10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Parenthood
Knowledge that comes only through parenting
Photo courtesy of Adrian H. Wood
The Wood children
I thought I was ready. I had read the parenting books, babysat, studied child development at Meredith College — even had a Ph.D., for heaven’s sake.
Well, I’ve gained insight over the last 11 years on parenting — not just when I took the blind leap into parenthood. For that matter, I’ve gathered new knowledge every day since becoming a parent. Here are 10 things I wish I had known about parenthood before I became a parent.
1. Parenthood delivers as much of a learning curve as you shall ever encounter. It ebbs and flows and morphs into a reality that you didn’t know was in the realm of possibility.
2. Parenthood doesn’t resemble what you necessarily experienced with your parents during your own childhood. No, being a taker doesn’t transform you into the giver you once took for granted. You are better off creating your own reality than spending time wistfully recreating the days of your Camelot.
3. Your introduction to parenthood is focused solely on babies and, yet, that is the shortest stage of parenthood you will experience. I think that’s why many people wistfully utter annoying but true phrases like, “Enjoy it while it lasts,” and “Childhood passes in the blink of an eye.”
4. Parenthood will challenge you to your very core. I remember thinking, quite haughtily, who would ever shake their baby? I realized during stressful parenting experiences, I might! I was not immune to the exhaustion and frustration that travels with caring for newborns and toddlers. Putting a hysterical little person in his or her crib and walking away is as hard and humbling an experience as I have encountered.
5. Parenthood spawns a ferocious heart. If you’ve ever loved a dog or a sibling, your own child will transform you into a Mama or Papa Bear so fierce you often scare yourself.
6. Parenthood should be filled with truth and laughter. Life is hard and messy and mournfully hysterical. Sharing behind-the-scenes shenanigans with others will make you laugh rather than cry.
7. Parenthood evolves so quickly; don’t get bogged down by its difficulties. As a good friend told me in those first few weeks, as soon as you figure something out, it’s no longer an issue.
8. To become a parent is to join a grand tribe. Tribal members must stick together, build each other up, cheer each other on, lament, love and sometimes just listen, but always look after one another in a nonjudgmental way.
9. “Never say never” should be an ironclad rule of parenthood. We’re climbing mountains blindfolded, after all. It’s amazing what real circumstances and little people can do to your whimsical philosophies.
10. Parenthood will naturally gobble up your time — and you — but you must remain true to yourself. You are so important and it’s easy to drown in this wonderful, new role that has jumpstarted your heart. Planning date nights and weekends away with your spouse will brighten the journey and nurture your parenting experience.
Adrian H. Wood, Ph.D., is a North Carolina writer who lives in Edenton with her husband and four children, the youngest of whom who has extra-special needs. Read more of her writing at talesofaneducateddebutante.com.