By Pete Cataldo
The celebration of a baby’s first birthday is almost more about mom and dad than it is about the actual baby.
You’ve survived an entire year as parents and lived to tell the tale. High fives all around.
It’s funny how first time parents anticipate and get excited over the completion of those opening 365 days of child-raising. That’s like 13,651 diapers or something, right? That alone should be worth some kind of reward.
The hard reality is that behind door number two is really just the rest of our lives as parents. Sure, you proved to yourselves that you can actually do this without breaking a baby for an entire year – an accomplishment in and of itself, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg called parenthood.
But there’s something about getting through an official year and hitting that milestone that forces us into a bit of introspection and reflection. It feels like this awesome achievement you’ve just unlocked on the Playstation.
For that first time parent, this is the perfect time to step back and reflect and pat yourself on the back that you helped raise a little person into a one year old. It allows for the opportunity to look within to see how you’ve changed as a person while managing to raise an actual little person.
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned along the way through this opening leg of the journey: The good, the bad and the poopy edition.
1. Trial and error (…and error and error)
One of the very first rude awakenings as a parent is when they pack you up and send you home from the hospital after just two to three days with this newborn baby that is 100 percent dependent on you. And they arm Mommy and Daddy with… nothing. Until we figure out how to write the perfect instruction manual for how to raise the perfect child, first-time parents are left with the game of “let’s try this to see if it works.” Of course this only works for a little while, until the baby gets wise enough to realize that she is the one that’s actually in charge and will flip the script on you to ensure that you are always one step behind in the parental game of life. If at first you don’t succeed …
2. It can be scary, lonely world
Sometimes in the first few weeks of parenthood, when we are left to our random thoughts in the middle of another late-night feeding for our newborn, it gets lonely. It gets scary. We think that we are literally the only human being alive at 3:30 in the morning that is spending time trying to console this fussy little baby. Even though you’ve expanded the family, the loneliness of parenting can actually creep up on you as the weight of being responsible for this little offspring sets in and the totality of your role as parent takes its toll. It’s okay to be scared. If we aren’t terrified about some of the things we need to do as we learn how to be a parent, we aren’t parenting well enough.
3. Don’t listen to Google
According to the world wide web of information and parental milestones, by the first year of birth, my daughter should be speaking three or four languages fluently, she should be making her voice heard in the international philanthropic community and she should be physically gifted enough to compete in American Ninja Warrior. Despite what my latest Google search revealed, my kid will develop exactly how she’s supposed to develop: On her own. Regardless of the latest Facebook post of my cousin’s nephew’s sister’s best friend’s 3-month old son who juggled three Olympic torches while reciting the Mandarin alphabet, there is no need to get all hot and bothered over the fact that my daughter can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Read more at: 5 Thoughts on the First Year of Fatherhood