My advice for a new parent: Don’t blink

My coworker had a mental block, she couldn’t come up with the right word that she wanted to communicate. She kept snapping her fingers like the act would help bring out whatever was on the tip of her tongue.

We’ve all had moments like that—God knows I have had more than my share where I’ve been forced into one continuous stutter or stammer until my Swiss cheese of a memory comes up with the right word—but my coworker was not happy with herself.

She was in her third week back to work after delivering a healthy baby boy. She kept apologizing to everyone in the meeting and said she couldn’t stop thinking about diapers since she needed to pick up some on her way home from work.


We got your back

The rest of us in the meeting nodded knowingly and understood exactly where she had been going in the conversation. We even filled in her missing word. It wasn’t rocket science. We got her meaning. It was a safe environment. We told her to give herself a break. We told her too that she was doing a great job juggling the many different balls that come with being a new parent and returning to work.

I saw her later in the day on our way out the door and gave her an encouraging word and a thumbs-up. She seemed appreciative, but, if I knew her better, I would’ve suggested that she make it a priority to find a few minutes each day  for herself—yes, I know, no easy task—and enjoy this time in her son’s life and her own life. It’s a trite message, but still an important one: do your best and don’t worry about everyone else.


Returning to another time

Yes, exceedingly trite, but I know what I speak. I drove home that evening thinking of my own kids soon after my wife and I brought them home from the hospital. It was one of the craziest times in our lives. We slept little, we walked around like two lost zombies and, at one point, we thought we might even lose our minds.

baby-200760_640Despite it all, I used to love lying down next to my kids and watching them reach out to hold my stubby index finger in their hands. They would hold on so tight, so determined. It should be no surprise then that I would give anything to have my babies back. I wouldn’t need to go back for long, maybe an hour or so, just to hold them at that age one more time.

Children grow up so quickly. I buckled all three of our kids in the car to take them home from the hospital. Each time I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I know God loves me, but I imagined him lecturing me sternly each time: “Get this beautiful baby and your tired wife home safely and soundly.”

And then what happened: I blinked and my kids went from angelic babies gurgling in the back seat of the car to college kids looking at their smartphones for the best classes to take in the fall. Okay, I still have one in high school, but I’m sure if you’d ask him, he’d probably tell you that he too can’t wait to head off to new adventures.

I blinked and stuff happened.


Seasons come and seasons go

Oh, in the intervening years, I’ve gotten smarter about enjoying the turning of the seasons. I’ve gotten smarter about living in the present, but time still speeds by. I’ve long stopped trying to wish my way through one season to another. Some seasons are harder or easier than you expected. Some seasons fly by, quicker than your ten minute nap before the baby wakes, while others trickle requiring patience and trust.

You can read every parenting book known-to-man and still not be ready for parenthood. In the end, you do the best job you can and move on to the next task. Yes, it would be nice to have my babies back, but I like the season we’re in now too.

You live, learn, and move on.

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