Once upon a time, before I had my son, I had a lot of opinions on parenting. I said some adorable things before having a baby that now makes me laugh. Becoming a parent is humbling.
Here is just a small selection of things I previously thought (and that I still hear from folks who don’t have a baby):
Having a dog is good preparation for having a baby, right?
We had a dog together for five years prior to becoming parents. And yes, dogs require you to “puppy proof” your house, constrict how long you can be away, and increase the responsibility load.
But it’s nothing like having a baby, and having a dog in no way prepared me.
My dog, unlike my baby, got the sleep thing pretty quickly. My dog can be left home alone. The dog wants food, water, walks and a soft place to sleep. The baby? Sometimes I have no clue what he wants.
Obviously, everyone knows caring for a human baby is much more work. BUT, the workload and how much you care is so significantly different, that fur babies just don’t prepare you (or at least they did not prepare me).
Babies only cry when they need to eat, sleep or get changed, right?
I’ve known one person with a baby like this – a friend calls them “unicorn babies.” Most babies cry for about a million reasons, which can include boredom, being surprised, wanting to be held, gas, or overstimulation. Sometimes you just have no clue.
Even when you do know the reason, it can be harder than expected to remedy. For instance, if they are tired, you still might struggle to get them to sleep. Which brings me to:
I will never sleep train or I will never co-sleep
The sleep deprivation is unlike anything you will have ever experienced. You just can’t know until you are in it.
Getting sleep is usually a pretty high concern for most parents in the first year (or beyond). Ultimately, you may adjust your opinions on sleeping methods once you are in the thick of it. So if your baby sleeps the best co-sleeping…well, then you might turn to co-sleeping.
Breastfeeding is free and easy
There may be times that breastfeeding is easy (you don’t have to pack any bottles and formula) and technically it might be free. But breastfeeding takes a lot of time and effort and is far from easy.
My breastfeeding class highlighted breastfeeding is wonderful, natural, and nutritionally beneficial. When I actually started breastfeeding, I had quite a few surprises.
Breastfeeding felt constant and limiting – I was glued to the couch, and rushing between nursing sessions to get things done. It gets better, but in those first few weeks its startlingly.
I’m glad I breastfed, but it was not simple or easy, and I ran into so many fewer complications than other friends.
This isn’t a list of reasons parenting sucks – it’s a list of common misconceptions. When you enter parenting thinking babies simply cry because they are hungry, tired or need a diaper change, you quickly start feeling like a failure and falsely assuming everyone else has it together.
The majority of us (all parents of non-unicorn babies) struggle. When you become a parent, and you run into roadblocks, it’s not a sign you are a bad parent. You aren’t broken. Your baby isn’t broken. Parenting is simply hard. That perspective – that our struggles don’t mean there is something intrinsically wrong with us, can help us as we journey through parenthood.