It started in the hospital. There you were, laboring, having rather quickly lost all sense of modesty you ever had. You realize abruptly, if you hadn’t long before, that you are about to welcome a bona fide human being with opinions, attitudes and actions that may or may not go along with what you imagine will happen.
Many of us spend pregnancy, perhaps longer, dreaming of what we will be, and will not be as a parent. We try to imagine what we will do, what we will not do, and what it will all feel like.
Sometimes the process of getting pregnant itself begins to chip away at this image we created. Almost always, the childbirth experience itself throws a curveball. Sometimes childbirth’s surprises are good; sometimes they are less than our ideal. Either way, we begin to grasp how humbling being a parent can be.
Spoiler Alert! Parenting can be really hard sometimes!
Next, many of us begin to tackle the challenges of sleep deprivation, learning to feed a baby, and who will do which tasks in our family. Perhaps some of this will align with the visions we had imagined. More often, we take a few more bites of humble pie.
How is a person to survive parenting without so many bruising bites of pie?
My first thought is to really, really try to be open-minded and learn as much as you can. In our isolated society, we are robbed of the opportunities our forebears had to see a variety of parenting choices and their impact right before their eyes, on a daily basis and for most of their lives. On the other hand, we now benefit from increasing open-mindedness and tolerance, education, availability of choices, and scientific information. If you embark on research, say, regarding the wide spectrum of baby sleep methods, it is wise to read some of everything. Even if you decide at the end that your philosophy and goals align very clearly with one end of a spectrum, beware! Your little one may just throw you a curveball made of humble pie. At the end, you may find yourself doing precisely that which you swore you wouldn’t.
This brings me to another recommendation: try not to make bold proclamations to yourself or others when it comes to parenthood. While certainly it is great to be an educated parent and self-aware, spare yourself the extra helping of pie and try not to blast your thoughts from the rooftops. Of course, appropriate and bold proclamations and determinations around the REALLY BIG STUFF notwithstanding (I will not abuse my child. I will not attempt to sell my child on eBay. I will not move my spouse’s things into the garage if he/she evades yet another poopy diaper).
Be gentle to yourself, your marriage and your child. These are, after all, human beings that may just be persuasive enough to sway you from your rock. Also, consider some parenting support, or some couples counseling to prevent your relationship from taking a toll from the rigors of parenting.
Lastly, it sounds trite, but really is true: every child, parent, and family is different. What worked for your firstborn may completely backfire with your second. Cut yourself some slack and know that you are giving your children the greatest gift you can by learning, and being open to learning every step of the way.
What were your latest humble pie bites? What advice would you give to a new parent to avoid gaining the freshman 15 in humble pie?
Call 303-513-8975 or schedule an appointment today for counseling support in your parenting journey. You’ll be glad you did.