New Parent Lessons Learned

Photographs by Alan Wycheck

My wife and I had a life that fit the “American Norm” by most standards.

We got married, purchased a home, adopted a dog (to test the waters of keeping something alive for an extended period of time) and, after a few years, we set our focus on starting a family.

Each day is a new adventure, and I believe that parenthood is the coolest, most rewarding and most terrifying journey upon which any individual can embark.

We took every step to plan this chapter of our lives as responsible adults.

We enrolled in classes to teach us how to breathe during labor, how to swaddle like the professionals at a fine burrito establishment and what to expect with the miracle of birth.

We also read the books, registered our “bump” online and spent hundreds of hours revolutionizing our home into “Babyland 2010.”

From start to finish, it was 10 months of “baby college” (our class work would rival an MCAT prep course).

However, shortly after our son’s arrival, we learned that children have personalities, opinions and preferences. Somehow those items were omitted from the classes and the workbooks.

In parenthood, every day is a new lesson waiting to be learned. So, in the hope of educating tomorrow’s parents, I documented a few of the key lessons I was taught by my incredible son.

New Parent Lessons (NPL)

NPL No. 103:

Once the astronomical expenses of a child are added to your household, everything you own will need repaired or replaced.

From your kitchen sink to your central-air system – each item you rely on daily will soon be requiring repairs.

It’s just part of your new life as a family unit.

NPL No. 206:

Your child will have more clothes and accessories than Malibu Beach Barbie and Ken combined, but your “dream house” will never be big enough to accommodate it all.

That is correct, in addition to your house being flooded and as hot as a country on the equator, you will be facing the risk of an avalanche with every closet door you open.

Along with juggling household repairs and daily shipments from your local baby boutique, your child will require multiple diaper changes and numerous feedings.

The “leak proof” statement on a package of diapers is not a guarantee.

NPL No. 326:

One should always carry four diapers, two packages of wipes, multiple outfits and three gallons of formula/milk for even quick trips to get the mail.

NPL No. 412:

No diaper is equipped with a capacity gauge to assist a parent in determining when it has reached “full.” However a diaper can and will discharge the excess (either up, down or both) once it reaches maximum capacity.

NPL No. 824:

The “leak proof” statement on a package of diapers is not a guarantee. This is a challenge that your baby will always accept.

As your child grows and develops, it’s very exciting to see him or her learn new skills and master new tasks. Never forget that with each new skill he or she acquires, a new challenge awaits the parent.

NPL Np. 963:

In less than the time it takes to wash your hands, an upright toddler can empty a kitchen cabinet and leave a debris field larger than the Gulf oil spill.

NPL No. 989:

When taking your child to a fair or petting zoo, you should always wear sneakers. No longer will comfortable flip-flops or stylish sandals be appropriate. Shortly after walking through the gate, your child will insist on cutting through the llama field and straight to the sheep corral where more than mud will be hiding under the straw.

From daily functions to weekend outings, each moment in raising a child is an opportunity for you and your child to learn and grow together. Parenthood will never be perfect; it will always be a work in progress. The most important lesson I can offer – parenthood is an amazing trip, enjoy the ride.