First time moms have made many misconceptions about parenting. See if you can relate to these parenting myths and realities about being a mom.
Toward the end of my first pregnancy, you’d often find me getting up to use the bathroom up to five times a night.
All this peeing in the middle of the night is to prepare for sleep deprivation, I had believed. If this is what sleepless nights looked like with a baby, then I’ll be okay.
Little did I know that waking up five times a night to pee would bear little resemblance to waking up with a baby. Not only did I wake up more frequently than that, but I couldn’t simply fall back asleep, either. However uncomfortable pregnancy was, it was nothing compared to caring for a baby.
8 misconceptions about parenting:
As a first-time mom, you won’t experience what it’s really like until you’re in that moment. Being prepared helps, as at least you’re not caught totally off-guard. But until you’re there, it’s easy to make many misconceptions about parenting before becoming one.
Sleep deprivation is just one example of the many misconceptions I’ve made. Take a look at these common parenting myths first time moms often believe about parenthood:
1. That your baby will be a genius
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I actually thought that if I did X, Y and Z, my baby would turn out above average. You know—smarter, healthier, the next Einstein with off-the-charts IQ.
Yes, research shows that DHA contributes to brain development, and much has been said about the benefits of breast milk. But then you learn that you don’t make your baby. You raise them to the best of your ability and let nature take the other half.
My kids have done well academically, and of course I’m proud of their skills and talents and believe I’m able to play a small part in that. But in no way are they the next child prodigy, nor can I guarantee that they’ll excel in everything.
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2. That you won’t have clutter
You know what I’m talking about. The swing, the exersaucer, the bouncy seats. The two strollers and baby gear you swore you wouldn’t allow to clutter your minimalist home. “Our baby will just make do,” I told myself. “He won’t need a baby carrier,” (got one) “or a Moby wrap,” (bought two).
And while we don’t buy too many toys, they still have a few strewn around the house. “He’ll have his designated area for toys, and the rest of the house will remain the same.” Or so I thought, as I pick my way through a clutter of toys across the living room floor, kitchen, and even our bedroom.
3. That you’ll never expose your baby to the mall, the grocery, or any other commercialism
I worked in marketing so I know all the tricks. I’m also frugal and try not to buy things just because I can. Take my baby to the mall? Never! And no, I won’t bring him to the grocery where he’ll want to buy goldfish crackers and leprechaun cereal.
Or so I thought.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken my babies to the mall, whether on a stroll or to hang out in the play area. And yep, they’ve gone with me to the grocery many times. While I won’t buy junk food galore, I’ll ask them to point out items they’d like to snack on.
4. That you’ll be productive during maternity leave
One of the biggest misconceptions about parenting? That we’ll have so much time during maternity leave.
“I’ll do some freelance work after the baby is born,” I had said.
Except I never got one project going (or even bothered to reach out to clients). Nor did I finish the baby book I had started (it’s still not finished, which is why I didn’t bother to buy them for the twins). I couldn’t finish the novel I was reading, whereas I could easily finish at least one book every week, pre-baby.
My co-worker and I were laughing about this “maternity leave is free time” mentality. “I thought I was going to finish knitting the baby’s blanket,” she mused. “It’s still not finished and he’s already two!”
Lesson learned. Maternity leave is for resting, healing, and baby bonding. And lots of watching Netflix on your iPhone while you feed the baby in the middle of the night. Because you will watch, oh… twenty movies in a week.
5. That you’ll take your baby everywhere you go
When I was pregnant, I’d see moms with their one-year-olds toddling alongside and thought, I can’t wait to do that when my baby is born!
Why did I not realize that that mom’s baby was walking and much older than the tiny baby I had just given birth to? All those leisure moments at the park with a toddler come much later—not when they’re five weeks old and crying in the stroller.
I could even date the exact moment when I realized I was on a “real outing” with my eldest. I was ordering a crepe with him, then five-months-old, and we were waiting for my food to cook. As he was sitting on my lap, it dawned on me, “We’re hanging out! And just for fun!”
6. That you won’t feel down and depressed
One of the misconceptions about parenting is that feeling down and depressed won’t affect us.
“I remember crying and feeling down during those post-partum months,” a co-worker admitted. Meanwhile, I was thinking, That won’t happen to me. I’m a positive person—she must be prone to feeling down and sad.
Wrong again. While I didn’t have depression that required a doctor’s attention, I still felt miserable. To the point where I wondered what I had gotten myself into, and wishing I could have my old life back.
New moms don’t realize how different parenthood can be. It’s normal not to love every minute (or even most of it) just yet. It does get better, but it’s pretty hard to believe that during those early months.
7. That breastfeeding is easy
For some, breastfeeding could be easy, like when I breastfed the twins the second time around (zero pain whatsoever). But wow, with my first baby, it took major effort to stick with breastfeeding. It’s painful and draining (especially when everyone tells you to feed him any time he cries).
I’d hop on the computer every day to read the benefits of breastfeeding to keep me motivated. Thankfully after about a month, breastfeeding became much easier.
8. That labor is the hardest part about parenting
It’s not. Labor is nothing compared to the physical exhaustion those first few weeks and the mental drain of 24/7 mom duty.
I was genuinely afraid of giving birth, thinking that this physical feat must be the hardest part of being a parent.
Yes, you might have complications like I did with my twins. You might not choose or be able to get an epidural, which heightens the physical pain of the contractions and pushing. But once labor is done, it’s done. The real challenge comes after you leave the hospital and manage your baby alone.
My advice to first time moms: Prepare, research, plan… then go with the flow. You’ll have many opinions and assumptions about being a parent that may not come true.
I thought I could literally make my baby into a genius, that I wouldn’t fill our home with clutter, or that I’ll never expose him to commercialism. I pictured myself having plenty of time during maternity leave, and that I’d bring my baby on all sorts of outings.
Feeling down and depressed never seemed like a possibility, nor that breastfeeding would be a challenge. And labor seemed like the hardest part of parenting, when really, that’s just the start of it.
Thankfully, we learn as we go along. As they say, parenting is the most “learn on the job” job there could be, misconceptions and all.
Get more tips:
- 5 Maya Angelou Quotes that Apply to Parenthood
- 7 Ideas to Pull Yourself Out of a Bad Parenting Day
- What to Do When Your Husband Doesn’t Help with the Baby Because He Works
- 14 Funny Things People without Kids Say
- Are You Living Through Your Kids? Why You Should Find Your Own Meaning
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