It's taken me a few months to figure out what's going on, exactly, but I've finally unearthed the truth: parents of babies lie.
When you come across a parent who seems too good to be true, who claims the baby is an "angel", who says "there's nothing to it" or describes parenting as "easy", beware. You're dealing with a liar.
Thankfully, I abhor fibs and have no qualms in sharing the truth. After extensive research (read: seven months of bewildering parenting), here are the most common lies told by condescending, righteous parents, all of which Baby A has helped me disprove.
1. Babies can be sleep-trained and learn to fall asleep anytime, anywhere. Imagine me snorting right now. Parents like to claim their babies can fall asleep on their own; they just place baby in the crib, and boom, baby is in la-la-land. Or baby is lounging back in the stroller and look! The cute darling curled up, shut those big, bright eyes and took a little snooze-fest.
This is nonsense. These parents drug their children, or use magic so they can claim superior parenting skills. I'll bet anything that they have to rock the baby for at least 45 minutes before every nap, and for an hour before bedtime, singing songs from the Grease soundtrack while patting and rubbing the baby's back. Every baby must be tricked into falling asleep. Your job as a parent is to become creative with those tricks.
2. You'll get used to changing dirty, horrific diapers that smell like rotten eggs. That is a load of crap, literally. No human being can ever get used to dealing so closely with excrement. Our noses were not meant for this. This is why we have a gag reflex. It will be a traumatic experience every time. I've been doing it for seven months now and I have to hold back pitiful tears each time. I am always incredibly sorry for myself that I have to deal with my daughter's dirty diapers.
3. Babies fall asleep as soon as they are in the car. Most babies need an arsenal of toys to distract them in a moving vehicle, and how in the world are they going to just fall asleep if they need to be rocked and sung to and tricked into shutting their eyes? Please see above.
4. Motherhood comes naturally. Ha. Not only is this a lie, but it is also an unfair one, designed to make us wallow in guilt and feel terrible about ourselves. In fact, this is such a widespread lie that other truthful mothers out there are speaking up. Just this month, the blogger Jill Smoker released a book entitled Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies). I've already placed my order.
Those first six weeks of Baby A's life, I was a zombie in shock. I'd stare at her and think to myself: "What the hell am I supposed to do with her now?" I'd look at Mr T, cooing to his little girl, cradling her in his arms, singing lullabies, dancing to a tune only the two of them can hear, and I'd scream in my head: "Who is this guy? How did he fall in love with her so unconditionally? Does he have the capacity to love us both?"
Here's what I discovered: the only thing that comes naturally is the intense, all-consuming love you have for your child. It might not arrive until after the six-week mark, but will still arrive nonetheless. In all cases, bewilderment will continue to reign supreme.
Hala Khalaf is the deputy Arts&Life editor
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