What the parenting books don’t tell you
Last week my husband Jason and I welcomed our second child with the birth of our daughter, Elsie Hampton.
We were blessed that little Elsie arrived healthy and happy. And we were proud to add another addition to our growing family.
With our first child, our son James, we were both frightened as new parents. I can remember feeling like we would break James when we held his small body in our arms for the first time. Every time a bottle nipple or pacifier hit the floor, we rushed over the stove to throw it in a boiling pot of water. With every noise or grunt, we would run into the room with determination and a little fear to find out what was wrong with our newborn.
When I gave birth to James, we were so nervous to leave the hospital after those first two days. When the doctor finally gave us permission to go home, a hot sweat rushed over me as we made our way to the car.
Jason and I were both a nervous wreck. Jason drove home at about 15 miles per hour so that we wouldn’t shake James in his car seat. When we arrived home, we were running around like chickens with our heads cut off.
My Momma even came over for a few nights because I was on the verge of tears. I wasn’t sure what to do in certain situations, and I kept thinking I wasn’t a good mother because I wasn’t sure of what I was doing.
I must admit, there were times when I would sit alone with a few of those “parenting” books, determined to find the perfect way to raise a child.
James, as with many firstborns, was almost like our experiment child with Jason and me. We weren’t quite sure what to do when a fever struck in the middle of the night. I almost cried when his cord stump fell off because I thought we did something wrong. Diaper changes resembled a NASCAR pit with Jason and I helping each other out. And I can’t count the number of times we would both call our mothers with hundreds of questions.
Things are so different with Elsie. I would like to think that it works that way with most parents after they have another child.
At the hospital after Elsie’s birth, we weren’t nervous at all about returning home. We were excited, anxious and ready to introduce Elsie to her new world.
We aren’t as nervous with Elsie as we were with James. We aren’t as obsessive compulsive about dropped pacifiers or stained pants. We both can change a diaper with one hand holding the wipes, the other hand holding the diaper and the rash creme tube in our mouths. Sickness is handled with a cool head and not a frantic call to the 24-hour help line at the hospital.
I threw all those parenting books away or are using them as cup coasters now. We can tolerate those late night cry fests and hearty feedings with more patience now.
And so far we have made no phone calls to our mothers in a state of panic.
Jason and I don’t have all the answers to parenting. We aren’t experts by any means, and even with two little ones now we are still learning. As with many young parents and older ones who remember those first years, we are hanging on by the seat of our pants for this crazy ride.
And we’re loving every minute of it.
Our parenting techniques may change with our newest family addition. But there is one thing that hasn’t changed.
The love we have for our children is as strong as ever. The love a parent has for their child is constant, never-changing and strong.
That’s something you don’t need a parenting book to know.
Jamie Patterson is a reporter for The Yazoo Herald. Contact her by email at jamie @yazooheral.net.