A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, according to Lao Tzu.
Well, your journey as a parent has finally begun. You and your partner are expecting a child, and even though the baby isn’t in your arms yet, you’re already actively parenting.
You’re arranging schedules and family visits for the delivery day. You’re purchasing baby clothes and planning out how you want the baby’s room to look. You are taking vitamins, avoiding certain foods, watching your blood pressure—not for your health, but for someone else.
So here is why I believe that no matter how many days pass as a mother or father, you never fall into some predetermined parental role that you can never escape. To be a parent at all, means that you are capable of change whether you realize it or not.
Think about it, you’ve been changing for your baby from the beginning.
Most of the time, the sex of your baby is determined at 18-20 weeks via ultrasound. So 126 days into being a parent, if you were hoping for a girl and got a boy, you’re already going to have to make a few adjustments.
Obviously, you’ll still love your child no matter their gender, so that alone proves that you’ll be able to roll with the parental punches.
At 210 days, you’ll have a clear idea of what lays ahead in terms of your baby’s health.
My wife has a robertsonian translocation, so we were expecting to discover birth defects at some point during our pregnancies. We did. We lost seven babies in utero. Nothing can prepare you for something like that.
It would’ve been easy and understandable for my wife to give up on her dream of becoming a mother, but thank God she didn’t, because now I have two healthy girls.
If you end up facing challenges related to your child’s health, you’ll inevitably rise to meet them. A natural birth might not be an option for the sake of your baby’s health, so you might need to have a C-section instead.
You’ll be amazed how easily you’ll change your plans for someone you love.
At 280 days, give or take, your baby will have finally arrived, and now change is going to slap you so hard it’ll rattle your teeth.
The baby is tiny, fragile, excessively needy. It relies solely on you to figure out those needs and fulfill them. And guess what? Every child is different.
My first kid had horrible reflux from the time she was born until we finally figured out what was causing it at six months old. We didn’t sleep much with her. My second had no reflux but was much needier in terms of attention.
You will have to adapt to your little one’s own unique wants and needs if you’re going to be successful as a parent.
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At 462 days-ish, your little one will be six months old.
They’ll have transformed from a helpless blob of tears and yelling into a tiny dictator that lovingly rules over your heart.
You’ll be trying solid foods with them for the first time. If you never thought you were good at cleaning, wait until you start solids with a baby. You’ll be a pro in under a week.
Your child will also start sitting up on their own. You’ll be amazed as your body transforms into that of an Olympic athlete the first time you sprint across the room to keep them from hitting their head the first time they fall over.
At 645 days, your child will be one year old.
You’ve learned so much about them, grown to meet their needs, and more change is on the way.
They’ll be walking soon if they aren’t already, and talking. You’ll have to chase after them and decipher their cute little mispronounced words.
Your child doesn’t stay the same. Every day they’ll learn a little more, push boundaries, explore and adventure, and you’re going to have to rise to the challenges they bring into your life.
Are you starting to see what I mean? To be a parent is to be fluid and dynamic, to be capable of adapting and overcoming, the only time you’ll ever be stuck doing things a certain way is if you convince yourself you can’t. But if you look at how far you’ve come already, you’ll know that’s not the case.
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Another 365 days later and your child will be just over a 1,000 days old.
They’ll be capable of so many complex emotions and feelings by now. Their little personalities will be shining like beacons, each one so unique and special.
You’ll have moved on from only coddling them to using words like “no” and seeing which forms of discipline are best suited to keeping them safe and well-adjusted.
They’ll have favorite books and TV shows and a favorite Disney movie. If you don’t think you’re capable of change, wait until you’ve watched Moana for the one hundredth time. You’ll realize what a cinematic masterpiece it is, regardless of how you felt about it in the beginning.
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Hopefully by now, you’ll understand the point I’ve been trying to make.
You and your child will always change. How you raise them and challenges they face during their first thousand days here on this earth will have a profound effect on the way they live their life, but it won’t doom them to an eternity of horrible character flaws or trap them in a certain career from which they have no hope of escaping.
Both you and your child have been evolving as people since the day you came into this world, and you won’t stop until the day you leave it.
You’ll never be too old to try something new. They’ll never be so stubborn that they can’t change their ways. Neither of you will ever experience something so traumatic you can’t get past it, as long as you remind yourselves that you have been adapting and overcoming challenges since the beginning.
The only person who will ever ultimately determine how your life turns out is you.