Parenthood is quite a learning experience. But you’re prepared. You have studied, you have practiced, you have researched. You know all about diapers, feedings, sleep habits, and toys. You have the entire “Baby Einstein” DVD collection, and you’re prepared to watch them every day with your baby. You bought all the best parenting books, and you’ve read them all twice over. But there are some things you just can’t study for.
Here are a few of the things your mother probably never warned you about:
Mommy Lesson #1: Gag reflex
Babies all go through a phase at one point or another when they learn how far they can stick their fingers down their throat before they gag. Some babies do this upwards of 10 times a day – they’re going for the world record, you know. That takes practice. During this time, a mommy goes through an accompanying phase in which she learns the best methods for cleaning baby vomit off of the couch.
Mommy Lesson #2: The appeal of poop
There is nothing more intriguing to a baby than the feel of her own poop. She doesn’t like it on her bottom (which is where she put it in the first place), but once the diaper comes off, she becomes an octopus with one goal in mind: touch the poop! Arms flailing, mouth wide in gleeful anticipation, eyes set with determination, she will not stop until she gets her fingers in the gooey goodness. Great fun for baby, not so much for Mommy.
Mommy Lesson #3: Paper is a good source of fiber
Almost as intriguing as poop is the delectable flavor of paper. A baby is like a paper-seeking missile, able to lock on to a tiny scrap of newsprint from two rooms away. Phonebooks and classic literature are especially tasty. At least five times a day a new mom will find her child rolling something around in her mouth, which upon investigation invariably turns out to be paper. And no matter how many times you “rescue” the paper from her jaws, you will certainly find little pieces of it in her diaper the next day. Fabulous.
Mommy Lesson #4: Such a tease!
A baby is not interested in the person who is actually paying attention to her. She will cry with the pouty face and stretch her arms into the air, eager to be picked up. So you scoop her into your arms for a snuggle, and she immediately turns around and looks at Daddy. If Daddy isn’t available, she will look at the television, the window, the mirror, or the warning sticker on her swing. Yes, that sticker is quite amazing… it has words and it doesn’t move or have any fun colors, but even it is preferable to Mommy’s face. This can be disheartening, until the moment that she reaches for Daddy – once safe in his arms, Mommy once again becomes the focus of her little world, and all wounds are healed. Victory!
Mommy Lesson #5: Little things mean so much
But perhaps the biggest lesson you will learn through this adventure called motherhood is how one look, one smile, one squeeze of a finger, can mean the entire world when it comes from your child. How one tear rolling down that perfect little cheek can plunge your heart into darkness until the smiles return. A child is pure joy, pure love. You will never know the heart’s capacity to love another until you feel that love for a child.