Most of us believe we will end up doing it. None of us are prepared for it.
Sure, we took home the sack of flour, swaddled it, and gave it a name. Fast forward a bit, and maybe you took home a battery-powered doll that cried, making the home ec task just a little more taxing and “real-life.” Even that homework assignment couldn’t prepare us for what is sure to be the most challenging and rewarding job on Earth. (We’ve heard that before as a blossoming parent, right?)
During my first year of parenting, I looked up all the things. Most of us do. How long they should sleep, how often to bathe, when they should know their colors, walking, eating, baby-led, nursing, napping, numbers, first words, comprehension, a;ldkfaj;slkdjfaslkjsdglkjsd;alkjg.
The amassment comes to a jumble of worry, concern, and anxiety-inducing frustration. What makes that even worse?
Don’t get me wrong; online parenting groups have bright spots. At the same time, even well-intentioned people can be cruel. Even reading positive posts sets you up to compare yourself and your children to others while pediatricians and teachers everywhere scream STOP – ALL KIDS ARE DIFFERENT.
Here’s the thing, Mama.
Our life on full, 24/7 public view has taken the joys of parenting and has set them against us. Teaching our kids their colors? Now a pressurized task to prove that our kid is the best and the brightest because he pointed to the color pink four times out of five at 12 months old. Mimicking our baby’s coos and babbling has become an over-enunciation of consonants and vowels and cutting out the baby-talk based on the latest research.
When did parenting become a competition?
Was it like this for our parents, our grandparents, and their parents? How in the world did our moms and dads learn their colors?! Were they counting by age 2.75?! DOES IT MATTER??
It doesn’t matter. Many of you can likely attest that each child after the first receives a little less time and effort in the education department. It’s just harder to devote every waking hour you have with your baby to their development. These same parents can likely attest that these second, third, fourth, etc., kids reach those developmental milestones just fine. That there was never really any true need to worry unless a pediatrician or teacher said so.
All this to say, whether you’re a first-time parent or have been around the block ten times, give yourself a lot of grace. Parenting isn’t just hard. It’s super hard in America’s competition-driven society today. If you read all the group posts and google all of the stuff, you may end up feeling defeated and failing at this whole parenting thing. My recommendation is, if you have a question, ask a human professional—the end.