In our first year of marriage, as we laughed and argued through many peaks and valleys we amassed a clumsily written list of “marriage rules” that has come to live on our refrigerator. It is one of my favorite things in our home because each rule is representative of a hard-learned lesson about what works or doesn’t work for us as husband and wife. It is truly priceless, and a great reminder of how we’ve grown.
And so now here we are on this new adventure. And boy, is it a crazy ride.
Three months in, here is our list of “rules for parenthood” so far:
Keep LOW expectations.
As people, we always have expectations, but the key for us with this one is to not let those expectations count for much. If Evan sleeps through the night on a Wednesday evening, we DO NOT expect that to happen on Thursday, or the week after, or three months from now.
Let it be what it is.
This rule came from the litany of trouble E and I had with breastfeeding, and it’s actually a direct quote from John’s comforting words to me on a particularly rough night. I know we’re still total newbies, but this feels like it can apply to so, so much in parenting.
I got into a bad habit of sitting down to feed E and using that time to check my phone and try to catch up on messages and emails…until I realized how terribly distracted that made me to the wonderful bonding time that even bottle feeding can be. As a whole (and I think this is a big struggle for all parents in 2014+) there is nothing on any electronic device that can’t wait. Ever. This rule reminds me of that. And I think it’s going to be one of the hardest things about parenting in this generation.
Again, so hard. But so important, right? I drove myself crazy in that first month trying to measure my success or lack thereof on how other moms were feeding their babies. I was going to breastfeeding support groups and feeling buoyed for a minute, and then crashing at home, a mess of tears and frustration because E and I weren’t doing it the same as all those other moms. Ugh.
With so many charts and percentages and milestones I know it’s going to be impossible to never compare, but this rule helps to remind me that E is E. And like every other child on the planet, he’ll be ahead of the pack on some things, behind it on others, and maybe not even in the pack (whoohoo!) on a lot of things, too.
Fingers full of poop while the doorbell is ringing and the dogs are barking? John getting covered in baby vomit in his work clothes?Working out for the first time and hurting myself so badly that I couldn’t really laugh without wincing in pain (but laughing anyway)? E starting to fuss the minute we start kissing? Our sweet, smiley, happy baby erupting into tears just because the clock strikes 7pm, on the dot, every night, no fail?
John and I are convinced the only way anyone ever survives parenthood is with a LOT of humor. And our house is full of laughter sometimes, if you know what I mean! 🙂
It’ll all get done, eventually.
This one is huge for me, ever the task-master who desires a clean house… This “rule” came from a day when there was cat vomit in the hallway, mud on the floor from the dogs feet (which I couldn’t wipe off because E refused to be put down), a sink full of dishes, fur balls in the hallway, piles of laundry, tissues (from my crying!) on the floor that Rocky chewed into bits, sheets that needed to be changed, an overflowing Diaper Genie, and pine needles everywhere from the Christmas tree. Oh, that day!
But it all got cleaned, eventually. And I learned I could put E down, even if he cried, long enough to wipe the dogs’ feet. And I stopped crying so much. And weirdly, the house is just as clean now as it ever was pre-baby, expect I just can’t get it all done in two hours like I used to. And I ask for help a lot more often.
There are no “rules.”
Our biggest thing? Anything goes. Try anything once. Never judge a method, approach, etc., because you never know what will or won’t work until you try it.