Alright, let’s clear this up, parenting is very much a touchy and sensitive subject. Everyone does it differently AND everyone has had a parent figure in their lives.
(And I’ll be honest – I’m a first time dad
working stumbling his way through the first six months)
Different isn’t “wrong“, it’s just unfamiliar or unlike your own experience.
This is when a growth mindset needs to kick in – invest in mistakes, embrace them as opportunities and see the potential within them.
Coz’ there is a definite thing you can count on with parenting, a HUGE number of mistakes will be made…with this collection of mistakes eventually turning into an adult.
When my wife and I first found out we were expecting, after high fiving/hugging (known in the Steele household as “High Fugging“), I remember thinking,
“I don’t know anything… about anything”
How to raise kids.
What the hell swaddling is.
What to do when they are sick.
How you survive on no sleep.
Then the baby came.
It was during the first three days of Little T joining the Steele clan that I received the greatest piece of parenting advice from my mother-in-law. Like all worthwhile pieces of advice it is short and sweet.
Just treat them like the fourth child.
When I first heard this I wasn’t in the right head space. Surviving through the first couple of nights of snuffling, screaming, wheezing, dinosaur newborn noises didn’t allow me to process this properly.
I simply did what I usually do with unsolicited advice: smile AND nod.
The tricky part for me is that my brilliant second mum knows me well and had thought this through – she casually dropped this advice into conversation numerous times over the next couple of weeks.
I knew it had sunk in when we were half way through packing the car for our very first family holiday…13 days after Little T’s birth. While
cramming placing the second bassinet into the back of the car (and completely freaking out) I heard myself saying, “Yeah, but if she was the fourth born she’d just have to get involved in the family holiday”.*
If Little T was our fourth-born there really wouldn’t be much choice.
It was mid-way through school holidays, so our three imaginary kids would be going nuts trapped within the confines of home. They’d need a break.
More importantly, we’d need a break.
Which would lead to Little T enjoying her first family holiday…we’d just skipped ahead a few years (and kids).
That’s the thing – this advice works in just about every situation.
Going out for dinner and leaving her with our parents a week after birth? Yep.
Letting others hold and cuddle her? Definitely.
Taking her for an adventure to a recently opened brewery for her Dad’s birthday afternoon festivities? Sure thing.
Of course, not every effort is a success.
Like that time we successfully managed to ruin our local farmer’s market (yes, we were trying our best to embrace the Nonchalant-Organically-Inclined-Hipster lifestyle) it’s safe to say we won’t be welcome back for quite a while.
(I think people’s ears may have nearly started bleeding after all the high-pitched shrieking that took place…which certainly tested out all those hipsters’ nonchalance).
But you know what? That certainly won’t stop us (mainly because there are more markets) because it’s the effort that counts and how we learn from our mistakes.
Whenever possible, remind yourself that if they were your fourth child they’d already be sucked into family adventures.
Then celebrate the successes, big or SMALL…with some High Fugging.
*This was said in between much swearing and screaming at a range of inanimate objects that wouldn’t read my mind and move themselves into appropriate places in the back of the car
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