It's a maze and a whirlwind of successes and failures and laughter and tears. It's the constant influx of articles and op-eds telling you how to feed your child, what they should be wearing and how they should be sleeping. It's the looks you receive in the market when your child lies down on the floor and starts screaming. It's the constant loop of, "be gentle" and "it's time to use our inside voices." I mean of course it's filled with all the magical moments of watching a human become a person.
Before I had AB I was anxious about all of these unknowns. Breastfeeding... how does it work? What's a dreamfeed? Should she have a paci... what kind? But here's an interesting thing I didn't think about, at all: will it be easy for her to make friends? What kind of person will she be?
The other day after AB made a new friend at the park, we were walking home and she was so excited to tell her Daddy. "The big kids and little kids at school don't like me, but Sonja (new friend) likes me." Now, toddlers are toddlers and what they say one moment is gone the next. AB has friends at school. I've seen them. She tells me daily about Ryleigh and Taylor and Chloe and Sadie and Zhuraya and the Lucas. But, even knowing that, when you hear your little babe say that the other kids don't like them, you go into instant: HOW COULD ANYONE NOT LIKE YOU? YOU ARE THE SWEETEST POTATO IN THE WHOLE WORLD AND EVERYONE SHOULD LOVE YOU. Or... is that just me?
The truth of the matter is that I spent so much time focusing early on, on learning how long I could leave breastmilk out at room temp for, it didn't really occur to me that all that shit is for the birds. Of course making sure your child is fed and clothed and happy is crucial, so I'm not downplaying the art that is feeding a baby... just that, there's so much more.
Like, what kind of person will she be? Will she be the girl who sees a lonely stranger and invites that person to join her at the lunch table? Will she fall to peer pressure and make fun of a kid, or stand silently by? Worse, will she be the bully?
I remember my own experiences being bullied throughout school. I don't really focus on them now mostly because generally when I reflect, I think others had it much worse, and to dwell is to dwell. But they were real experiences and they did happen... and regardless of whether I'm aware of it or not, I'm sure they've shaped how I respond to a variety of situations and different personalities today.
I hope AB and AB2 will be the friends people need just as much as I hope those they wish to be friends with open their arms to them. As it turns out, the easiest part of parenting is what you can control: ounces in a bottle, a nap schedule, and what they watch on TV, while the most difficult becomes the hope that you've prepared them for the real world and that the real world is prepared for them.