it is about the way people treat me. Except the way people treat me is still important. I want to know (and hear) that I am valued and appreciated. It wouldn’t hurt to hear that without me things would not run as smoothly. That if it weren’t for me getting up with Laila Grace during the night and at the crack of dawn (like, literally, as soon as the sun begins to peek through the sky) each weekday morning, then Wes would be almost unable to function in his job (outside the home) let alone be able to take care of his job inside the home. (It is cool that Wes has started to get up with Laila Grace on the weekends so that I can sleep in. It really has made a huge difference in my attitude. Little things like that make ALL the difference.)
For a longggg time, It seemed as though I did 95% of the (baby related) work and received 5% of the accolades. After months and months and months, I think this would start to wear on even the most patient of people. It certainly impacted me (but I also don’t consider myself to be patient except when it comes to Laila Grace).
Being a mama and a wife is not about the accolades but you must remember that I left my career (of my own volition) so I’m used to getting noticed for at least some of the things I do (usually in the form of a paycheck). Motherhood has made me invisible to people but fatherhood has made Wes more visible and more “deserving” of praise. I do thank him for working for our family to bring in income (I don’t think I do it nearly as much as I ought to), for working on the budget so that we’re still making progress on our debt snowball, for washing the dishes every night, etc. And, he is not by any means “lazy” but I guess I feel that it’s wrong for me to say that I want more. I need more. I feel like I’m being ungrateful by saying what I need. Working 24 hours a day is exhausting. And, that’s what I do: I work every hour, minute, second of every single day.
So, that’s it. As you’ve realized by now, parenting is hard. And it’s really hard when you’re attempting to do the parenting as a team who has each other’s best interests at heart. I’ve not ever seen that evidenced so it’s hard to live it out without any kinks. But I think there would be kinks even if I had seen it lived out because I’m me and Wes is Wes. We’re two people who love each other (even when we don’t feel like loving one another) and who are working really hard to become the best team of parents for Laila Grace. Co-parenting is hard but it is not impossible. It takes work. And, I know for certain that Wes and I are willing to put in the work.
So what real-life advice do you have for new parents? Is your experience as a parent something like mine or different? I’d love to hear what you have to say.