There’s really no way to fully “prepare” for becoming a parent. I mean, you can check things off your to-do list by preparing a nursery, buying the essentials, and even taking classes on infant care or breastfeeding. But parenting advice is a whole different story.
In my opinion, at least – parenting is the kind of thing that you have to experience to really get it.
When my husband and I first became parents, it hit us like a ton of bricks. We’d done our due diligence in checking off all the boxes on our to-do list, but when we brought our firstborn home, we still felt like we were fumbling along in the dark. We called on friends and family for help and advice and, like all new parents, scoured the internet during middle-of-the-night feedings for answers to elusive questions like, “Will my baby ever sleep?”
Now that we’re parents of two little ones and have several years of parenthood under our belts (though, still far from pros!), I often wonder what I would have wanted someone to tell me in those early days when I was always searching for answers.
What was the best parenting advice I’d received? The other day it dawned on me as I heard myself saying it to a couple who had just become parents for the first time. The best little nugget of parental wisdom that I’ve heard thus far in my journey is that everything is a phase; the good stuff and the bad stuff. Everything’s a phase.
Baby screams his head off every time he’s in his car seat, and you have to pull over every few blocks? I lived to tell – it’s a phase. One day it will stop, and despite how anxious it made you, you may not even notice.
Baby refuses to take a bottle, and you’re going back to work next week? Just a phase. Your baby won’t starve.
Toddler throws most of his meals at the wall or floor instead of eating? Another phase, thank goodness because that one’s pretty annoying.
Toddler bolts away from you every time you go out in public, leaving you scrambling after them in a panic? You got it – a phase (I hope… the jury is still out on that one, for us anyway).
This is what I say to friends who are new parents hoping that it will get them through challenging moments. And this is what I remind myself daily when we’re fumbling through our latest parenting challenge, whether it be a stop-drop-and-roll temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store or something more serious.
This too shall pass.
The bittersweet part, though, is that the adorable way your toddler used to refer to the kitchen as “the chicken,” in all seriousness? A phase. One day, he’ll start calling it “the kitchen,” and you’ll die a little on the inside wondering where your baby went.
Those months on end where you mastered the fine art of cooking dinner with one hand because you had a baby on your hip who just wanted to be close to you? They get bigger, heavier, and more independent, and one day you’ll find yourself cooking alone with no one underfoot.