Listen, there’s no way to explain what it’s like to be parents before someone puts a baby in your arms. No way at all.
Still, you would think that people who have already experienced that moment would be able to warn those who haven’t, at least about the big stuff, right?
They really don’t tell us much, and here are 16 pieces of info that really would have come in handy.
16. And yes, they mean to be.
Kids can be mean.
I dislike when someone comments, “Oh, he’s just a kid. He doesn’t know any better.” Umm, yes, he does.
Heck, even my 2 year old knows what she’s doing when she does her fake cry.
15. Are you not entertained?
That newborns and infants get bored.
They’re so small and stupid you wouldn’t think it’s possible but if they’re screaming and screaming and no amount of anything is fixing it…take them outside and show them trees.
14. It’s not the same for everyone.
That for some parents, you don’t love the baby right away. When my daughter came home I was shocked at how numb I was – don’t get me wrong, I knew all the motions, and I was a textbook “good dad” for my newborn, but at first, to me, she was a squalling home invader.
Then one day I had to take care of her all day because daycare was closed and my wife had to work. She spent 5 hours SCREECHING at me, and refused to take a bottle. Out of desperation I grabbed a Curious George doll and danced it across her rock and play.
She stopped crying, smiled a bit, and popped the bottle in her mouth. For some reason in that tiny, insignificant moment a switch flipped in me. I started loving my daughter. I thought my heart was going to explode.
Now we’re best buds, and I swear she likes me more than her mother.
13. A bunch of little lawyers.
Making rules for your kids is awful. Basically, all children start their lives as lawyers. You make a rule and they spend endless time, often unintentionally, testing every aspect of that rule.
They search for exceptional circumstances, they call on past precedents, and they poke and prod at your once ironclad system of encouragement and enforcement until this beautiful idea you had for how to raise them looks like a patchwork quilt. Or swiss cheeese. Or a quilt made of swiss cheese.
My least favorite thing to do as a parent is to have to enforce the consequences of a rule I created in the moment to deal with a problem/behavior in that moment.
I try to be pretty transparent with my kids when I make a rule and then realize it was too harsh and reactionary, but a 3 year old can only comprehend so much.
12. It’s all on you now.
How awkward you’ll feel when you first leave the hospital.
That’s the number one thing that hardly anyone discusses- everyone will give you advice about everything that will ever happen to the baby, you can read books about every stage of their life & what to expect all throughout your pregnancy but hardly anyone discussing the how to deal with the anxiety attack you feel when the nurse walks away after casually checking to see if you have a car seat.
That’s the moment that it really settles in- you’re allowed to walk away from an establishment with a life that is entirely your responsibility from now on: no pre-requisites, no fucking references, just two inexperienced human being pretending to be adults driving a brand new fragile life in a metal death trap.
11. Just try not to panic.
That when they get sick (which they will do, frequently) they get really sick.
A common cold can floor them for a whole week, they’ll hardly eat and run a temperature of 40+. It will scare the shit out of you.
Worse if you have more than one, It will feel like running an infirmary for children with the plague.
10. They are powerful.
That this tiny human can make me feel like a terrible human being or like a super hero with one look or so few words.
I never felt so good as overhearing my wife and daughter (3) having a conversation in a room without me and my daughter just out of the blue says “I like daddy”.
9. It’s unavoidable.
Nobody warned me that I would feel worried or guilty at least once every day for the rest of my life.
And scared. Scared of everything. Maybe it’s just me but I feel like parenthood is a revolving door of doing something and feeling bad about it, and scared that I’m going to get in an accident on the way to work and die, leaving my child motherless.
8. They do leave stuff out, though.
In the nine months that my wife was pregnant, there is NOTHING that someone didn’t tell us about having children, whether we liked it or not.
The minute someone finds out you’re pregnant (or even married), they immediately want to give you all of the insight that you don’t need, but they demand that you have.
7. Like…for how long?
You will never be able to sit down and finish a dinner without getting up.
And eating at your own pace also. Or eating seated. Or simply, eating.
6. It’s a whole new world.
Newborn girls generally have vaginal bleeding shortly after birth due to the loss of hormones following the detachment from their mother. Nothing like opening up a diaper and seeing blood to get you worried.
Also, newborn boys get chubbies and it is hilarious. I don’t know why but I always assumed that was something that came with age.
5. Judgment everywhere.
You will feel judged from every corner about just about any and every decision you make, regardless of how trivial it seems at the time. Friends, family, complete strangers on the street– they will all want to chime in on your choices.
“Oh my god, you’re letting your kid eat yogurt out of a tube?!?!? Don’t you know that phthalates they ingest by coming in contact with the plastic tubes have been associated with a lower rate of Ivy League college admissions?!?!?”
Parenting involves so many decisions you can’t even keep track of, but if you make some that are different from others, get ready for the judgement and unsolicited advice. Most people are just doing this to justify their own decisions, learn to deal with it and don’t take it too seriously.
4. It never ends.
The f**king dishes, man.
Every evening, cleaning bottles, breast pump equipment, and setting up the drying rack so the shit can dry overnight and be ready to go again the next morning. And getting it out of the way for bath time in the sink, then moving it all back after bath. NOBODY TALKS ABOUT THIS, and it has seriously been the worst thing about having a kid.
Late night coddling, constant attention, melt-downs, that’s all fine because you mentally prepare for having to deal with those things. But nobody tells you about having to do those dishes every night.
I got so tired of it. Second one due in May!
3. No one answer.
That even after billions of people parenting, nobody can agree on anything about how to go about it.
For just about every topic, you can find people saying going with a particular method is the absolute best thing you should do for your kid…then people that say the same method is the worst thing and will cause irreparable harm to your kid.
2. They don’t know anything at first.
I was prepared for work, time, energy, effort. I was mentally braced for diapers, rocking, soothing, feeding, burping. I was ready to give my heart, soul, and mind for as many hours as it took.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the stupid. I have a 4 month old. She has developed about as much as one might expect by her age. Which is not much. They are born knowing how to do two things: cry, and poop. No, they can’t eat, they don’t know how to breastfeed, there are no instincts there. No they can’t fall asleep, they have no understanding that shutting the hell up, closing your eyes, and relaxing is the way to relieve that feeling of tired.
Nope nope nope they know abso-freaking-lutely nothing, and you have to push through all the stupid to meet the needs that they have.
Tired? Instead of relaxing to sleep, she squirms, cries, fights, does anything to break free of her swaddle. I have no idea what she wants or what she is trying to accomplish. She will give her all to break your solution until there’s nothing left of her and she finally passes out from pure exhaustion.
Hungry? Instead of accepting the food you are literally putting directly into her mouth, she’s scream that she’s mad about feeling hungry. She is figuring out that sucking causes soothing, and that swallowing removes crap from her mouth so that she can breath, and in this she accidentally consumes some milk from the breast. It takes weeks for her to figure out that this is the thing one must do to remove that awful sensation of hunger. It’s absolutely bizarre, and a wonder that the human species can even get started against these odds.
I was mentally prepared to work, but I was not mentally prepared for how much she would UNDO that work. It’s exhausting. It will steal your soul. You will hate life. That fourth trimester was the hardest three months of my life.
1. For so many reasons.
The most terrifying sound you will ever hear is silence on a baby monitor.
Especially after they have just coughed and you sit there thinking, “was it a cough or were they choking, has it gone silent because they’re fine or because they’re very NOT fine?”
All of this would have been good info, for sure.
What do you wish someone would have told you before you had kids? Drop some truth in the comments!