Sunday, December 8, 2013

21 Things No One Tells You...

If you are on facebook, there is no doubt you have been drenched in the relentless flood of pointless, useless lists from your friends. You know the ones I am talking about. Perhaps it is the Top Ten Baby Names in Malaysia, or Five Uses for Broken Ornaments, or maybe even the always inspiring revelation of The 25 Funniest Cats... all actual lists I have seen posted in recent weeks. Seriously.

Last week, however, a buddy of mine posted a BuzzFeed list that caught my interest. You can view it for yourself here:  
31 Things No One Tells You About Becoming a Parent

This was a rare occasion where the list was not only entertaining but also incredibly accurate and extremely poignant to my life as a Dad. Almost every point made was a truth confirmed by my own experience these last five months... almost. Some of them were very specific to toddlers. I don't doubt the validity of the claims at all. They simply have not entered my life as a Dad quite yet. After all, I only have five months on the clock so far!

Five months... plus a couple extra weeks... not a very long time at all. Can anything from this list really be true at such an early age? Absolutely. Life changes when you become a parent, and some of those changes occur almost instantly. With that inspiration in mind, I offer a whittled down, adjusted version of BuzzFeed's list with my own commentary:

21 Things No One Tells You About Having an Infant

1. At some point you will accidentally hurt your kid and you will feel like the worst parent ever.

Fortunately, I have done nothing to really hurt my daughter and hope I never do. But have there been occasional bumps, pinches, or scratches here and there? Absolutely. And they bring tears. It happens. Even to the best parents. Know your love will always drown out that pain, learn to forgive yourself, and move forward. Your kid will be fine.


2. You will know a lot less about the news.

From interesting local events to global uprisings, I never have any idea what is going on. There is no time to read the newspaper and you are simply too tired to stay up for the news. All you can do is hope a kindly neighbor or good friend warns about that blizzard on the way, provides you with the sports updates, or describes the latest DC scandal to you. Don't worry about it... most of the news will just depress you anyway.

3. Your pet will no longer be your top priority.

Apologies to Brady the cat and Riley the dog, but they moved right to second fiddle the moment that baby girl arrived. As I mentioned in another recent post, no matter how much you love your pet it can never, ever compare to the love for your child.

4. You will gain 15 pounds.

Okay, maybe 10 pounds. The bottom line is the time and effort needed to fully regulate your diet will be gone. You will mainly eat quick meals and snacks, which are often unhealthy. Then again, you may lose 10 pounds since you no longer have time to eat.

5. The back seat of your car will be nasty.

I am certain this becomes more and more true as your child grows older, but I am already building my own collection of random baby goods back there. Whether it is a blanket, a piece of food, or a stain... it won't be clean.

6. You will eat 95% of your meals either incredibly fast or with one hand. Or both.

It might actually be 98%. Your baby will not allow you the time or opportunity to eat a real meal at a casual pace... period. It won't happen. And the 2% of the time you baby is silent and perfectly calm during meal time? You still won't dine in peace because you'll be so worried something is wrong with them.

7. Parenting is harder than you think, but you won't really notice.

I would correct this. I think you do notice, but you don't mind. As I have said many times before: It is by far the hardest job I have ever had but also the very best job I have ever had.

8. You will laugh more than at any other time in your life.

On my very worst day in the midst of my very worst mood, my baby girl can always make me smile and laugh. You have no control over it. They just saturate your heart with joy so easily.

9. The power of cute is more formidable than you realize.

Again, it is infectious. They are charmers from day one and you have no power to resist it.

10. You will find talking to your friends without kids more difficult.

So very true. You will stay great friends but there are so many facets to your life now that they can never understand. Try to explain it all you want. Until they have children of their own they will never fully understand or relate. On the flip side, you will feel a stronger bond with those friends who also have children... the "been there, done that" friends.

11. Kids become actual people and not baby blobs way sooner than you think.

Even I was amazed how early our daughter's personality began shining through. It takes weeks, not months, and you will love seeing that personality emerge more and more each day.

12. Something you love will get ruined.

Probably more toddler-centric here than baby-centric, but even with a newborn things can take a hit. Formula stains on clothing, spit up or vomit on furniture, things knocked over and broken... you can bank on it. You know your baby isn't doing it on purpose, though, so you accept it and move on. After all, your "things" seem less important now that you have a baby to care for.

13. You will turn into your parents.

This transformation occurs over time, I believe, progressing more and more each year. It starts in those first days and weeks, however, so be ready for it. Hopefully you are as lucky as I am. I had two amazing parents so if I learn to emulate their love, support, and guidance that can't be a bad thing.

14. Very little will embarrass you.

Yesterday I was in a Wal-Mart packed with Christmas shoppers, wheeling my cart from one aisle to the next singing The Lion Sleeps Tonight to keep my baby smiling. I may or may not have done a little dancing, too, complete with hand motions. If that doesn't embarrass me, I don't think anything will.

15. You won't be able to watch movies where kids are killed or kidnapped.

Raising Arizona was a favorite film of mine growing up. It was hysterical. A classic. It was on TV the other night and I struggled to watch it. Ransom? Minority Report? So hard to watch any of those right now. It taps into your worst fears and it will haunt you in a way you never felt before.

16. You won't want to spend money on yourself because you'll know every dollar spent on yourself is one you could have spent on your family.

Okay, I admit I still do spend money on myself  now and then. You need to. You work hard as a parent and you deserve a few treats just for you. You think a lot longer and harder about the value of those purchases, though, and you do tell yourself 'no' far more often. And when money is tight? There is no debate or discussion. You will always put your child first.

17. Buying your kid something will make you way more happy than buying yourself something.

100% true. Every single time.

18. When your kid is little, every trip out of the house will feel like getting ready to go to the airport.

Is she dressed appropriately for the weather? Is she secure in the carseat? Change of clothes? Bottles and food? Diapers, wipes, and changing pad? Toys? Blanket? Burp cloth? Pacifiers? Yeah... you get the idea.

19. You will cram your entire adult life between the time your kid goes down and the time you go to sleep.

It is the only regular time you have. What other option is there? Unfortunately, you will be so tired that this time can be very short on many nights. My advice? Do all you can to make sure the time IS there and make the effort to use it wisely. Forgetting to spend quality time on yourself or with your spouse is all too easy when you have a baby but that time remains very important for all of you. Your baby will still benefit from your "me time" and "couples time" since it will give her a happier, healthier parent.

20. For a while, only you will be able to understand them so you will basically become their interpreter.

You will learn what the hungry cry sounds like versus the tired cry, or the pain cry. You will learn what each little sound means and become skilled at reading her facial expressions. Humans communicate in so many ways without using words and a baby is concrete proof  of that very fact.

21. It's all worth it.

Take every inconvenience, each little struggle, and all the new challenges. Add any frustrations and personal losses. Pile it all up. It will seem like an ant hill next to the mountain of love, joy, and purpose your baby has added to your life. Yes, becoming a parent means a life of hard work and sacrifice, but it is also the greatest gift you will ever receive. You will never regret it for a moment, and you will give thanks for it every day as your love only grows deeper and wider than you ever imagined.

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So, there you have it... my modified version of the list produced on BuzzFeed. If you didn't click the link before then you should visit now. The full list of 31 is pretty interesting and there are some funny animations and illustrations added in.

And in case you are still wondering... the #1 baby names in Malaysia were Nor (girl) and Mohamed (boy). You'll have to look the broken ornaments and funny cats up on your own time, however!

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