Skills of Early Parenthood

Jared mentioned learning in a sociology class how it has been shown that women who wear a wedding ring to a job interview are less likely to get a job and men who wear one are more likely to get one. The women are perceived as more likely to be flaky because it is assumed their first loyalties are to their families. Men are perceived as more likely to be reliable because they have a stable family situation. He said his professor laughed at how ridiculous this was and mentioned how many (marketable!) skills she has had to learn as a new parent. This got me thinking about some of the skills I put to use on a daily basis in my role as a mom. There is definitely a lot more to it than changing diapers and reading board books, though those are important too!

Prioritizing
This morning, the baby pooped so I took off his diaper to find a blowout (rare with cloth diapers, but they still do sometimes happen). He squirmed away before I could wipe him, and got poop on a pillow that was on the floor. So I had a naked baby, a poopy diaper that needed to be sprayed off, and a dirty pillow. What to do first? I set the diaper on the changing table, wiped off the baby, put a new diaper on him, then dealt with the dirty diaper and the pillow.

Problem Solving
I closed the door to the baby’s room so he could play while I sprayed off his dirty diaper. He decided to stand up against the door. When I finished, he started to fuss because he could hear me but couldn’t see me, but he also didn’t realize that he had to stop leaning against the door if he wanted me to come in. Pushing over the door and knocking him over didn’t seem like a good option. I grabbed one of his favorite toys from the next room, then opened the door gently, just a crack, and threw the toy in. It worked! He got down from the door to go for the toy, and I could open the door the rest of the way to come in.

Coming together despite differences
Jonas and I regularly attend a play group for moms and babies born in 2012-2014. There are members who are very similar to us, values and interest wise, and those who are pretty different. We always have fun when we go, and it has shown me that I can have friends who are friends because of a shared life experience or stage, and not necessarily because we like the same music.

Negotiation
You don’t want to sit in the high chair anymore while I finish cleaning up from our meal? What if I sing Chantilly Lace and do a ridiculous dance with it? Perfect.

You don’t want to let go of the toilet paper? Have a rubber duck! Everyone’s happy.

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Not Avoiding Uncomfortable Situations
This is one I am still working on. I noticed if the baby starts fussing, my first instinct is to look away. If I look him in the eyes, though, it actually will usually calm him down. Plus, I want him to know that his feelings are heard and that I am there for him, even when his feelings are difficult.

Asking for Help
This one is still a challenge for me as well. I am working on it every day!

Dealing with Change
Just when I think I have mommyhood figured out, it is different! Teething! Crawling! Sometimes things that used to work don’t work anymore. Sometimes I have to try things that haven’t worked in months and suddenly they are perfect again. I’ve also learned to see the joy in this! How amazing to have a baby who is learning at such an incredible pace that it can feel like being with a new human every day!

Just Keep Going
This one is the biggest. Sometimes I am running on four hours of sleep. I haven’t showered in four days. My arms are sore. I just want a break. Parenthood, particularly when I am the only one at home, or when I am the only person who can provide the kind of care needed (those middle of the night nursing sessions, for example), has shown me that even when I am exhausted, when there is parenting to do, you just do it.

Other Knowledge and Skills
I have become more proficient in nutrition and food preparation, in cognitive development and human psychology, house cleaning and maintenance, and even in American Sign Language. I have gotten physically stronger from carrying the baby.

So far, being a parent, as cliche as it sounds, has been the most difficult, but most rewarding job I have done.┬áIt is so awesome to have a “job” that is just MY LIFE, if that makes sense. There isn’t a separation between what I do and who I am, and that makes even the hard parts amazing. I am learning and growing every day and am so thankful.

 

 

  1. And it is true even for parents of adult children!l

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