I was one of those women who was overwhelmed with information in my first pregnancy. On modified bedrest, I had a whooole lot of time on my hands to read snarky message boards, advice from myriad sources, the 8 million registry “must-haves” from the stores themselves (duh), books that saved me and books that made me want to jump off a ledge. I knew so much, it was hard to sort through what was important. Or what I needed to know.
I realized with all that information at my fingertips, it was all going to be mostly useless until I was actually holding a baby in my hands. What I was really missing, was the chance to just start parenting and figure things out for myself.
Fortunately I have somewhat good instincts about what’s right and wrong for me (if I do say so), and I had some wonderful counselors in my life. I was glad I listened to my OB when she specifically told me, “If you are reading that What to Expect book, immediately rip out all pages having to do with food and nutrition or you will weight 4,000 pounds after 40 weeks.” Or my mom who insisted that I leave the newborn baby with her for a night so I could go out and be a human being for just a few hours at a grownup restaurant with grownup cocktails; even if I did look ridiculous wedging my postpartum body into the one vaguely appropriate grownup outfit I still could squeeze into.
(I’ve deleted all photo evidence of that outfit, so don’t even ask.)I got great advice from other moms too–including some of the very people reading and commenting on this blog. Because one of the coolest thing I’ve learned about the community of parents, is that we’re not reluctant to pay it forward.
So while there are already plenty of women on the internet and beyond, benevolently revealing the things they wish they knew when they were starting out, I thought I’d throw my own hat in that overcrowded advice ring today too. On Babycenter, my column is about The 12 Things I Wish I Had Known as a New Mom.
I’m sure you have a few of your own that’s not on my list, and I’d love to hear them.
If not there, then on your own blogs perhaps?
I recognize that as our kids get older, more parents are inclined to stop blogging, stop sharing; refocus energies elsewhere. I hope that doesn’t happen too much. Even if we change our focus entirely, or we blog less about our kids’ own stories, parents who have been around the block have so so much to offer. (And I don’t mean one of the girls on Sixteen and Pregnant whose publicist suggested she offer “mommy tips and advice” to my readers. Tip #1: Condom. Anyway.)
When we reveal our truths and our failures, our lessons learned and lessons yet to learn, it breeds two really important things in new parents: confidence and community. I’ve come to believe that good parenting requires both of those. And you know, it breeds those things in not-so-new parents too. I for one am still learning every day. Sometimes my own commenters school me good. It’s tough sometimes. It’s also awesome. And it’s why I’m grateful for writers like Anna Quindlen and Lisa Belkin continue to write about life through a parenting lens, even as the novelty has worn off.
I’ve spent more than 6 years now (wow) watching parents emerge and grow online, and one thing has become abundantly clear to me:
Good parents don’t just breed good children. We help breed other good parents.
That is so very cool.
I always joke that New Yorkers aren’t unfriendly or rude; they’re just busy. But hey, ask one of us how to get to the closest A/C station and we’re likely to walk you there ourselves.