Thursday, December 25, 2014

Being a Parent Can Be Scary, Don't Prepetuate the Fear in Others

I wanted to do a post on milestones, but from a different perspective, one of anticipation and how others affect your perception of what is to come.  As my son moves on into toddlerhood, I've noticed that parents that have BTDT (been there done that) tend to feel the need to give me advice on what is on the horizon, but most often in the most non-conducive fashion: PLAGUED WITH FEAR!

I think back to the time when I was pregnant when I was looking forward to my son's birth with the typical uneasiness of venturing into the unknown abyss.  I had done a lot of research on labor and birth and watched numerous videos online.  I was nervous, of course, but really excited about the day I would finally get to meet my little guy.  But for some reason, anyone I met who had already had children felt the need fill my brain with horror stories of labor and birth.  I heard about a catheter not working and then the eventual C-section cutting into the bladder, I heard about hours upon hours of ineffective labor that resulted in a C-section, I heard about the horrible pain I would feel because I was planning to be unmedicated, I heard about the tearing and everything else that would make any pregnant woman run for the hills, wishing she never got pregnant in the first place.  So much of having a positive birth experience is about mindset, so why would someone who already went through it cause another parent-to-be so much anxiety? Just stop.  If you've BTDT and you see a pregnant mom, wish her a fast and easy labor or just say "congratulations."

Right before I had my son, the next fear tactic that was thrown upon me was about all the sleep I would not be getting and that it was important to sleep now.  Well, anyone who as ever been pregnant should know that the last month or so that is obviously impossible. Comfortable sleep and an always full bladder make for very difficult full nights of sleep. Instead of telling the parents how hard it will be and what a struggle the transition is going to be, offer to bring by some food once baby arrives.  Offer to take baby for a walk in the stroller so that the parents can get some sleep.  Or even offer to pay for a cleaning service to clean their home, that way they can catch up on some of the sleep they were told to get before baby arrived.

Of course there are numerous other milestones that I looked forward to, read about and researched, that seemed like so much fun that were only dampened by another parent's horror story: "My baby rolled over unexpectedly and fell off the bed", "My child started crawling and got into everything, I can't take my eyes off her", "Once my child started walking, he took to running quite quickly and takes off all the time" etc.

I remember thinking that I couldn't wait for my son to talk because I was so interested in what he would have to say.  Now he doesn't stop talking, ever.  Other parents would always respond with, "careful what you wish for."  Well, even though sometimes it can cause frustration for both of us when either I can't example understand what he's asking me for or I can understand it and I'm not going to give it to him, there are so many more times when he will repeat something I say that is just so awesome to hear from his mouth.  Or he'll say something brand new that I don't even know where he picked it up and I'll have no choice but to smile.  When my little guy asks be to re-read the same book for the fourth time because "he finds it funny" what else kind I do but oblige?

Recently my son and I were at an indoor playground where my son was very nicely playing with an older boy.  The other child's mom asked how old my son was and when I told her he was two her response was "enjoy it, three is really hard." Now what if I was already having a really difficult time with the "terrible twos?" What if this Norman Rockwellesque interaction was the one time my son wasn't throwing a fit? How would I feel if I had only even worse days to look forward to? Please, parents, every child is different, even ones in the same household.  Let me learn about the trials and tribulations of a "threenager" all on my own. As I've told other parents, with each new milestone, it just gets better and better. Of course each developmental stage has it's challenges, but the developments that are causing those challenges also make for really fun times.  Enjoy every stage, both the good and the bad, because whether it is good or bad, it will be over before you know it and you will be mourning the previous stages when they're gone.