My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby any day now. Every time the phone rings I hold my breath and hope that it’s my brother calling to tell me that his wife, Julie, is in labor and that my new little niece, Skylar, will soon be born. I can hardly wait to hold her and to watch my brother step into the role of being a daddy. I have watched him be an amazing uncle for the past 18 years to his 14 nieces and nephews, so I have no doubt in my mind that he will be an amazing father.
But since I am his older (only by two years) and wiser (what can I say, he went to the University of Florida and I went to Florida State) sister, I thought I would share some parenting advice:
During the first few weeks after Baby Skylar is born, you will find yourself looking at your precious little bundle of joy and wondering how one tiny baby can be so much work. You will wonder if you will ever get more than three or four hours of uninterrupted sleep in a night and ever have some semblance of a normal schedule again.
I promise the lack of sleep and seemingly never ending chaos of diaper changes and feedings will come to an end. It won’t be long until your child is a teenager and you are looking at the clock on a summer morning and wondering how on earth a kid can sleep until noon and miss the better part of the day.
As for feedings, they will become a frenzy during the teenage years which will leave you needing to take out a second mortgage on your house just to keep the pantry stocked. You will wonder how your little baby went from drinking 4 oz. of milk in a feeding to eating four bags of chips, three sandwiches, 2 bags of cookies and one gallon of milk in a feeding. The cry of the baby needing a diaper change will soon become the holler from your potty-trained child asking, “Can someone in the house please bring me some toilet paper!”
Don’t be in a rush for them to reach each milestone.
You will anxiously wait for them to take their first steps and say their first words. It will seem like it is just a matter of days when suddenly they are 16 and asking you for your car keys. You will long for the days when all they knew was the safety of being in your arms. As for the words that you are so anxiously waiting for them to utter, just wait until they become teenagers and that mouth can begins to fire off words that leave you wondering why we ever wanted our children to learn to say more than “ma-ma and da-da?”
If sweet Skylar has a meltdown in public one day and she will, please don’t be embarrassed or get overly stressed about it. We have all been there, we have all had children who have at one point or another have had a fit in public that is worthy of an academy awards. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent nor have an unruly child.
Children lack the maturity and ability to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions in words and at times it just comes out in the form of a meltdown. Anyone who gives you the stink eye because your child is having a meltdown, lacks the maturity or memory of what it was like to be the parent of a young child. But most of us remember those days and are likely to be the ones giving you a look of complete understanding.
My final advice is never; ever think that if you hold your child too much you will spoil them.
This is a very different world than the one we grew up in as children. Each day there are stories in the news that leave all of us speechless. I remember after 9/11 how one of my daughter’s wouldn’t go upstairs to sleep in her room and she was adamant that all of her siblings sleep downstairs with me in the master bedroom. When I asked her why she said, “Mommy, what if a bad guy flies a plane into our house and you can’t get upstairs to get us?”
That was the moment I realized that the world my children will grow up in will be filled with fears and happenings that many of us never dreamed would happen. If I can hold my children and make them feel safe and secure in my arms for as long as I can, I feel as if somehow I am fulfilling one of my primary duties as a parent. Love is not a material possession that spoils a child. Having a child who longs for you to pick them up or be close to you is not a bad thing.
Have you ever heard one of the people who have committed some hideous crime on innocent people say, “Judge, I did it because when I was child I was held to much, rocked and cuddled whenever I was afraid and was given unconditional love so as to never feel alone.”? No, if anything you hear just the opposite. So don’t be afraid to hold your child as often as you can, talk to them, listen to them, hear them and let them know that you will always be there for them. That is far from spoiling them.
Congratulations to my little brother, Giff and his wife Julie and welcome to parenthood. It is a job that is more challenging and more difficult than you ever could imagine it would be but it is also more beautiful and fulfilling than anything else you will ever experience. Welcome to the world Baby Skylar!