Henry is three weeks old today, so obviously Derek and I have mastered the art of parenthood. If you aren't already proficient at parenting, simply follow my advice and you are sure to be perfect parents in no time.
- Make sure you have read every single piece of literature on child rearing. You will want to be up to date on all the latest research so make sure you are reading scholarly journals as well as popular parenting books.
- Make sure you don't neglect your household chores. Your home should look clean, the dishes should be done and put away, and the laundry basket should never be full.
- Don't let your baby dictate your schedule. He should learn to sleep and eat when you do.
- Obviously breastfeeding is the only way to go. But, by three weeks you should know that and be a breastfeeding pro.
- Your child should always be clean, in a fresh diaper, and appropriately dressed for the situation. It would be embarrassing for him to stay in only a diaper most of the time.
Okay, I can't even take myself seriously anymore. Obviously this post was in jest. I have found that there is a lot of pressure to be perfect parents, though. If not perfect, to be good parents, to be proficient parents, to look like you have your stuff together.
At first people cut you some slack. You just had a baby. Of course you are sleep deprived, your apartment is a mess, you aren't meeting all your obligations. But, that starts to wear off quickly. While at three weeks, you are still struggling to function and learn what your baby needs, the rest of the world has lost some of the newness. Not that they are rude or insensitive on purpose, but their lives have continued to go on. Three weeks ago was a distant memory.
What I've learned in these three weeks is that being a parent is hard. I'm sure, just like all parents, I will somewhat forget these days. My memory will become selective and I won't remember all the challenges I feel so deeply entrenched in right now. But, today I am in it.
Our apartment looks like a hurricane went through it. Henry spends most of the day in his diaper. We have pee on more surfaces than ever before. It takes us much longer to leave to go places that it ever has. Henry and I still haven't figured out breastfeeding. We use a pacifier even though we were advised not to. Henry has crazy sleeping hours. Sometimes he wants to eat every five minutes and other times he goes hours between feedings. There is so much we don't know. We are far from perfect parents.
But, we love our son. We love Henry and we are giving him everything we have. We are doing our very best and, hopefully, we're doing a decent job. I don't know that any parent has ever felt particularly proficient. I think there are moments where we feel like we've done a good job, but there are probably a lot more times when we feel like we are lost. I hope that Henry will look at Derek and me and be proud that we are his parents. I hope that we do a good job. I hope that, together, we raise a son who makes the world a better place. No matter what, though, I know that Derek and I will always do our best. So, how to be a perfect parent? Try. None of us may reach perfection, but hopefully we'll hit a high mark along the way.