There Is No Degree In Parenting

It’s 3 am. Breastfeeding this kid is still not easy. Should I reposition? Is he getting enough milk? Oh wait, there’s a small red bump near his eye. Is it a rash? Coming down with something? Dr. House would think it’s sarcoidosis. Can sarcoidosis be transmitted to the cat?

Do you know what I learned from all of these middle-of-the-night questions?

  1. My two degrees in early childhood education did not include anything about breastfeeding.
  1. I now worry like a stereotypical mom.
  1. Lack of sleep really does impair rational thinking.

New moms have SO much to think about, worry about, and lose sleep about aside from the actual baby. No matter if it’s breast or bottle, we’re always worried about how much they’re eating, whether they are growing alright, and how much they actually consumed after all of that spit up.  

We worry about every little thing out of love and fear that something could happen to this amazing little person. And these worries become even crazier with each hour of sleeplessness.

Maybe you took a helpful course before the baby arrived. They talked about swaddling, feeding, diapers, and all the essentials. And you felt pretty good walking out of that class thinking, “Ok, I can do this!”

Fast-forward a few weeks, and you may feel like you’re already failing as a mom because you forgot an extra pair of pants when you left the house. There’s so much on our plates. So much to remember. And so many new worries that cloud your otherwise very organized mind!

Breathe, mama, breathe! 

Did you keep the baby alive? Check. Did you keep yourself alive? Check. Have you both eaten something today (even if it was ice cream)? Check.

That’s a great start. And sometimes that is enough. Take everything day by day, sometimes hour by hour.  It’s so much easier for me to sit here and write this to you here on the other side, but I’m telling you from the collective wisdom of tons of mamas, you’ve got this

Right before my son was born, I wasn’t too worried. After all, I have the student loans to prove how much I had already learned about young children and the best way to help guide their development. I worked for years with all age groups, so swaddling and diapering was like second nature. And then breastfeeding happened.

Or it didn’t happen; it depends on who you ask at that time. We struggled… a lot. How could this be so hard? Put boob in mouth, baby eats. Somewhere during the second round of mastitis, I realized how much I still have to learn as a mom. 

There’s no degree in parenting.

There’s no way to learn everything you need to know. If a degree existed, would it make moms feel like they can do everything at every stage?

No degree could ever explain the far-reaching effects of sleeplessness. No degree could ever prepare you for postpartum recovery while caring for another dependent person. No degree could ever rationally explain the crazy worries we have at 3 am.

We’re all figuring it out one way or another. Be kind to yourself, eat the ice cream, and breathe. Stop looking at social media. The extremes of everyone else’s “perfect” life or the “everything’s a mess, where’s the wine?” will make you even more crazy at 3 am.

Just know you will figure this out, and your kid will love you every step of the way. 

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