Whenever an expecting mom or dad asks me for tips on preparing for parenthood, I tell them the same things the veteran parents told us: lies.
Get a case of Balmex, a copy of Green Eggs and Ham, a swing that plays Beethoven, and to take a diaper-changing class. But the truth of the matter is—no matter what I say—they’ll never be ready. It’s impossible.
Newborn parenting is like preparing for war. Soldiers spend months in boot camp learning survival techniques for future combat. They get supplies. They exercise. But when that time comes and they’re ordered to jump out of a helicopter into a hostile, unfamiliar territory, and there are bullets flying everywhere, everything that they learned back on the obstacle course goes flying out the window. There’s no time to think. Now, it’s all about instinct. Spontaneity. Reacting to screaming. Being there for those in need. Putting them first. Never leaving their side. No one left behind crying. And when you’re a parent, the same reflexes apply. The moment you’re called for parent duty you do whatever you need to do to keep your baby alive—even if you have absolutely no idea what you’re doingIvy and I sure as hell didn’t.
We just stayed the course, followed our guts, and prayed we weren’t messing up our kids too much. So far so good. Today they can read, write, and wipe their own butts. Hip, hip, hooray for us! As for tomorrow, who knows? Between the birds and the bees and social media, we’re pooped just thinking about it.