1. Raising a kid will make your worry about everythingAsk my wife, I'm a worrier by nature. If something can be worried about, chances are I'm already fretting over it. Becoming a parent just set this into overdrive. "What is that red mark on his leg?!", "That table has sharp edges!", "Can he swallow that?", "Did he just swallow that?!" These are all things that I have said and said fairly often in our house. As my son begins to walk, I'm sure that will introduce a whole new set of fears to worry about. You can't change it, just roll with it and do your best to make sure it doesn't get too out of control.
2. Changing diapers really isn't that bad...usually
Everyone fears it - the dreaded dirty diaper. You see horror stories online, hear them from your parents (usually about you), or see them memorialized in movies. Dirty diapers are not fun and when you are a first time parent, it's something that will make any sane person nervous. But in reality, they aren't that bad. Sure, changing another kid's diaper may be bad, but this is your son/daughter. He's a perfect blend of you and your partner and you love everything about him, even when his diaper didn't do it's one sole job on this Earth and keep the poop in the freaking diaper and now it's up his back and on your arm and oh god he's rolling around!!! Yeah, blowouts suck, no disguising that, but you get over it and sooner than you think you'll be changing diapers like a pro.
3. My wife is a superheroNo really, she is. Her super power is surviving on as little sleep as humanly possible and she does one hell of a job with it. Before we had kids, my wife and I agreed that I would be the person who works and she would be the stay at home mom. She is currently taking a few years off work to raise our son while I continue to work. On weeknights, if Jack wakes up, she is the one who is up and rocking him and trying to get him back to bed. Part of this is due to the fact we are exclusively breastfeeding but the other part is that I have to be up at 6 to go to work. On weekends I'll let her sleep in a little longer while I take Jack down in the morning but the lion's share of midnight playdates and 2am feedings are done by my wife, the superhero.
4. Money is great, but you will realize you can survive on a lot less than you thought
Going back to my previous point, my wife and I made the conscious decision to eliminate one of our salaries from the mix and live exclusively on mine. It's hard, don't let me fool you with that. Sometimes it's extremely hard and we have amazing parents who have helped us out when we needed it, but in the end we found that how we lived before we had kids was pretty wasteful. We really didn't need to order out so much or take those Target trips that somehow cost $200 for things we truly didn't need. Some parents can't do this though and we are extremely thankful that I make enough to raise our family on my salary. If it's a possibility with yours, I highly recommend it because there is nothing like the peace of mind knowing your son is with your wife/partner while you are at work.
5. There is no such thing as "baby proofed"
You can try to baby proof your house, but you won't. You'll only partially baby proof it. Your kid will find holes in your defenses and penetrate what you thought impenetrable. The best you can do is try to minimize the possibility of harm and baby proof everything you can. You'll find things you missed over time (hopefully not after an injury) and that's ok, just baby proof things as you find it and you'll do just fine. But remember, you have a master tactician on your hands and your feeble attempts at defense are laughable at best.
6. Google is your friend but also your worst enemy
Let's face it, Google can be great. If you need to find a great place to eat this Saturday and want to get some reviews - Google it. Want to find the cheapest tickets to this Sunday's game but don't know where to look - Google it. Want to find out what that rash is on your kid's belly but can't make it into the doctor's office right away - Goog...wait, no, don't do that. Chances are you're just going to scare yourself over a forum post where some woman knew a friend whose mother's lawn guy died because of a tiny rash on their belly which ended up being a xenomorph chestburster waiting to come out. You're better off asking your pediatrician over the phone what they think and then following through on their recommendations. Google is great, just not for healthcare needs.
7. Pictures become more valuable than gold
When you have kids, something changes in your brain and you feel you must document everything. A new smile? Snap a picture. Baby looking awesome in that new Oriole shirt? Take a picture. Going to the zoo? Take hundreds of pictures. These pictures pile up over time and become one of your most prized possessions. They are glimpses into the past and visually depict the subtle changes over time you may not have noticed in person. Back them up and then back them up again but also remember to be present in the moment. That's something that we as parents can often easily forget. If you're too busy documenting, you may find yourself on the outside looking in when you should have been a part of the memories themselves. Find a delicate balance and go with it. Also, get a nice camera and for goodness sake record in landscape mode if you're using your phone.
8. A sleeping baby on your shoulder is heaven on Earth
No words needed, just the picture over to the left. That is the best thing ever.
My wife and I are only 10 mos. in and we have a long journey ahead of us. I anticipate that we'll be learning a ton more along the way as the months go by. If you have kids of your own, what have you learned since your child has been born? Let me know in the comments what I have to look forward to as Jack continues to grow.