Having a baby is not always by the book. Baby has a few tricks up his sleeve to teach you, too.
“I thought I knew all there was to know about being a new mom,” says Julie Anderson, a mother of one. “I read all the books, memorized every little tip and asked my doctor a million questions. Little did I know that I still had much more to learn.” Having a baby is more than what you learn from books, it is what Baby can teach you in addition – and you will be amazed.
1 Sleep is supreme. If someone offers you fortune, fame or an exquisite nap, take the nap. Solid gold? Pass it up, and move on to the eight solid hours of sleep. Baby knows best; just watch him. There can be a party going on, but nothing keeps him from dreamland. He knows that sleep is the ultimate luxury.
2 You were crazy carrying everything but the bathroom sink in your purse. You know: the folding hairbrush, the mirror, the small can of spray, the lipstick, the weekly planner, the magazine, the whatnot. All you really need is a wallet and keys. They fit in a diaper bag. If your hair and makeup (what makeup?) doesn’t hold up during the day, who cares, as long as you’ve memorized your weekly plan: sleep, eat, take care of Baby, pay the bills and sleep.
3 The answering machine is your best friend. Remember running to the phone, hoping it was someone with a fun invitation or maybe just an old friend who wanted to chat? No more. When Baby’s sleeping, silence is golden. Turn off the ringer and leave the call to your electronic butler. “Fun” is now actually getting all the dishes done or grabbing two seconds of shut-eye yourself. Take your cue from Baby. Your real friends will understand.
4 Feet are delicious. Also called piggies or toesies, nothing brings out maternal or paternal delight more than a pair of bare newborn feet. First, you’ll press the tiny toes into your baby book. Then, your baby will wriggle them and kick them and poke you with them until you can’t resist a game of stinky piggies or this-little-piggy-went-to-market or let’s-pretend-Baby’s-riding-a-bike.
5 Shadows are amazing. Forget big-screen TVs, surround sound and interactive video games. Think dancing shadows on a living room wall. Baby will introduce you to the calming but riveting pastime of gazing at flickering tree shapes, making hand animals and trying to catch your shadow.
6 Driving is dangerous. Sure, you took driver’s ed, saw the videos, listened to the look-what-happens-if-you’re-not-careful speech and watched the nightly news. That’s nothing. Wait until you strap that helpless, adorable newborn into his car seat for the first time. Just try to pull out onto a four-lane highway with cars speeding by, trucks tail-gating and someone weaving in and out of lanes. You’ll be acutely aware of your precious cargo and won’t relax until he’s home.
7 When grocery shopping, keep it simple. Time is always a precious commodity with Baby in tow, so when it’s time to grocery shop, get organized! Know your store and make your list in aisle order. Or better yet, give the list to your hubby and let him do it!
8 Pretty clothes are designed to stay nicely in the closet. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be pretty. Baby will show you; he has all kinds of aids to teach you this: spit-up, leaking diapers, drool, orange baby food, and did I mention spit-up? The clothes you want are easy-on and easy-off, with yellow duckies to hide the faded orange stains. Oh, and get a pair for Baby, too.
9 There‘s no such thing as an ugly baby photo. Not of your baby, anyway. Your newborn will inspire you to invest in tons of film and processing, or a really handy digital camera, and you’ll be amazed at how wonderful every single shot is.
10 Parenthood is the most life-changing and affirming experience you can have. Your newborn will teach you the miraculous meaning of life, the boundless power of never-ending and total love and the incredible strength of the parent-child bond. This little being will depend on you so completely and confidently that you’ll be motivated to do great things … and little things, like cleaning poop and not even minding it. Once you are a parent, it’s forever. You will never be the same again.
Sonja Meyer is a freelance writer and mother of three children.