Whenever an expecting mom or dad asks us for tips on preparing for parenthood, we tell them the same things the veteran parents told us: Lies. We tell them to buy a case of butt-soothing Balmex, a copy of Green Eggs and Ham, a diaper genie, a swing that plays Beethoven, and to take a class on diaper-changing. Because the truth of the matter is—no matter what anyone tells you—no one is ever 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 do exercises. They read the right books. But when the time comes to jump out of a helicopter into a hostile, unfamiliar territory—everything that they learned 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. Ensuring no one’s left behind. As 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 doing. Ivy and I sure as hell didn’t. We just followed our guts, and prayed we weren’t messing our kids up too much. Well, so far so good. Today they can read, write, play saxophone and wipe their own butts. Hip, hip, hooray for us! As for tomorrow, who knows? Between the birds and the bees, teenage texting acronyms, and the world at their iPhones, we’re pooped just thinking about it.
People who survive the first year of parenthood say it goes so fast. In years, yes. But those days go on forever. How soon they forget.