I once heard the following quote, or something similar, being said to a non-parent who had just given a parent some advice on parenting.
“Enjoy the time before you have kids, it’s the only time when you’ll have all the answers” – Someone cleverer than me.
If it is a quote from some clever and well known sort then I can’t remember who, sorry about that. All I know is that it stuck with me.
Me and Mrs L have often found ourselves chatting about other people’s approaches to parenting, usually not long after their child has done something delightful, like kick me in the shin or drop a mobile phone into the hole at the back of a speaker, never to be seen again. Why, we wonder, has the child not been taught that these things are UNACCEPTABLE? Why, following the event, do the parents roll their eyes, adopt a facial expression which somehow speaks the words “C’est La Vie” and shrug in a manner which suggests utter defeat? Why, why, why aren’t they seeing the obvious solution that we are discussing?
To a non-parent it all looks so simple! We, the childless many, who can hand the baby back when it begins to cry (or, if we were feeling particularly brave/cocky and tried to console it, when we’ve worked out we don’t know how) are often at a loss to the reasons for this apparently shoddy and slapdash parenting.
Well, with seven weeks left until our baby is due to arrive I have finally shed my naivety. The realisation has dawned: having a baby is not easy. Having a child is going to be a challenge. Parenting well will be the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do.
I’ll be honest, I knew that anyway. I’m a bit of a “head in the sand” sort of guy though, so I’ve been ignoring it. But now the realisation has hit me, and I can’t un-realise it. So I’m crapping myself. Oh well, once the baby is with us I’ll probably be too busy dealing with him crapping himself to worry too much about it, right? Maybe. All I know now is that there’s another side to this adventure we’re about to embark on.
So tell me parents (not my parents, they’re not reading, I mean you), what jewel like snippets of advice would you give an expectant dad who is only just taking in the enormity of the task ahead?