Where’s the instruction manual?

When you first become a parent, the maternity nurses and staff are saints. They check frequently on your darling new baby; help the mother get comfortable with breast-feeding, if that’s your desire; physically check the backseat of your car to make sure that you have the carseat correctly locked in; and even hold your hand and tell you that everything is going to be alright.

Sure enough, in no time, they load you up with a few diapers and your precious cargo, your newborn, walk you through the hospital doors and send you on your merry way. You’re in and out before you know it.

You’re walking out the door and the whole time you’re looking around and saying to yourself, “wait, this can’t be right?” I’m not sure how it was for others, but I know for my wife and I, we kept looking for an instruction book or a YouTube How-To Video, but it never came. The nurses waved goodbye and left us to our own devices.

Right on cue, five minutes at home with your perfect little angel and she’s changed into Satan’s spawn, spewing projectile vomit down your shirt. Those helpful nurses, with their calm, cool demeanor and seemingly endless bits of wisdom, are long gone. I wanted to get back into the car and head back to the hospital, but my wife assured me that this was our new life. We were on our own.

Image by Athena via Pexels.

Up a creek without a paddle!

I would soon learn that our lives would be changing. You find out truly how alone you are when your little angel, now aged three, stomps her feet, scrunches up her hands into little fists and says to you that she hates you and will not get into the grocery store cart. Okay, maybe the little urchin didn’t quite phrase it like that, maybe she didn’t actually use the word “hate,” but you can’t help but think to yourself that her intent wasn’t far off. What are you supposed to do then? Where’s the nurse then to hold your hand and tell you that the tough times will pass and everything will be alright?

What about years later when your now grown angel is choosing colleges and wants to know your opinion. You’ve been waiting months for this moment, for her to come to you for guidance in making her decision. But you falter. Do you give your honest opinion or are you supposed to couch your thoughts?

It hits you. This could really be a test? Is she just testing you so that she can turn around and make the exact opposite choice? Your head explodes trying to read the tea leaves and figure out the right answer.

My wife again reassured me that this was our life. But I still wonder, why don’t the nurses make house calls? A house call every six months until your kid reaches the age 20, or better yet, the age 30, that wouldn’t be too much to ask would it?

Image by Athena via Pexels.

What happened?

It’s not just girls, it was the exact same way with our sons. My wife and I are reasonably competent people, we walked out of the hospital sure of ourselves all three times that we could handle things on our own and within minutes we were stumbling over ourselves, minimized to tears.

There’s so many things those wonderful, resourceful nurses failed to tell us. Yea, yea, they held our hands, but they lied to us. They told us we would grow into the role. They told us we would know what to do. Umm, hello McFly! I want my instruction book!

All these years later, we’re just now coming out of our shock. Oh, yes, I’m grateful for all the medical folks who helped us and, yes, I love my kids, but I still want my money back for the all the stress and anxiety. I once had a full-head of hair. I once had a devil-may-care attitude. Where’d it all go? Gone!

I’m thinking of a class-action suit against hospitals everywhere. Who’s with me?

46 thoughts on “Where’s the instruction manual?

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    1. You’re so right about trial and error. And it’s sexist but I remember asking my wife silly questions all the time. Finally, she asked me, where in her background, did I think she have all these answers about babies. It took me then to realize that we were a team and would need to figure them out together. Yes, my blockhead moment! Ha, ha, definitely need an instruction book.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I promise you and your wife you will never get everything right. I feel I failed my son so many times. I found myself on my own raising my son while working full-time. I was told I could live on benefits and spend more time with him. I feel guilty about that but my son understood and I taught him that nothing is for free in this life. If you want something you have to work for it. Also I learnt your children make their own way in life. I had so many wonderful plans and dreams for my son which he rebelled against. He made his own way and then years later he turned around and said ‘oh I wish I had listened to you’ 😂🤣 just go with the flow, Brian. Keep them safe, feed and a happy health roof over their heads, encourage them when you can. That’s the best you can do. It’s a crazy world out there and you will never protect them from everything but make sure they are armed with enough knowledge to make the best decisions.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I smiled nostalgically all the way through this one, Brian. I brought my son – my firstborn – home in the middle of a heatwave. The nurses had told me “not to let the baby get any drafts”. I kept him bundled up in a hot house with all the windows closed for three weeks before a kind Mom with three kids told me (aghast) that babies get hot, too. It’s a wonder he survived that first month. I had NO IDEA what I was doing 🙄 It’s the most important job we will ever do and yet the baby doesn’t come with an instruction manual. How our species has survived this long is one of life’s great mysteries 🙄🤓🤓🤓

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’m right there with you Patti. We followed the maternity nurses instructions to the letter of the law. It took us forever to trust ourselves and go with our hunches. And you’re so right I don’t know how we survive. And we even took mom birthing and prep classes that the hospital gave before the birth. God help my kids. Ha, ha.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This made me both smile and laugh, Brian. If only kids came with a manual and a dedicated hospital nurse. The hilarity – intentional or not – makes parenting both a wildly unpredictable but rewarding journey. Let us know how that class action lawsuit goes!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, their very own instruction manual, that doesn’t seem like too much to ask. Goodness knows if I had that, I wouldn’t have made as many mistakes that I did when they were young … or old for that matter. Ha, ha. Yes, it’s an unpredictable ride. I’m sure my kids will remind me that I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. All of the things you mention are also the things you don’t see in any TV show or movie! (I wonder if producers are afraid to instill fear in the yet-to-be parents watching?) Beyond the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, parents are on their own, and let’s be honest, the child’s grandparents and/or great-grandparents may not have the best answers either! Brian, let me pre-warn you now… When you become a (valid) senior citizen (at age 65), there’s no rule book for that, either. And neither is there a single nurse who is going to hold your hand for a few days. Trust me, this is trial and error all over again!

