13 Things I've Learned In Just Three Years of Parenting
My daughter turns three years old today. I think that makes me something other than a "new" mother, but still somewhat shy of veteran mother status.
Regardless of where I fall, over these 1096 days (that includes the leap day!) I think I have learned a variety of things, and I'll share the 13 things I've learned that come swiftly to mind. They may not be the same things you've learned as a parent, but I'd venture to guess that a few of them will ring true!
1. The first law of childhood, change: The moment you bemoan some difficult stage or phase, and just when you feel like you can't possibly take it [the crack of-dawn wake-ups, tantrums, the nursing strike] anymore, it'll start to change. Whether achingly slowly or oddly abruptly, and sometimes by fits and starts—it will pass.
2. The second law of childhood, change: The moment you happily boast to friends or family about your child's fabulous [insert here: eating habits, sleeping schedule, model behavior, etc], the aforementioned habit will also undergo some sort of change or disruption and you'll curse the day you mentioned it out loud.
3. If you make a piece of toast for yourself, your child will want it. If you make a piece for her, she won't. If you make a piece, pretending it's for you, when really it's for her, somehow she'll know that and she won't eat it.
4. Don't cry over spilled milk. Literally. There will be so much spilled white liquid (breast, cow's, and formula) you'll curse the law of gravity. As you stifle irrational tears while cleaning up the milk. Related: You'll rethink plastic covers for the furniture.
5. Telling your preschooler that a toy has simply gone missing—when in fact you threw it away, because it had fallen into disuse, was irreparably broken, or was designed for an infant—is not really lying. It's weeding things out and keeping the "Hoarders" TV crews at bay.
6. When bath-time is a battle, all you need is four quick swipes: Neck, undercarriage, armpits and face. Clean as a whistle!
7. You will never notice as many long, loud thunderstorms as you do while your child is between the ages of 1 and 5—aka prime time for thunder and lightning fears.
8. No matter how convinced you are that you'll rise above the platitudes of parenting, and pledge never to utter such timeworn phrases as "because I said so" or "no running in socks!"—you will let these things slip sometimes. It will surprise, amuse, and scare you.
9. It's astonishing how little food your indefatigable whirling dervish can consume during the course of a day. Related: It's astonishing just how much a tiny toddler can inhale when they set their mind to it.
10. You can never have enough of the following awesome products: ZipLoc bags, Aquaphor, Aveeno Lightly Scented Baby Wash, and hydrocortisone cream. (This is my new fave: FixMySkin 1% hydrocortisone healing balm stick. It's truly a miracle tube, and can squelch boo-boo, rough patch or eczema flare-up.)
11. There's a sunny-side to everything. Take clothing and growth spurts. Where I once fretted that my daughter was so tiny, now I'm thrilled that she can squeeze extra life out of the clothes that bigger kids would have long-since outgrown. But when I find her suddenly too big for a pricey pair of shoes or jacket, I'm excited for the chance to treat her to something new and cute. (Oh, who am I kidding?! I just love shopping—even if it's not for me!)
12. Somehow, I never even noticed the giant display o' Pepperidge Farm Goldfish snack products until I had a child. I simply had a blind spot for the entire section. Now I see that there are literally dozens of iterations (rainbow-colored, ranch-flavored, extra cheese-blasted, extra itty-bitty for the tiniest mouths...), and that a large portion of American parents have decided that they are a legitimate food group—and somehow differentiated them from Cheeze-Its. Myself included.
13. It's entirely possible to want to wring your child's neck, to want to send them straight to their room, and to want to be awoken when they've moved past whatever irritating phase is currently...irritating you...whilst simultaneously wanting to cling to them, to kiss and hug every inch of their precious little self, and to stop time so that they never, ever get one second older, one bit bigger, and one step farther away.