I went into parenting not really knowing what to expect. I had our first baby a couple of months after I turned 21, so I consider myself to be a young mom. I read a few parenting books and gained advice from my parents and my husband’s parents so I understood the logistics of raising a baby and parenting (AKA- I knew all there was to know about keeping a baby alive while under my care).
But there were many other things I didn’t realize I would encounter in parenting and, well, when I encountered them along the way, I was a bit “shocked”. Have you ever had a moment like that in parenting? Where something happens and you’re left asking yourself, “Is that normal? Is my child normal? Am I doing this parenting thing “right”?”
Here is a list of things that made me feel like I was parenting wrong but, in talking with other parents, I realize these are completely normal (as weird as they may be).
Kids make a lot of noise. 24/7. This one may seem like a no-brainer but I honestly had no clue just how noisy they can get. Trying to respond to all loud noises will do nothing but leave you feeling very similar to a boomerang or yoyo. There are happy noises, afraid noises, sad noises, silly noises, noises just for the sake of being noisy, and any combination of the aforementioned. The noises come when you least expect them (like in the middle of the night when you are trying to sleep) and when you least want them (like when you are on the phone… especially when you are on the phone… kids have a radar that goes off whenever their parents pick up the phone). After a while, I learned to tune out all of the non-emergent noises as a means of self-preservation.
Kids are funny creatures. Their sense of exploring and wonder are ever-present from the time they wake up until the time their sweet heads hit the pillow at night. The other day I discovered my one year old brushing his teeth in the toilet. Was I shocked or disgusted? Nope. Instead I was thankful that I had just cleaned the toilet the previous day. I also found my curious one year old eating food off the floor from under his high chair. I’m thankful for two things: 1- our one year old has awesome survival skills in seeking out his own sources of food; 2- I figured now was as good a time as any to prepare a snack for all of the kids (and also sweep).
Laundry. When we had just one baby and I was working full-time, I didn’t catch the hype parents had surrounding the mystical “unending laundry”. After all, my family of then-three only went through two loads of laundry each week. Totally manageable. Fast-forward to today (family of seven) and this is what you get: piles and piles and piles of laundry. I’m blessed in that I now have main floor laundry, right off our living room, so at least our piles of laundry are clean (unless there is a stomach bug outbreak… that can take days and days to catch up from). Finding time to match socks or put away laundry? Yeah, I still haven’t mastered that one. But at least the laundry is clean, and that is half the battle, right?
Kids are nothing but germ-balls. I swear that all it takes is one trip to Target and we are sick with whatever is currently going around the area. When it comes to my kids being sick I’ve discovered two things: 1- stay away from Dr. Google (Google can turn a normal head cold into an incurable disease that needs immediate medical attention); 2- the nurses at your clinic’s nurse advice line and the Poison Control Center are your BFFs. (We had a child who went through a phase where she thought toothpaste was an excellent meal option. Needless to say, her infatuation made for many panicked calls to the PCC.) Calling these numbers will help avoid many late night trips to the ER and will also bring you some much-needed peace of mind. (FYI- the PCC phone number is 1-800-222-1222… I may or may not have that one memorized…)
When I became a parent, I kind of become a mini-hoarder. I find myself justifying keeping every single thing that is a memory of my child. Coming-home-from-the-hospital outfit? Keep. Those little pieces of paper your child adorably scribbled on and gave to you when they were two? Keep (and date). Your baby’s first hair cut clippings? Keep. Your child’s teeth as they fall out? Keep. Finger smudges on the window? Keep. Blurry pictures of your child on your cell phone? Keep. Fingernail clippings?
Keep Ok, I suppose that is one part of my kids I’m willing to let go.
And speaking of pictures… I am a “digital hoarder” and have literally thousands and thousands of pictures of my kids. Blurry ones included. I take pictures of everything. Pictures of the kids sleeping, playing, throwing tantrums (future black mail?), eating, bathing, riding in the car, picking their noses, the list goes on. Before I had kids, I may have found it annoying to see a bazillion pictures of my friends’ kids plastered all over my Facebook newsfeed. But now that I have kids? I’m totally “that mom” and I unashamedly share many pictures of my kids on Facebook. I’m doing everyone a favor because they’re the cutest kids to ever walk the earth, right? 😉
I also find myself dreading milestones with my kids. The ones I have the hardest time with are putting my babies into larger-sized clothes and diapers, my baby taking his/her first steps, the first haircut (because it instantly makes my little one look ten years older… good thing I
hoard keep their sweet first haircut locks), and their first birthday. All of these things illicit large amounts of crying and huge amounts of chocolate (I never realized how many pounds of chocolate are required to make it through motherhood). Our babies really do grow up too fast!
I was shocked at how complete my heart feels. I never realized there was someone missing from our family until they placed that new baby in my arms. When I was pregnant with our second child, I didn’t think I could possibly love another child as much as I loved our first. I learned that love does not divide, it multiplies. Our growing family is growing not only number-wise, but heart-wise. My heart truly is full! I never expected my days to be so full. Sure, there are days that drag on and seem unending (anyone else count down the hours and minutes until your hubby comes home from work??), but there are more days that seem to fly by in the blink of an eye! Spending our days learning, singing, playing, crafting, and exploring can make hours feel like minutes. On days where my kids are gone, I usually don’t know what to do with myself. Besides cleaning and napping, obviously. 😉 These little people sure do grow on a person. When they aren’t here, it just seems unnatural.
The joy that comes with each new success. Seeing our kids grow and learn new things on a daily basis is so incredibly rewarding. Watching their faces light up each time they master a new skill is priceless. Whether it is something small like learning how to feed themselves, to learning their ABCs, to riding their bikes, to learning how to interact with others (“No, sweetie. It is not ok to punch your brother just because he is not listening to you.” I may or may not have had that conversation yesterday with my five-year-old at a restaurant).
Some things in parenting you simply have to learn on the fly. And that is ok. Parenting is a weird experience in that millions of people have done it, but no experience is exactly the same. So no, you aren’t normal. Your child isn’t normal. There is no “normal”. If you ever feel like you are doing this parenting thing wrong, you aren’t. I promise. 🙂
What weird things have you encountered in parenting that you weren’t really prepared for? Feel free to share below!