The old saying goes "you never know until you try." This is true- you don't know that a peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich is "da bomb" or that black jelly beans really aren't that bad, until you try them (trust me on the peanut butter pickle sandwich- that's not just a pregnancy craving concoction!). But you know what you really don't know 'til you try it? Parenthood. Period. End of sentence.
Sure, your parents are parents. You have friends who are parents. You work with folks who are parents. They ALL have something to say about being a parent, too. It started when I was pregnant with Karl- the first thing I never knew I didn't know about being a mom- that everyone, everywhere who has ever had a kid (and heck, some who've never had kids themselves, too) thinks they're an expert at parenthood. I don't necessarily mean this in a derogatory way, either, because some of the advice I've received has been downright great advice and I'm super thankful for it. Some of the advice I've heard though, drones on and on in my ears when it's being dolled out because I've either heard it a million times before or because I know the person giving it is speaking out of their rear end. I never knew so many people thought they are the authority on raising kids until I had one. Here I am, even, writing a blog about my experiences as a mom so far and hoping somewhere, someone can take a little piece of what I've written and use it to their advantage....
All that being said- it does not matter how many times you hear it, who says it, how loud they say it or for how long you hear it- until you HAVE a child of your own, who lives with you, full time, who is completely dependent on you for its survival, you just DON'T know. THAT being said, since I've become a mommy, there's a whole WORLD of stuff I never knew I didn't know.
Here's an example: I never knew I didn't know that poop can shoot out of a newborn's teeny-tiny little bum at breakneck speed and splatter paint a wall, the baseboards, and the floor in one ill-fated early morning diaper changing session. Nope- didn't know I needed to know it,either, until it happened. Who thinks of poop-shooting babies when they imagine a precious, sweet little newborn? I mean, come on. You may think of sweet sleeping babies, or wailing, screaming babies, but the thought of poop spraying from the rear orifice of said newborn just doesn't wander into your thought-scape because you never knew it should. Now, what did I learn from my surprise 2am poop onslaught attack? NEVER, never, never change a grunting baby's diaper. Just don't do it unless you have a real burning desire to scrub poop off of your baseboards at 2am.
I never knew I didn't know that a toddler considers every food item, from butter and syrup, to corn on the cob, to guacamole, to be suitable hair cream. Now, I knew that kids get messy when they eat- duh. I never expected, though, to have to lather, rinse and repeat my son's hair 3 times to get the dried up banana out of it or the uber-greasy breakfast butter slick out of it, either. Other things that toddlers consider suitable hair balms include (but are not limited to) peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, orange juice and sour cream. Never knew I didn't know!
I never knew I didn't know that ravioli, to a toddler, is perfectly acceptable to eat after it has somehow been shoved down said toddler's diaper. Come to think of it, I never knew SO much food could actually end up in a diaper and that all of it, actually, is acceptable to eat by the toddler who was stashing it, at a later time. The thought just never crossed my mind...
I never knew I didn't know that the "shhhhhh" sound doesn't originate with crabby old librarians, but rather, from desperate, Medusa-haired, sleep deprived and 4 day bath-less mothers. I used to think "shhh-shhh-shhh" noise was instinctive for a mom to make to quiet her crying baby- and we've all heard mom's do it...but I never knew that the "shh shhh shhh" noise is in reality a mom's desperate last ditch attempt to calm her own nerves before she has a total, sloppy and nuclear sized mental breakdown. Even though I don't necessarily have a "cry-y baby" at this stage, sometimes I catch myself "shh shh shh-ing" to myself when I'm stressed out at work or in heavy traffic when I'm trying to get home as fast as I can because I'm about to pee my pants. "Shhhhhhh-ing"- it's a built in safe-guard designed to protect the mental state of a mom, who'd 'uh thunk it?
I never knew I didn't know that I wouldn't care, really wouldn't be bothered by, being covered in my child's snot, poop, urine, barf, blood, drool and any other slime which his body creates and emits. Whoa your horses- I'm not saying I ENJOY being covered in these fluids- I'm simply saying I never knew it wouldn't totally freak me out/make me gag/ cause mass panic on my part. I'm not a squeamish person but the thought of someone else's snot on or around my body really grosses me out. That's the thing about being a mom,though, you just have this immunity to it when it comes to your own kid. When Karl kissed me on the lips and inadvertently left a big, gloppy booger behind on them (for me to discover when I LICKED my lips) I didn't have the knee-jerk "I'm gonna barf my guts up" reaction I would have had if any other person left a booger on my lips. I did a little "eeeewwww grooooosssssss" dance, wiped it off and spat and then my "heebie jeebie" dance. Then I cracked up laughing because it was one the funniest things Karl had ever done to me. He laughed back at me and said "BOOGAH!" And the whole mucous-y moment became a warm and fuzzy one for me and I look back on it fondly.
I never knew I didn't know that a baby's arms may only be 8 inches long, however, he is perfectly capable of reaching items 12inches away from his body. I say that Karl has "Go Go Gadget" arms because they seem to super-extend to magical lengths in order to juuuussssstttt barely reach the most deadly or hazardous item around. Case in point- I put the handle to the hot frying pan on my stove top as far back as I could, turned completely away from the edge. I step 1 foot away from the frying pan to get a spatula and BAM! Go-Go-Gadget arms are engaged and make contact with the hot frying pan- pulling it dangerously close to the precipice of the stove and therefore, deathly close to the top of my son's head. Knives can be reached almost no matter how far away they are laid from the edge of counter tops and the cord to pull the horizontal blinds up is NEVER out of reach, even if I loop it around the valence rod at the top of the window a few times. Karl will, the determined little rascal that he is, find a way to get to danger. Babies have super-powers and I never knew it!!!
I learn something new from Karl every single day...something I never knew I didn't know. Being a mom is the ultimate survival course in "on the job training." Kids will teach you more than any school teacher, college professor, parent or mentor ever had and you will NEVER know it for yourself until you TRY it for yourself!