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An Open Letter to New Parents (Including Myself)

Dear New Mom or Dad (or, hell, even Future Mom or Future Dad),

Let me preface anything I'm about to word vomit out into this post/letter by saying that by no means am I a child-rearing expert. I've spent the last 10 weeks + 1 day juggling parenthood about as well as I can actually juggle, which is to say... mediocrely. You know. It's like I get two or three balls up in the air, doing fine, establishing a rhythm, and then someone (namely, a baby) throws a banana into the mix.

And what the eff am I supposed to do with a banana?

So please, read these words with a grain of salt. Or whatever you're able to choke down in the 13 free minutes you most likely have to read this post, eat breakfast/lunch/dinner/all of the above at once, brush your teeth, rinse the formula or breastmilk from the shoulder of your shirt, go to the bathroom, and catch an episode - or part of one, at least - of The Daily Show.

Let me also give you a brief background: When I started down this path of growing & raising a baby, I figured I'd be able to logic it out just like everything else in my life. Treating the child like any other project (although in a snuggling, loving way), I'd first survey my focus, do my research, write out a plan and a succinct to-do list, and, in no time, be on the yellow brick road to Parenting Greatness surrounded by singing elves and big-eyed woodland animals while wearing a smiling tot in a Baby Bjorn.

Because, you know, that's how things always work out.

Instead, in 10 weeks + 1 day, I'm sitting in a darkened living room, still sporting Wednesday's ponytail on a Friday, listening intently for any abnormal sound from a static-y baby monitor, hoping that maybe, just maybe, she'll sleep for at least an hour.

Where the hell is my yellow brick road? The elves? The big-eyed woodland animals?

As I haven't yet seen any of these parts of my Parenting Dreams, I've spent the better part of these 10 weeks + 1 day doing my research. And re-doing it again, and again, and again.

Google. Baby Wise. Message boards. WebMD. The Baby Whisperer. Texting veteran family-and-friend parents. Writing and re-writing "my plan". Trying to figure out if what I'm doing is right.

Some recent questions:
"How many times should she be pooping in a 24-hour period?"
"What if she wakes up 45 minutes into her nap?"
"Who the hell came up with the idea that 'sleeping through the night' is getting 5 consecutive hours of sleep?"
"I wonder what so-and-so's baby is doing/did at this age."
"Am I holding her too much? What if she wants to live in my basement forever because I held her 7 minutes too long today?"
"The 'books' say to make sure we get in some tummy time, some singing, a little book reading, a mid-morning walk, and a hand-eye coordination session with a rattle. But then they say to not overstimulate them or they won't sleep well... wait a minute. How long should they be sleeping again?"

New/future parents, if you're anything like me, you've probably asked/will ask yourself the same questions. You'll think that you've found an answer, and you'll covet it like Indiana Jones coveted all the shit he found in all four of his movies (even the last one, the crappy one).

And then *incoming!* the baby throws the banana into the mix, and you have to start all over again.

Problem--->research--->tentative solution--->tentative success--->new problem.

And the Googling, the texting, the book reading, the WebMDing - none of it really helps, IMHO.

Sure, perhaps it quells the problem for a minute, an hour, a whole day, or maybe even permanently.

And, to transparent here, some of these resources have proven themselves for me - TBW's EASY method helped me to grasp a schedule for Charlotte, for example.

But, like a crack addict searching the streets for their next fix, you run, scratching your neck and twitching as you search for an answer to the next problem that lands at your feet (which, by the way, are badly in need of a pedicure, or even a decent massage).

It's an exhausting, never-ending cycle, one that often leaves me (and you, maybe) feeling like you're doing it all wrong.

Meanwhile, the baby you're so intent on raising oh-so-perfectly is smiling, cooing, pooping more than enough. She's learning to do things - like suck on her fingers and master the elusive during-tummy-time head lift. For the most part, she's napping and sleeping and eating when she should. She's not yet ready to move into the basement full-time, and, from what I can tell, she won't turn out to be a sociopathic mass murderer. She's 12 pounds, and while her feet are reaching past the edge of her favorite yellow bouncer, you can't quite bring yourself to remove the infant insert because that would mean she's already grown healthfully too large for something she barely used to fill out.

Yet she's doing all of these magical, woodland-animalesque feats, big eyes and all, and you're missing out on some of it because you're too busy flipping through the results of a Google Image search entitled "color of baby poop when baby is sick".

So here's my message to you, new and future parents, and one that I'm also writing to myself:

Put down the books. Click away from the Google. Ignore those pesky message boards (because do you really think Yahoo Answers will affect your child-rearing skills? Some of those people don't even know the difference between affect and effect, GASP!).

Unless you think your child is truly ill (which warrants a call to the ped, okay), stop obsessing over whether or not you think you're doing it right because you are.
And I am, too.
If you read this blog at all, I've previously made mention of my pledge to stop the obsessing. But this time, it's for real, because I don't think my sanity can take much more. So join me, new, future, and maybe even old vet parents, in believing, despite what any book or website says, that however we are raising our children is the right way, even if that means letting them go a hair too long without a diaper change or allowing them to catch up on The Daily Show with you while you both sit, in need of a bath, on the couch.


A New Mom

Charlotte's World, confessions, health, massage, road, and more:

Relevant to: An Open Letter to New Parents (Including Myself) + RUN

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