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  4. I love the comments…and how relatable your thoughts are, Brian. Yep…just like Ab said…laughing and smiling from the recognition. Oh my. And your humor…the lawsuit? Sure, I’ll join in!
    It was a maddening thing to realize that near strangers had more confidence in us than we had for ourselves as fearful parents. It’s a little like hazing…watching other parents and medical professionals step back, recognizing the horror and fear on our faces but retreating just the same. They know/knew stuff…most of all that we had to find our own way. Darn it…I hate when the universe is right! 🤣😊🤣

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    1. Yes, it really is crazy that a total stranger had more confidence in me than I did in myself. I never thought about it like that, but it really is a sort of hazing. They knew what was going to happen and they still let it happen to us. Funny story. We bring our daughter home from the hospital. Her second night home, she’s crying and crying. We’re going crazy trying to calm her. Nothing is working. We try the swing that we had put together weeks ago, but it doesn’t work. Later we learn that the seat can move. We had her in the most scrunched up position. Of course, she wasn’t comfortable. In the moment, we try everything. I even put her in her carseat on top of the dryer. I think I’m a genius, but that doesn’t work. Finally, we go for a ride and she’s out in two minutes! I’m driving my sleeping wife and daughter around in circles for the rest of the night. 🙂


  5. Instruction manual? Did you say instruction manual. After you have pulled your hair out, had a few panic attacks with the possibility of several undetected heart attacks, just go grab you a bottle of wine without a glass. Make that two bottles, or some Jim Beam! LOL 🤣😜😂 Just pop the top, tilt your head back and let it roll my friend! 🍾🍷🍾 After that, you’ll forget all about that non-existent instruction manual! 😱

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember the day leaving the hospital with my first born. I was in a wheelchair with my baby son in my arms. The nurse was helping out in maternity, she was an ICU nurse. She held my baby as I got into the car. She tripped on the curb and baby bundle flew up in the air. My husband caught him (thank goodness he was once a football player.) The one mile drive home we were trembling and my hubby drove three miles an hour. I definitely relate to your first moments with your first newborn.

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    1. Oh my goodness, I would not have been happy. Our experience driving home though was similar to yours. I remember driving so slow, angry at the other cars for being so careless and driving so fast. Finally, my wife had to tell me that driving 35 on the highway might not be a smart move. Ha, ha, I didn’t want anyone hurting us. Ha, ha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The drive home would have been frightening enough without our drama first. I think the drive was when it hit us that we were responsible for the survival of another human being.

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  7. Ah yes – but you’ve done a brilliant job so those wonderful nurses were totally right, yes? They just were speaking to a longer time horizon than is imaginable when our kids are young…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My family hasn’t read this one yet. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure I’m going to hear an earful from both my wife and kids. Ha, ha. “How could you call your kids Satan’s spawn?” or “Dad if we’re Satan’s spawn, what does that make you?” Ha, ha, yes they really should give hand out weekly parenting medals!!! You survived this week, you get a medal!!!!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A true test of patience and endurance, which I got a dose of having been put on bedrest for two months. Tough, yes! Welcome to parenting. 😂 She’s now an amazing thriving artist in the Pacific NW. 😅

        Liked by 1 person

  8. “five minutes at home with your perfect little angel and she’s changed into Satan’s spawn, spewing projectile vomit down your shirt. ” And then they get older and it’s like “I’m sure the hospital switched my baby”.. ha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s still happening Cindy. Who switched my baby? I tried to send my son an Insomnia Cookie package last night. He’s finishing up his first year of college and getting ready for final exams. I thought it would be a nice treat for him and his friends. He was like “no, no, I’m good, it’s too much, I can just go grab a cookie if I need a break, thanks for asking though.” Meanwhile, I’m left scratching my head. Who switched my son? When did he get to be an adult? Ha, ha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. hahahahah I so know. it was my son’s b.d. yesterday but he really didn’t want to talk so I sung him a video and he loved that.. then I sent him juice. let’s not trade sons, we might be sorry,., we know at least what we know,.,. ha

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Your post made me laugh and I can really relate to it . I’m not a parent myself but my niece does live with us. Now she is 15 and I wish there was a manual on how to deal with a teenager and strike the balance between setting the rules and being the friend. I think parenting is a lot of trial and error 😄 Bur really great post . Thanks for sharing

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  10. I only had one, but I’ve always told her that I didn’t need more because one of her was like six of anybody else’s. I’ve also suggested that she try running a small country sometime—she’d be real good at it. So I got a small dog and figured I’d try to correct the mistakes I made on her by getting him properly trained. He was a whole lot easier. Good practice for the future. Maybe next lifetime . . .

    Liked by 1 person

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