Perhaps it the concentrated hormones surging through a pregnant woman’s body that are to blame for the degree of misguided ambition that only a new parent can have. With no real experience in the chemistry, emotions or life lessons that are unique to motherhood, a newbie mom (or dad for that matter) can get a little…cocky. To illustrate my point, let me share with you six mistakes I made in my first year as a parent. By the time my belly was swelling with baby number two, I was ready to eat my words from baby number one.
1. Being a Smug Know-It-All Because I Read a Parenting Book
I had a stack of parenting books that I read with more fervor than I did Cosmopolitan in my single days. I was a self-made expert on umbilical cord care, colic remedies, and how to install a car seat all before I actually gave birth. Yes, I was that obnoxious.
2. Assuming Everyone Would Want to Help Me
It was so hard not to assume that everyone would want to help me out after the baby was born, especially considering all of the doting on my swelling belly. But the ugly truth of my first time in the ring of parenthood was that once the baby shower was over and I had given birth to my first child, there was very little attention and even less help. I had to suck it up and figure my shit out fast.
3. Believing That I Could Handle Motherhood Effortlessly
Remember those parenting books that turned me into the asshole know-it-all I told you about? Yep, those same pages also led me to believe that if I followed their simple schedules and plans and parenting styles that I could be an effortless mom who could drop the baby weight in under a month and have a social life and the kind of family and home that others would envy me for. Guess what? They lied. My house was a shit show for months after baby number one, and my social life all but died along with the leftovers in the refrigerator.
4. Believing That the Baby Weight Would Fall Off If I Breastfed
I am absolutely sure that for some women the baby weight really does “just fall off” from breastfeeding, but this did not happen to me. In fact, I gained 20 pounds. I was hungry all the time. I wasn’t eating garbage, and I wasn’t eating enough for three grown men, but I no longer had time to work out. So I packed on some pounds. Now that weaning is around the corner I am eyeing up that P90X I got for Christmas a few years ago.
5. Thinking That My Social Life Could Stay Mostly the Same
My social life before kids looked like lots of eating in restaurants, hanging out in museums and art galleries, and going to concerts. I am honestly not sure where I got the idea that a newborn wouldn’t change that. Instead of closing the bar at 1 a.m. with my girlfriends, I was pacing the living room, whisper-singing lullabies to my poor baby who hadn’t figured out sleep patterns yet.
6. Refusing to Admit That I Had No Idea What I Was Doing
Motherhood is such an intense rite of passage that we can feel like if we were able to muster the strength to make it through pregnancy and birth that we can make it through motherhood with all the tools we need to succeed. But the truth is, none of us really know what we are doing 100 percent of the time. The moment I realized this fact I was able to calm down about all the mistakes I felt like I was making.
Parenthood comes front-loaded with dreams and fears. When we bring a child into the world or accept a child into a family, there are a billion decisions to make, and sometimes, no matter how hard a parent tries to avoid it, there will be decisions based entirely on fear. The thing to know about that fear, though, is that it comes from a place of love.