I went to a baby shower today and guests were asked to write down parenting advice for the expecting couple. I love this idea because I think new parents can learn a lot from those parents who have paved the way before them; even from parents like myself who haven’t been playing the game for too much longer but have made a few mistakes and overcome some challenges.
I didn’t end up writing anything down because I was holding Nugget the entire time, but on my drive home the boys fell asleep and I had some time to think about what I would have written down. What could I say to an expecting couple, whose eyes are filled with visions of tossing balls and adorable little onesies? Who are reading parenting books that give ridiculously impractical advice like “make sure to invest in a wipe warmer, God forbid something less than a balmy 98 F should ever touch Junior’s bum”; and who are quite positive that if you sneeze too hard while holding the baby you’ll smoosh him? What could I say to them that I would have wanted to hear when I was pregnant with my first? This is what I came up with:
To the Expectant Parents,
I am the most tired I have ever been. I cannot remember a time when I was this sleep deprived. Maybe on occasion in college due to one or two nights out. But I have to say- staying up all night drinking is a whole different kind of tired from staying up all night with fussy babies and preschoolers who refused to eat dinner because it looked “gross” and have now decided that 3 am is the most appropriate time for 15 snacks and an in-depth conversation about the legitimacy of Transformers.
My house is the messiest it has ever been.
The laundry is never done. Ever. Like seriously never. At this point I am pretty convinced that the laundry basket has somehow developed the ability to multiply laundry. I’m not sure who wears all of these clothes because I will wear the same pair of stretchy leggings and a nursing tank for 3 days in a row, but there is always laundry in the basket.
My life is crazy. Sometimes funny crazy, sometimes crazy-crazy, but mostly it’s just chaos.
I talk about poop more than I ever imagined. And after two kids and house-breaking two dogs it’s not even a big deal. My husband and I have had in-depth conversations about our children’s bowel movements OVER dinner. Who does that?! Parents, that’s who. If you had told us on our first date that in exactly five years from that day we would be married with two kids I would have believed you (yes, our first date was that good). If you had told us on our first date that in exactly five years from now we would, without hesitation or pause for decency, have a conversation about poop while we ate dinner I would have punched you in the face.
My car is a mess.
I find toys everywhere. Every. Where. And rocks and bugs and wood chips for that matter.
I spend an inordinate amount of time wiping fingerprints off of objects, removing rocks from the house, explaining why we cannot bring bugs into the house, and telling the children not to wrestle the dogs.
I can never find anything when I need it, and I always have at least seven socks that have no matching partner at any given time
Showers for me are a luxury. So are real pants.
I’m the heaviest I have ever been. Also the saggiest, and I have these weird bald spots that never seem to grow back. Pregnancy truly takes a toll on the female body.
We are broker than we’ve ever been. Ok, we’re not exactly broke, but there is a huge difference in our finances now then when we were a dual income house.
I haven’t peed alone in years. In fact, going to the bathroom is basically the universal children’s sign for “go find mom and ask her to open this”
But here’s the kicker….
I’ve NEVER been happier in my entire life. EVER. I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this. Really asking myself if there has ever been a time in my life when I was happier. Surely during my single years? Or during the years when I got to sleep in on Saturday mornings? Maybe in the short time when it was just me and hubby but no kids. That comes in at a close second, but this- this is the life I was always meant to have. This is always how my life was supposed to be.
As I write this there are dishes in the sink and Lincoln Logs all over my floor. Baby toys are slowly taking over my house, the dogs have claimed the upstairs couch as their own. There are at least 4 loads of laundry waiting to be washed. I am existing entirely on caffeine and dry shampoo and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I truly cherish these days because one day I won’t be drowning in a sea of Legos. No one will ask me to read the same books 50,673,192 times. And I will finally be able to pee alone. And those days will be wonderful; but there is so much beauty in the chaos of raising kids.
So my best parenting advice is simply this: lean into the chaos and try to find the beauty in the every day, because it goes by fast.