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Things I Wish I'd Known Before Parenthood

by Heather K. Grace |
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Children reawaken in us lessons long forgotten; perspectives lost in the clutter of our adult lives. My sister is due this month to give birth to her second child.

As an aunt-in-awe of all that her first child, Katie, has taught me-from truly appreciating a rock's beauty to marching (around the kitchen) to the beat of a different drummer,- I'm looking forward to rediscovering
life through this little person's eyes.

In celebration of the lessons children provide us, I asked some recent parents what their youngsters have taught them thus far. Most people, fathers included, said they'd learned to put their careers on the back burner for their children-intentionally. Shona Murray, a Toronto doctor, says that her daughters have shown her the value in making sacrifices for the sake of family. "The number of academic papers published in one year is just not all that important," she explains. Rosemary Gretton, a stay-at-home-mom, agrees with Shona. "A successful career is not as important to me as it once was. I find that there is so much more to living, and children make it richer." For Chris Lavin, a baby girl has forced him to see the world in a whole new light. "I thought that after two degrees, and years of experience in the real world, that I was somewhat intelligent. Boy, was I wrong. I don't have a clue!" Chris learned that the myriad of books on raising children often offer conflicting points of view. "Ignore the books. Okay, don't ignore them," he says, "But realize that there is room for interpretation. You will know what is best by how you feel. Trust your instincts. God's no dummy; he designed us to protect these little monsters."

Chris' advice is just one of the hundreds of pointers young parents said they wish they'd known before they had their first child. For all the parents-to-be out there, this list is a gift from them, to you:

I Wish I Had Known Before I Became A Parent...

That everyone else will become an "expert" on what to feed my child; how to get him to sleep; what he should wear. Trust my own instincts; I know my child best.

That I should make time each day for my spouse and for myself.

That uninterrupted sleep would become a distant memory.

That every bag and coat pocket from now on would hold a secret supply of cheerios, cookies and crackers.

That I'd point out the window and say, "look at the choo choo train!" when there were no children in the car.

That a "Pack and Play" ( fold-up play pen/crib) would allow us to stay at a friend's house past 7:30 p.m.!

That I'd have problems practicing what I preach.

That children love to be naked. But that naked children pee. Protect the carpet, hardwood, furniture, pets! Chase naked children with a towel!

Moms

That I am a lot like my mother. That I'll remember all the things she would or wouldn't let me do as a child, and will suddenly understand why.

That I wouldn't be able to go to the washroom by myself for a long time.

Dads

That I'd have to go without for a long time.

That I should check all electronic toys for a LOW volume button before buying them!

That I'd forever be running behind schedule; there is not enough time to do all the things that need to be done. Does it really matter?

That children become what they see and hear. My child will mimic what I've said to him in anger, with the same intonation, to his little brother. I need to watch all that I say!

That I should write down all the funny things my child says and words they make up. The stories will bring me joy and laughter years from now, when my child has left the nest.

That "Going to a movie" would become renting a video; "Going to the restaurant" would become ordering in pizza or going through the McDonald's Drive-Thru; and "Exciting" would be defined by each new thing my child learns to say or do.

That my heart would grow larger and more full of love with each new day I spend with my child.

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