JACKSON, WYO – I’ve been a pediatrician for more than 15 years, but I’ve recently learned that doesn’t fully prepare you to be a parent.
Parenthood isn’t always pretty. More importantly, it’s OK to admit that. We know this intellectually, but it can be hard to process emotionally.
For many moms and dads, especially in the first weeks, there’s a tremendous pressure to “enjoy every precious moment.” When you’re sleep-deprived and overwhelmed and covered in baby spit-up, well, sometimes it’s hard to feel that joy. Having people in your life who understand and embrace the less glamorous moments of parenthood, and let you do the same, is essential.
Acknowledging this darker side of what is a beautiful, overwhelming, exciting, stressful and humbling (and more) experience doesn’t mean you’re not a good parent. It also doesn’t mean you don’t love your child enough.
What follows here are the tips, bits of counsel and musings that I’ve found most helpful so far. I write as both a pediatrician and a new mom, with the advice of well-wishing friends and family sprinkled in. If you’re an expectant parent, maybe some tidbit will be helpful to you. If you’re a new parent like me, maybe you’ll be able to relate (or commiserate). And if you’re an experienced parent who’s already been down this road several times, please, enjoy a chuckle at my expense.
In the eight weeks since my son was born, here’s what I’ve learned.
• Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. I’m certainly not the first person to say this (Voltaire is credited with that honor), and it doesn’t just pertain to parenting. Sometimes in the chaotic swirl of life, things just need to get done, and they don’t have to be perfect.
The frenetic pace of our modern society and the oversharing of our personal lives on social media often makes parenting feel like a competition. It’s OK to let yourself off the hook and just be “good enough” sometimes. We all have multiple roles to fill in our life — parent, spouse, employee, etc. — and it’s impossible to earn an A-plus in all areas at all times.
• Limit your exposure to the overwhelming amount of available parenting information…
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