What To Really Expect

12 Sep

When I was pregnant with my son, I read that “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book. It did a very thorough job of informing me about what I might expect, month by month, as my pregnancy progressed. I, of course, zeroed in on the things that could go wrong in any given month and spent the entire pregnancy wondering when disaster would strike. I came to think of the book as “What Terrible Thing To Expect When You’re Expecting” but had a hard time keeping away from it nonetheless.

My son was born and no terrible things happened. So, I immediately purchased “What To Expect The First Year.” I have since renamed the book “What Your Baby Should Be Doing This Month That Every Other Baby But Yours Is Already Doing.” I subtitled it, “All The Exotic Diseases Your Child Probably Won’t Get But It Couldn’t Hurt To Worry About Anyway.”

Still, very soon into parenthood, I realized things were happening that no one had warned might happen. It began with the nurse placing my son in my arms and I felt . . .confused. When I first saw my son, I thought, “Wow, his head is cone-shaped on one side and block-shaped on the other.” Oh, I’d heard that babies weren’t particularly cute when they first come out, but block-and-cone headed? Nope. I’d also heard that childbirth was beautiful. Sunsets? Those are beautiful. The prairie on a crisp, fall day? Yup. Childbirth? Not so much.

Many people in my life happen to have babies either coming soon or already in their arms. I have gathered together the things I learned the hard way; things I wish I’d known before the babies hit the fan. You can thank me later.

You will be covered in truly grotesque substances on a regular basis. You probably have cute little fantasies of changing the diaper of a smiling, gurgling cutie. But if you have a boy, prepare yourself for projectile urination. Keep that little firehose covered or you’ll wind up the subject of ridicule for years to come. My son still gets a kick out of having peed all over his aunt when he was just five days old.

While we’re in the diaper region, I should mention that poop from breast-fed babies doesn’t really smell all that bad. Kind of like old buttered popcorn. Poop from bottle-fed babies is another story. Think standing downwind of a thousand camels.

The other end of your child is dangerous, too. I know of a dad who held his six-month old above his head so he could see her darling face smiling down at him. She had just been fed. She spit up just as he opened his mouth to smile back.

Your child will hurt you. My dad is a Republican. His child (me) grew up to become a Democrat. But that is not the kind of hurt I am talking about.

Your child will quite literally hurt you. When she was about 13-months old, my niece was standing on her changing table facing her mother, who was dressing the little darling. My sister says that my niece started shaking excitedly then dove into my sister’s shoulder and took a gigantic bite. Because my sister is sensible, she screamed then said, “That hurts Mommy.” My niece pulled back, started shaking again and dove for the shoulder again, probably thinking, “I can make Mommy scream!”

My son made Mommy scream when he was about two. Toddler hands are generally covered with a toxic mix of germs and sticky things. On top of that, they tend to be sweaty in the summer. My son grabbed a handful of my hair one day and wouldn’t let go. I screamed. I said, “That hurts Mommy.” He kept pulling. I screamed, “You’re hurting Mommy.” Maybe he was thinking, “I can make Mommy scream!” or maybe his sticky, sweaty hands were glued to my hair. He did not let go. I screamed, “Let go of my hair! Now!” He did not. This lead to . . .

You will hurt your child, once. I smacked his sticky, sweaty toxin-covered hand. He let go. He cried. This lead to . . .

You will feel like the worst parent in the world. I have felt like the worst mother in the world many times since the hair-pulling incident, but have never smacked my children since. I know other parents who have smacked their children once; they felt like the worst parents in the world.

You will feel like the worst parent in the world, even when you are being the best parent in the world. When I worked at a full-time, permanent position in Chicago—otherwise known as a real job—I got to talking about disciplining children with some of the African American women I worked with. They told me that white parents are wimps. One of them even mimicked a white parent, saying, “ ‘Now, Timmy, don’t touch the crystal vase again’.” “You know,” she said, “that Timmy is going to touch that vase again.”

I vowed that I would not be a pansy parent. So, when I was in a store with my son one day and I told him that we would be leaving the store if he did a particular thing again, we left the store when he did the thing. My son did not go gently. He screamed. He kicked. He threw punches. I didn’t even try to make him walk; I dragged him by one arm out the door. People stared at us. People thought I was a terrible parent. I felt like a terrible parent. But soon, I was able to take my child to the store and have him behave appropriately.

Maybe someday, I’ll gather all the wonderful things to expect with your wee—and not so wee—ones. I’m pretty sure you’re ready for those, though. But there was one truly wonderful, absolutely amazing, totally unexpected thing no one told me about.

You will fall completely in love with your child. I don’t mean that you will love your baby; you will. I mean that you will hold your child and wish you could inhale her. You will touch your baby again and again just to feel his warm fuzzy head. You will be fascinated by toes, cheeks, hands. You will tip toe into the nursery just to get another peek at the little person who has changed your life forever.

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2 Responses to “What To Really Expect”

  1. Ibby Anderson-Grace September 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Love love love <3<3<3

    • jmlindy422 September 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

      So glad you found this. Written with you in mind! Boy part is particularly relevant it seems!

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