It’s amazing the different conversations you have as a soon to be father and new daddy. Ive had a range of conversations with a range of people. The one thing that has stuck out to me as an expectant father is how much people loved to tell me that my life was coming to an end! Every other conversation seemed to be about how I wont get any sleep and would be a walking zombie or how I wouldn’t have any time to myself or how I’d be broke for the rest of my life.
I prepared myself for all of the above. Luckily, I can now say that parenthood is a lot more fun, and dare I say easier than what people had me believe. I think this is partly down to things under my control and partly due to the cards I have been dealt. I understand that people get dealt very different cards and everyone’s experience will be very different so I will never try and tell an expectant parent about how their life will be once there little boy or girl arrives in the world.
I have a major problem with people who choose to spread their doom and gloom with often excited, nervous and bushy tailed expectant parents. Why put a downer on someone who is about to experience the greatest miracle of all? Why bring your rainy cloud over to my sunny countryside garden of positivity?
The irony is most of the time these comments come unprompted and from people who have multiple children. If it was that bad then surely you wouldnt have chosen to go through it all again for the second or even third time?! Surely there was some kind of fantastic reward that made you want to reproduce again despite the horror stories you speak of. Why not share some of those stories and stop the scare mongering?!
In life, not everyone experiences the same things in the same way. I’ll be the first to say that having a baby changes your life and is the most challenging but rewarding job of all. However, when it comes to babies and families there are plenty of factors which can determine how big a challenge this experience is for you. What’s more is that some of these factors are within your control. Here’s the three main things that I think shape your parenting experience:
- Circumstance – a lot of your experience of having a baby can be shaped by your current circumstances. This can range from your financial situation, family support and housing arrangements to your work, the quality of your relationship with your partner and length of maternity/paternity leave amongst others. Everyone will have different circumstances which will lead to a different experience and different challenges. Don’t assume your circumstance is the same as everyone else’s.
- Every baby is different – I’ve had quite a few conversations with people with 2 or more children who have had different experiences with each. Some say their first baby was generally happy most of the time, slept through the night and rarely had to many colds to contend with, hence they were relatively easy to look after. Then their second was the complete opposite, generally unhappy most of the time, woke up regularly in the night and suffered from really extreme colic, hence they were relatively more difficult to look after. What makes you think that an expectant parent will have a baby similar to yours? Every baby is different, don’t assume your babies behaviour will be similar to anyone else’s.
- Your perspective, approach and attitude – I’m a strong believer in taking control of your thoughts and actions. As in life, with parenthood, your glass can either be half full or half empty. You have the power to control your perspective and attitude which I believe can become self-fulfilling and manifest in reality. Your approach as a parent has a massive effect on your experiences also. In parenting, as I am discovering, there are many decisions to be made which can effect the experience for everyone in the family. You have the power to make decisions that will have an effect on your well-being. Sometimes this can mean making a decision that may feel difficult now but is what you believe will be best for everyone in the long-run.
I hope the scare-mongerers who read this will recognise themselves as such and take a second to think about the impact their words can have on an expectant parent. Words are strong and can have a massive positive or negative effect on people. So please, before you go on to moan about lack of sleep, money or time to an expectant parent, please take a second to remember that their experience may work out to be very different to yours and more importantly that having a child is one of life’s greatest blessings which should be cherished and anticipated with joy, not complained about.