There is a lot of information out there for parents-to-be. Books, websites, blogs, nurses, doctors, parents, family, friends, people you’ve met once, complete strangers at the supermarket, train station or bus stop; all will have wisdom to impart, and it will all be contradictory.
None will tell you that parenthood is exactly that, an experience of contradictions. Why is there so much conflicting advice? Because it’s all true, at some point in time.
We watch for each milestone with anticipation. We feel excited and proud when our child reaches them. And then we experience the flipside:
I can’t wait until you roll over. Woohoo, you’re rolling over! Oh no, I can’t turn my back for a second!
I can’t wait until you crawl. Woohoo, you’re crawling! Where did you go? Come back!
I can’t wait until you walk. Woohoo, you’re walking! Wait, slow down! Roads are for cars, not people!
I can’t wait until you speak. Woohoo, you’re talking! Stop yelling, I can’t hear myself think!
The funniest thing? We forget their existence as we await the next milestone with just as much excited anticipation. And friends of mine with more than one child confirm that it happens all over again with bubs two, three, four…
The weirdest, most inexplicable contradiction has to be the sleep conundrum, which is best demonstrated with a glimpse of my inner monologue at nap time:
Ashleigh, please go to sleep. Please stay asleep for more than twenty minutes. Please. It’s been thirty minutes. Woohoo! Forty-five. Excellent. An hour. I hope you’re okay. One-and-a-half hours. Are you still alive? Two hours. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. Two-and-a-half hours. I’m hyperventilating. Is my baby okay? I should just go check… Waaah. Damn it. You’re awake. Go back to sleep!
If you’re a parent, I’m sure you’re nodding your head. If you’re not, you may be disgusted, but it’s involuntary. You can go from feeling absolute dread that your child is no longer breathing to cursing that they’re awake in a second. And then from cursing that they’re awake to being disgusted with yourself in the very next.