Apr 4, 2017

Things I Think Differently About After Having a Kid

I was so afraid of "changing" after having a baby. The idea of not being myself was scary and, let's face it, we all get annoyed sometimes by the constant influx of baby photos and stories from some parent or another on our Facebook feeds. So I didn't want that to be me.

Just the other day I was thinking about a time that I was judging a new parent (don't worry, it was silently in my own head) because he said his new baby needed a lot of time. My non-parent self was thinking, "Oh, he's just spoiling his kid. Babies don't need to be held all the time" and so on.

But now I have one and A) He was totally right - babies take up a ton of time and they do need interaction in order to develop. Our pediatrician recommended talking to our baby at least once very 60 seconds while he's awake. (Which I am unable to do and don't feel guilty about not following through with, but you see my point.) and B) I don't even want to set my baby down. If I didn't need to use my hands to do stuff, I'd happily carry him around all day even when he's sleeping. I keep trying to convince him that he likes the body sling so I can do just that. (Mixed success on that one.)

There are actually studies that show positive correlations between "wearing your child" (yes, they really call it that) and confidence as an adult. So I don't even need to feel bad about it! But it did get me thinking about all the things I've changed my mind about in the short 2 months since my own spawn arrived in the world. For example...

Screaming Children

I was 19 or 20 when my goddaughter was born and I had no tolerance for crying. Once she got started, I could stand about 30 minutes before it was time to go home. I'm definitely not immune to it now, but it doesn't stress me out and I can go for at least an hour before I start to get frazzled (and after an hour, Little Dude starts getting hoarse and wheezy, which makes me laugh but also worry about his poor little lungs). And that higher tolerance means I don't really mind other people's screaming kids either.

Babies in Restaurants (and other public spaces)

So I was definitely one of those people who would groan upon seeing a baby boarding the same flight as me. But I could kind of understand the dilemma. I mean, what do you do - just not visit family because you had a baby? But I was very anti-kids in restaurants. Now I totally get it. Yes, they might scream and annoy other patrons. But they might not... And given the choice between not dealing with the stress of screaming baby in public vs missing out on most social events, I just don't know. It's hard to decide. Neither option sounds great, honestly. Everyone else should just come sit in my house and eat takeout. Clearly.

Going Back to Work

I thought this would be easy. And it really wasn't hard to leave Little Dude with my mom, BUT I totally understand the anxiety of handing my baby off to strangers. So far the roster of baby sitters is my mom, my sister (for the week she was in the same state), and one particularly close friend. Of course, there are also some mornings when Orion is sleepy and cute and then it genuinely is hard to hand him off and leave him.

Mom Groups

It seemed like a superficial facet of your personality to bond over. Having kids isn't an interest or a hobby, it's just part of your life and, to non-parent me, it seemed like I'd rather get out and talk about the things I like outside of having a kid. As a change of pace, if for no other reason. But I am getting to the point where I really do want to talk to other people who understand the challenges, both to empathize and to get their advice. Especially other parents who work from home with a kid, as I am struggling to make that work.

That's all I can think of, but I'm sure there's more. It all boils down to one thing, though. I couldn't empathize with an experience I hadn't been exposed to. Now I have more experience and more information and how can I be pissed at parents of screaming children when I'm secretly afraid that my kid is going to start up at any moment? Instead I think, "That sucks for the parents."

Because how often do you see a mom or dad who actually doesn't care that their child is misbehaving? They might not be handling the situation well in your eyes, but no one sets out to be a bad parent or deliberately annoy other customers in a grocery store. And what kind of punishments can you deal out in public? Spanking is out, obviously, even if you do believe in that form of punishment, and you can't really send them to time out in the bakery. The parenting tips I've read in the past said you're supposed to ignore tantrums since even negative attention positively reinforces them, but if you pretend you don't care then everyone in the store hates you even more.

I don't think I believe that children who are raised "right" are always well-behaved. I think different personalities require different parenting styles and you might get a bad combination. And I also think everyone's going to have bad days.

So anyway, my baby is only 2 months old and he has not yet had a meltdown in a grocery store. But I can see it as a distinct possibility in our futures and I dread the day.

Yes, I can sympathize.

Completely Unrelated But Interesting:

I posted this on Facebook the other day, "I love my baby but his utter lack of survival skills makes me wonder how humans made it this far. He cannot move around or even cling onto a parent on his own, cries loudly often but especially when left alone, and literally can't tell the difference between my nipple and his own hand."

Sister3 then researched this, because no scientific mystery can go unsolved! And she learned that in monkeys intelligence is strongly correlated with "helplessness" aka length of time before weaning. So basically the more intelligent we are, the more underdeveloped we need to be born in order to fit through the birthing canal!

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  1. I totally feel you on this. My views of kids at restaurants or the screaming kid in a store has 100% changed since having a kid. As well as my thoughts on mom groups. I thought similar to you but now I find myself sad that I cant really find a working mom group that meets outside of the business day. Surely I am not the only working mom who feels lonely?

  2. Yep, definitely more sympathetic to parents now.

    Mom groups are interesting- I am really glad to have mom friends but I have to be careful not to compare too. But they're also helpful so I can purge all the mom thoughts, that way when I do talk to non-parents I can focus on other things.

  3. I feel like I started becoming more empathetic towards new parents when my friends started having kids, but I'll never understand the ones who "do nothing" when the kid is throwing a tantrum. Nor will I understand the ones who bring their toddler to the bar and let them run around and scream. Baby, yes; toddler, no.

    I saw your post on FB, and the first response. I couldn't tell if she was being genuine or sassing you and well, you handled it way better than I would have lol!

  4. Crying kids in stores/restaurants/planes don't bother me. And it doesn't bother me when a parents ignores them necessarily, but it IS usually the parents I get annoyed at in those situations. Mainly for screaming at or threatening a two year old because, come on now, they're just two years old! Lol.

  5. I knew you'd be honest in what you shared after baby. Thanks for not letting me down! ;)

  6. I have patience for screaming infants, not so much screaming toddlers/preschoolers. I think its because that age group is my job and I feel compelled to say something advice wise. Which I know won't go over well. Mom groups were a god send to me. I had no outside interaction for the longest time. I wouldn't have survived without them.

  7. that last part is super interesting!

    i am obviously not a parent, but i think i am getting more understanding as i get older, especially as friends have kids. i am pretty good on airplanes and in restaurants, unless it is obvious the parent isn't doing anything to remedy the situation. i was on a plane once where a passenger was letting the kid run up and down the aisles, screaming. it was a long 13 hour flight so lights were out and people were trying to sleep. it continued the entire flight and the air hostess didn't see him (or hear him apparently) and hit him with the drink cart. the parents got angry but damn. seriously.
    i think this is all very interesting and i am terrified of changing when i have a kid, but also looking forward to understanding/being a part of something i've been on the outside for, if that makes sense. and i hoping to make at least 1 friend from a mom group hahaha. there is no 'adult women with cats' group to make friends. i wish.


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