10 Lessons I’ve Learned as a New Parent

I've been a parent for less than the blink of an eye in terms of parenting time, or a little over two months. These two months have passed very quickly, but during that time I (and my partner) have learned several quick lessons that nobody really talks about. My theory is that when people who are parents find out you're expecting they evilly smile behind your back and think, "It's all so sweet now, but just wait for parenthood to hit them over the head! He heh heh." To be fair, words can't convey what it means to be a parent, so no advice or "warnings" can prepare you for this special life-long job. In any case, here are ten things we've learned so far.

 1. Pregnancy was the easy part.
Surprise! Pregnancy does practically nothing to prepare you for parenthood. Unless it's to make you realize that carrying your child everywhere postpartum would be exhausting.

2. Women don't get enough credit as moms.
Ok, so I'm patting myself on the back here, but I've come to realize it's true. Children can't fully appreciate all that their parents have done for them until they become parents themselves, and women don't give themselves and other moms enough credit for this 24/7 job they've got.

3. If you don't know what kind of person you are under stress you will find out at 3 a.m.
It turns out I'm pretty patient and positive, even when pacing (stumbling in exhaustion) the kitchen floor for an hour, trying to soothe and get a colicky Mr. Baby to fall asleep in the middle of the night. My partner is, ahem, not. I'm a better parent at night, he's a better parent in the morning. He manages to turn the morning wake up and changing routine into an amazing children's performance complete with music and singing.

4. Parenthood magnifies strengths and weaknesses.
When you're very tired for multiple days in a row and stuck inside because the weather is bad there is no hiding it...you've got flaws. Good thing you're not the only one. In such situations I like to say one phrase out loud: It will get better. And it does. It's also good to admit to each other the things you are feeling less than stellar about. A little empathy and communication goes a long way.

5. I'm shocked that people choose to have more than one.
Ok, so this is not entirely serious. But when you're up for the fourth time in the middle of the night and your partner is sweetly sleeping through all the noise it is a mind-blowing concept to think about.

6. Babies are public property.
It seems to be an unwritten rule. Everyone seems to love to loudly coo at a newborn baby and rub their god-knows-where-they've-been hands on any exposed baby skin. The worst are smokers. Sorry people who smoke, I've got nothing against your smoking ways, but please don't touch my baby with hands that have at least 400 different chemicals on them. People also like to complain and ask why the baby is sleeping. They want him to wake up NOW, so they can upset him with their ridiculous baby talk or, worse, hold him. This brings me to...

7. I've finally discovered many uses for the word NO.
Especially with relatives who fit the descriptions in the previous point. It took me a couple of months, but I'm not letting people poke my kid endlessly just because they think they're "playing" with the baby. No, don't do that. No, you'll wake him up. No, he's trying to sleep. No, please wash your hands. The one I'm still trying to master? No, you can't hold him.

8. Yes, I'm an overprotective mother. 
I carried him for 9 months, gave birth, had to consent to and watched him go through several medical procedures, and I'm the one who cares for all his needs along with his dad. That is what gives me the right to be overprotective.

9. Being a parent is a little harder than I thought it was going to be.
No, it's a hundred times harder than I expected. For a new parent it means that many big and small adjustments need to be made, whether you like it or not. You're now responsible for a tiny human being 24/7 and he or she demands all of your attention. As a result, your time is now a lot more valuable, your needs are no longer a priority, you have little time for yourself or your partner, you have to plan ahead a lot more and plan well, you've gone from being a couple to becoming a family, and you are tired most of the time while still trying to keep up with your life outside of the sphere of your new family member.

10. Having a child is the best and hardest thing I've ever done.
Parenthood isn't composed of ponies and rainbows and diaper commercials come-to-life. But there are moments that are even better. Moments where you forget all the pee, poop, throw up, crying, sleeplessness and exhaustion and fall in love all over again. I could keep going with the clichés, but let me just finish with this one: it is SO worth it, and I don't regret a single moment.

P.S. Here is some profound  wisdom from the poet Kahlil Gibran, the beginning of his poem "On Children," one of my favorites. 

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.


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About the author

Doroteja Perse

Doroteja is a full-time mom, partner, student, and part-time writer and translator. She'd like to be a few other things as well and is working on it. She really appreciates forests, mountains, and good books as well as comments and feedback on her writing. So please don't hesitate to leave some! :)

Daria - July 16, 2015

You made me laugh to tears, especially because I very well understand how much truth there is in this latest life story of yours. Also, after reading your post, I admire and appreciate you more than ever for your many qualities and talents, along with the newest one of being a full time mom. You go, girl!! 🙂

    Doroteja Perse - July 17, 2015

    Heh, thanks. 🙂 Anytime I say or write something that’s meant to be funny it isn’t, but when I have little or no intention of being funny it sometimes turns out to be amusing. Funny how that works. Haha. See? 😛

Erik Perse - July 16, 2015

Good post. Your voice comes through in your writing. Stay strong and remember we’re all gonna make it. The poem was a nice conclusion and even though I don’t normally like poetry this one struck a chord. Especially the line

“For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”

Hopefully you don’t become a helicopter parent. 😛

Fred - July 16, 2015


Nejka - July 17, 2015

Wonderful… Love the poem…

Annabelle Bostelman - July 18, 2015

What a beautiful story and how very true. Those days will never be gone. Have fun with you precious little one and enjoy each day!!!

Ruth - July 19, 2015

Wonderful article! So much feeling and truth.

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