As far as life experiences go, I would say parenting is in the top 5 most stressful. From the moment I became pregnant I began mentally preparing for the moment the baby would come out (that’s another story), but somehow forgot to consider the aftermath.
When people talk about the joys of having a baby, they fail to mention the baby might exit the womb and not know how to sleep at night. In fact your baby might sleep all day to stay awake all night. You will then sleep in two minute increments at night wherein you will have nightmares that you cannot find the baby who is laying on top of you.
When he turns six months old you realize you are losing your mind from lack of sleep and read every book about baby sleep in existence to conclude that all baby sleep experts must hate each other because no one agrees on anything. Then follow the advice of a particular expert because he promises that if you follow his method your baby will actually fall asleep on his own, learn to love sleep, and sleep through the night for the rest of his life. Sold! So then you let your baby cry it out and spend some difficult hours every night for a week or two convinced that he will never stop and that you are the worst parent on the planet.
Also the controversies you may experience with other mothers who believe that placing their baby in a stroller and walking the baby to sleep is a God given right and if you don’t do it too then you must be a heretic. Nope. No one mentioned that.
What parents tell you about are the joys of watching their children gain language and laugh their individual hysterical laughs. They detail their children’s funny personality quirks, how they reach each milestone, and how they express their sweet selves. As an outsider that’s all you can see as well because babies are magic. They cast a spell that smells of sweet dried flowers and spoiled, spit-up milk mixed in a humidifier. We all fall for that.
The first year of motherhood all I could think about was the fragility of life. When my son had his first cold and the snot and mucous in his body consumed him, I watched his chest rise and fall with each breath. My own breath was trapped somewhere in my chest, overwhelmed by the frail creature beside me. Most of all I was overcome by the incredible responsibility that had been hoisted upon me after his birth. I was responsible for keeping him alive! Thankfully he smiled sweetly, created amazing sounds, and loved to listen to stories.
Life priorities neatly fell into place once my son was born sort of like the lego blocks that were soon to take over our house. My adjustment to parenthood has not been the smoothest journey, but I’m determined to see it through… hopefully with some breath and sanity intact.