Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The Veteran New Parent

As a teenager, I fully absorbed the stories of my parents and their friends, the couples who fell 

in love in high school or soon after, got married, had babies young, and moved on to pursue their dreams.  

My own story didn’t play out quite that way, and I turned 32 when my first child was six months old.  I was never exactly a “young parent,” even while being a new parent. Fast forward nine years, and I’m once again a “new” parent, with my youngest about to turn two, but I’m also a veteran.  It’s unexpected territory based on the novels I expected my life to follow.

Since our little one is fully a toddler, we have successfully navigated the waters of sleep training, starting solids, and moving out of the infant car seat. In our near future is the transition to preschool and the trauma-inducing (to me, not to my child…) departure from the crib, and, someday (soon? please?), potty training.

Raising a third child, raising a toddler in my 40s means that I have a clear sense of the basic milestones. I know when certain phases should end.  But everything is still new for my little one. Just because I’m a “veteran” parent, it doesn’t mean I’m also not a new parent. 

While I can measure my third little wilding’s milestones against those of his siblings - he’s exactly on par or slightly ahead on everything but talking, which is no surprise since we all know what he needs, when he needs it and also fully comprehend that when he loses complete control of his tongue, he wants a banana - I am also in the midst of raising a baby during a pandemic.  This kiddo skipped daycare entirely thanks to a combination of my own fear and a grandparent willing to take on childcare responsibilities. I’m new to sending a two-year-old to preschool, when he has no daycare experience.  

The experts in my life seem to respect my needs and concerns more now that I am an “experienced” parent. Medical professionals don’t blink when I tell them about each child’s particular set of needs - they don’t question that I understand my own children, while as a first-time parent, my observations were always questioned.  Friends reach out when their children reach a phase that my children have already passed through - I’ve become an expert, in my own right, but I’m still new.

Even though the vaccine schedule and the milestones haven’t changed in the more than nine years since I was a first-time parent, I’m still new to so much. I’m new to being the parent of three children, new to juggling three schedules, new to communicating with three different teachers.  I’m new to three bedtimes, three little voices while I drive, three sets of dietary demands. I’m new to experiencing “the big kid years” alongside the toddler years.

Honestly, aren’t we all new, all the time? Each day, each year, each phase, we must encounter for the first time.  As parents, we are constantly encountering the unexpected and learning how to manage them with grace (we hope). 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.