Advice for new parents

A friend of a friend put out a plea to her readers for their parenting advice and stories a long while back.  Noting that there are lots of cheesy things we do to prepare for baby but very little we do to prepare ourselves as parents.  It took me a while to think of things to inspire, or reflect on that would be helpful so I decided to go another route.  Here are my 3 absurd things for new parents.  All the normal stuff you should have heard by now.

1.0 – Changing crib sheets is exhausting and it gets harder the lower the mattress goes.  I can’t do it without cussing.  In fact tonight, I was changing Syds sheet while Royce was downstairs playing with her….he had the baby monitor and heard my mini explosion (repeat the f-world 3 times with increasing vigor) when the crib sheet I was trying to put on ripped (which was new I might add which leads me to parent advice 1.1 – Gerber crib sheets are crap).  Since each time I change her sheet I have to position myself on my belly as a fulcrum with head and hands in the crib and legs stretched out in mid-air to keep balance.  I’m beginning to wonder if she will ever get her crib-sheet changed when I get pregnant again (cause teetering on your belly really isn’t suggested then).  She may go 9-months with the same sheet.  Stay tuned.

2.0 – You will spend a stupid amount of time on the floor.  I can’t remember the last time I sat on my couch.  Be smart, either get plush soft carpet or nice soft rugs. Toss out any scratchy old un-padded wool rugs.  They will make your butt itch.

3.0 – You will learn to do almost every task with one hand.  I’ve opened a bottle of wine with one hand.  I’ve gone pee in an airport bathroom with one hand.  I can do anything with one hand.  Try me.

A confession

I can’t take it anymore, I have a confession…my kid is angry.  Sometimes all day and all night.  It’s maddening.  I feel guilty (there is that stupid word!) even confessing this, but I figured “this is Syd…for the good or bad of it, this is who she is…” so here it is for her to read someday (and hopefully laugh).   I’m fairly certain if it wasn’t for day-care I would have gone insane by now.  I don’t pick her up until 5 pm just because it’s 1.5 hours less (I’m usually off by 3:30 pm) for her to scream at me.  And boy can she scream….loudly, for a very long time…2 hours to be exact tonight. She screamed through dinner, while I read books, while I colored, while I sorted and stacked, while I sang, while she bathed.  Good times I say…good times indeed.  Most nights aren’t quite as bad as tonight but if I had to push the numbers we probably have 1 scream-free happy child night, out of every 14 nights handed to us.  If that ratio could bump up to 1 out of every 7 I’m pretty sure I would drink less, and be marginally happier about being a ‘mother’.  I would maybe even be happier if each night I wasn’t walking on egg shells to avoid upsetting the delicate emotional ‘tee-ter-totter’ by moving too much in the kitchen or leaving a room to go get a tissue.

Portrait of an Angry Girl

In my opinion, angry children are harder when they are older. When she was young I would breastfeed her, walk around with her or give her a pacifier…she seemed, at least in my memory, easier to sooth.  Now eating is frustrating (she is very picky), and I can’t very well hold her all night long every night…even if I did she has started that back-arching apoplectic crap that makes it impossible to hold onto her.  As much as I would love to just plug her up with a pacifier from 5- 7 PM we are already having a hard enough time with language development so we are trying to keep the pacifier for bed-time/nap-times only.

She is typically quite better in the mornings but even that is hit-or-miss.  She typically doesn’t scream if in public.  She will drive you  nuts squirming though in the grocery cart or high-chair, eventually putting herself in such a precarious position that you are forced to pick her up and hold her.  And she is usually fairly good if people are visiting…I think she likes the distraction…especially if it involves other kids.

Granted my sample size is only an n = 1 so maybe all children are like this and other mothers lie…or maybe they have a higher tolerance.  Regardless it drives me nuts to hear “my 13-month old plays independently can can stay strapped in a chair for 5 hours no problem as long as they have toys and a snack”. Really?  REALLY?  Sydney would burst into flames if I didn’t sit ON THE FLOOR, sing songs at the top of my lungs and play with her 1:1 every-night.  And I don’t even want to think about taking a car ride longer than 1 hour cause I would be deaf by the end of it.  I’m fascinated by those mothers who rush back home to be with their babies, who leave parties early to be with them…who choose to stay home with them.   I want to understand them, watch them, figure out if their baby is different than mine.  Or maybe I’m just a monster.  That’s probably what society would peg me as.  That’s OK, at least I’m a monster that doesn’t lie.

Don't put me Down (Photo by Linda Crayton)

At least she sleeps well. I’m 99% of the time guaranteed that every-night at 7 PM she will go to sleep and 80% of the time she will stay asleep until 7 AM.  Even if she wakes up it’s rare that we have to go in to intervene…she is good at putting herself back down (or we are good at putting pillows over our heads to muffle the screaming).

Maybe the next child, if we even have the energy for another, will be low-maintenance…less busy…HAPPY.  I do find comfort knowing that my cousin who has two amazing teenagers said that one of his girls was, “an angry baby, but grew up to be a lovely child and teen”.  Let’s hope the same is true for Sydney.  Maybe we are all born with a certain amount of angry and Sydney is just choosing to get rid of hers at a very young age.

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