Learnings from a new parent
Society did not prepare you
There are lots of things life prepares you for: moving to a new country, learning a new language, starting a new job: all of this is widely covered in the media and movies. What isn't covered at all (at least in mainstream content) is how repetitive, frustrating, confusing, time-consuming (and widely different from child to child) the first few months of child-raising are.
Your little one's brain will be born so primitive that it can't differentiate extreme pain from hunger. Many times you'll be humbled, admitting that she doesn't know what she wants, and neither do you. You will spend hours consoling her from god-knows-what.
This doesn't make for a good movie though, and not the most exciting dinner conversation topic. So it's absent from most people's experience space, until you live it for the first time. Now I know that it's normal, and repeat to myself that it's not her fault when her crying gets to my nerves.
Social media anxiety
Imagine a bell-shaped diagram: the vast majority of child-raising experiences (mine included) are towards the middle: by every axis, they are boring:
- Parents who are neither careless nor obsessed Karens, just well intentioned
- Children who aren't germ-free or terminally ill, just healthy-ish
- Baby gear which isn't top-of-the-line or worn down, just good enough
Sharing experiences in the belly of the bell curve won't get anyone any "likes". So social media is mostly about anxiety-inducing extremes: the sick babies with rare conditions, the parents leaving their baby to cook in the car or the perfect child-raising paediatricians, and of course the expensive, ego-boosting, miracle baby gear.
I stayed away from baby & child-caring content that algorythms pushed to me (think TikTok feed, YouTube recommendations, Facebook groups). I unsubscribe from all those — and instead, intentionally went for authoritative online sources (e.g local hospital, government, WHO), and books.
Refuge in books
I found great value in those books so far. What they have in common is they are written with
- Your Baby week by week: A pragmatic (though UK-biased) weekly answer in under 10 pages a week to every first parent's burning questions: "is that normal" and "what is next". Written by two mothers of three: a journalist and a paediatrician. I found it most useful during the first ~6 weeks when I had no idea what I was doing
- Cribsheet. The author of this book (an economist) realized that a lot of the advice we get about how to raise children right is tribal, borderline religious, and many times unfounded. She gathered the real data to help you make the choices you should about your own parenting. Turns out that most
- Selfish reasons to have more kids. Again, a book based in data. Its title is misleading: it isn't so much about having more kids as it is about helping parents focus on themselves and lower the terribly high standards society puts on child education. The book proves via studies that in the end, it doesn't really matter.