I’ve been collecting a list of lessons that I have learned from my first two years of parenting. The list was getting long so I thought it was time to post it here. I may add, revise or edit the list in the future, perhaps in a couple months at the time of Clara’s second birthday, and it may eventually become the framework for a book on the subject. Either way, here is what I have so far.
1. The parent who assumes the tougher position in regards to expectations and discipline is almost always correct.
2. Writing to your child on a daily basis helps you better appreciate the moments with your little one and prevents you from wondering why times flies by so quickly.
3. Training your child to fall sleep on her own and sleep through the night takes about two weeks if done with tenacity, an iron will and an absolute adherence to the advice of experts. Parents must also possess the grudging acceptance that thunderstorms, nightmares and illness will upset the apple cart from time to time.
4. You cannot take too many photographs of your baby.
5. Taking care of a baby in the first two years of life is not nearly as difficult as people want you to believe.
6. Telling parents that taking care of your child has been an easy and joyous experience will usually annoy them.
7. Changing a diaper is not a big deal and is never something worthy of whines or complaints.
8. A great majority of the people in the world who are raising children are not happy unless they have attempted to demoralize you with their assurances that parenting will not be easy.
9. Experienced parents who are positive, optimistic and encouraging to the parents of newborns are difficult to come by and should be treasured when found.
10. Experienced parents always know which toys are best.
11. Unsolicited advice from experienced parents should always be received with appreciation. It should not be viewed as a criticism or indictment of your own parenting skills and can be easily ignored if need be.
12. There is absolutely no reason for a child under eighteen months old to be watching television on a daily basis.
13. Consignment shops are some of the best places to find children’s clothing and toys unless you are a pretentious snob.
14. Parents seeking the most fashionable or trendy stroller, diaper bag, and similar accouterments are often saddled with the least practical option.
15. Little boys and little girls are entirely different animals. They have almost nothing in common, and it is a miracle that they might one day marry each other.
16. The ratio of happy times to difficult times in the first two years of your child’s life is about a billion to one.
17. Parents have a tragic tendency to forget the billion and accentuate the one.