Parenting is like my grandma joining Facebook… or Christopher Columbus sailing to the New World. You’re constantly discovering new things that millions of people already know about. I have a 2-year-old son and a daughter who is almost 1, and they are always doing things — things that cause me to question my sanity or their normalcy.
But every time I ask another parent, “Is this normal?” or “Did your kid ever…?” the answer is always “yes.” So to all you new and new-ish parents, let me use the vast experience of my three years of fatherhood to absolve your fears.
Here are some things you can look forward to:
- Your child will eat dirt. You can tell them to stop it, but that won’t deter them. They crave the sweet taste of earth. The way they savor it, you’d think it was chocolate or single-malt whisky.
- Your child will bounce their forehead off of every imaginable surface — except the one that you’re most worried about.
- Your child will roll over or walk or talk late. Everyone from your pediatrician to your spouse will tell you not to worry. But you’ll worry. You’ll fret that walking late will somehow keep your kid out of Stanford or West Point.
- Your child will hate that one thing from your childhood that you couldn’t wait to share with them.
- Your child will love that one show you can’t stand. (I’m keeping it general here, but I mostly mean “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”)
- You will find yourself singing “Elmo’s Song” at an inappropriate moment like in a meeting or during a funeral mass.
- You will baby talk to a coworker. Hopefully, they don’t hold grudges… or recording equipment.
- You will fall asleep while playing with your child. (It’s partly your kid’s fault for not picking a more exciting game.)
- You’ll spend months complaining about how your kid never sleeps. However, when they finally snooze through the night, you’ll panic and check their breathing every few hours.
- You will become so accustomed to kid poop that you will hardly even notice it, even at times when you probably should.
- You will learn overwhelming empathy for the parents of children who scream in grocery stores, movie theaters, planetariums, et. al.
- You will gain somewhere between 10 and 30 pounds, unless you’re that one parent who magically stayed fit despite working full-time and raising twins. (Yes, I consider diet and exercise “magic.”) By the way, if you are that parent, I hate you.
- Your child will break something you considered irreplaceable. You’ll be more relieved that your kid isn’t hurt than angry. But you’ll still be a little angry.
- You will be prouder, angrier, happier, and more exhausted than was conceivable pre-children.
These are all normal. None of these events inherently mean that you’re a bad parent or that your kid is a sociopath. It just means that you’re a parent and they’re a kid. At least, I think that’s what it means. I might be wrong, though. I’m pretty new to all of this, too.