Since becoming a parent, I’ve learned many things: the number of Cheerios that can fit up a child’s nostril (if you’re wondering, it’s 3); the secret to getting kids to eat vegetables (barbecue sauce); and the best way to make kids smile for a photo is to say “underwear.”
You may not have had to learn these specific lessons (yet), but there are a five universal lessons that I want to share with all new parents.
5 Lessons for New Parents:
1. You can function with only 2 hours of sleep – Remember those lazy weekends when you would awaken from a long, peaceful night of rest? No? Neither do I. The last time I slept more than a few hours, Bill Clinton was still president. After dealing with three kids who refused to sleep more than an hour at a time, I’ve grown accustomed to my zombie state. Now I proudly wear the bags and dark circles under my eyes as a badge of honor.
2. You have a higher tolerance for gross bodily functions than you realize – You will find yourself catching vomit in your bare hands, wearing spit and mucous-stained clothing, and cleaning poop and urine off of various surfaces on a regular basis. Cherish these moments. You’ll never get them back.
3. You will never have another moment of privacy – Before I had kids, going to the bathroom was a private affair. Since I’ve had kids, my closing the bathroom door triggers a string of crises that demands my immediate attention. Some form of the following scenario unfolds each time:
BANG! BANG! BANG!
“I’m in the bathroom. Go away.”
“Daddy, can you read this comic book to me?” asks my 8-year old son as he slides it underneath the door.
“I can’t read it right now,” I say. “Can’t you see that I’m busy at the moment?”
“Okay,” he says. “I’ll just wait right here until you’re done.”
I hear my four year old running to the door.
“Daddy, I just broke something.”
“Is it a limb?” I ask.
“Is there blood?”
“Good. Now stop bothering me.”
I hurry and finish because I know my 11-year old daughter will soon burst into the bathroom with news of an alien invasion and I don’t want to get caught with my pants down.
4. People say will say weird things to you – Many times when I’m out with my three kids, a stranger will stop and say, “Wow, I’m impressed that a dad would go shopping with the kids. Are they all yours?” I often say, “No, only one is mine. The other two just started following me because I gave them candy.” They don’t bother to ask any more silly questions. My friend, who has four children, often receives expressions of pity from total strangers. My friends who have only one child are always asked when they plan to have another child. It seems that people are uneasy if you have more or less than two children. Be prepared to defend yourself.
5. You will finally understand the phrase “Patience is a Virture” – I won’t explain this one. You will have many opportunities to figure it out on your own.
Bonus lesson: All of the previous lessons will teach you the meaning of unconditional love and your life will be richer because of it.
Question: What parenting lessons have you learned?