When Failure is Not an Option: 10 Things Only Parents Can Do

My husband and I have had the indescribable pleasure of becoming parents to our son Finn Thomas 10 weeks ago. Driving home from our first Christmas party attended as a family last night, Finn started to get fussy, as babies do, and I instinctively sang him his favourite made-up songs, while by husband reached his arm back to hold his hand. Sigh of relief, baby soothed. In that one moment we felt like old pros. Like we had been in the parenting game for years. As they say when you have children; if you feel like an awesome parent, give it a few hours.

Parenting is all about its highs and lows, its triumphs and what may seem like failures at the time. But failure is not an option. You cannot return the baby if it leaks too much, or makes too much noise.

Completely Clueless About Babies

I may feel at ease holding my 2 month old son now, with his delicate frame of 11 pounds, his tiny fingers and toes. But in all honesty, when he was delivered into my arms 10 weeks ago, he was the first newborn I had ever held. Confession; I didn’t like babies. I was not the lady to swoon over every small human that came my way, and countdown the days until I would have my own. It wasn’t until my niece came into my life 3 years ago, that I realised what endless joy children bring into our lives. So when my husband and I decided to have a little munchkin of our own, we knew the learning curve would be steep. We didn’t have years of practice babysitting for friends and family.

10 Things Only Parents Can Do

There are skills we all learn as new parents that you can only master when you have to meet the demands of an infant all day and all night for months straight. In combination they make you a Mommy or a Daddy, but in isolation, they can be just sort of bizarre and comical.

1. Being able to drink your cup of coffee/tea cold
2. Make that cup of coffee/tea with one hand
3. Fold laundry with one hand
4. Do basically anything with one hand
5. Smile back wholeheartedly at the little face that has woken you up at 3am every night since they were born
6. Make-up song lyrics on the spot using your environment, and invariably the word poo, partly because it rhymes with everything, and well, partly because there is so much poo in your life
7. How to clean projectile poo or spit-up from your hair while laughing at the comedy in the situation.
8. Eat a meal or take a shower in under 5 minutes, while also doing number 6
9. Speak baby cooing sounds fluently
10. Give everything in your being to making another person contented, healthy, and above all else happy

Failure is Not an Option

So how to you face a challenge when failure is not an option? When you have no prior experience to help guide you?

Prepare: we did the same before a big exam in school, and yes babies are infinitely more complicated than calculus, but the same approach applies to any new challenge. Read every book you can, enrol in courses on the topic, study the subject as thoroughly as you can both before and during the challenge.

Recruit Allies: more likely than not, others have faced the same challenge before you. Do not let pride interfere with seeking help and guidance from those who have it. Admit you’re a novice, there is no shame in this, there is, however, shame in being too prideful to ask for a helping hand.

Trial and Error: I literally tried a million and one ways to get my little monkey to smile for the first time, and in the end, it was simply looking at me smiling while I spoke to him that got me the first one. All of my attempts, from silly faces, to wiggling every toy we have in the house in his face, were not failures, they were just attempts at success. More often than not we will not succeed on our first go, but it’s not classified as failure until you give-up, throw-in the towel, and call it quits.

Trust Your Instincts: who knew that two adults with absolutely no experience with babies, actually have parenting instincts? No matter how foreign a situation may at first seem, we all have instincts, derived from previous life experiences, which are seemingly unrelated. When Finn refused to go back to sleep in the early days, one night my intuition told me to lay my hand on his chest while I rocked him. I knew that my touch, that simple reassurance that I was there, that he was not facing this alone, had helped soothe my dog and cat patients when my job title was not Mommy, but veterinarian.

When we face a new challenge in life, our greatest fear is failure. My two months of parenting, have taught me that if you take away that fear immediately, by accepting failure is not an option, you can relax into the task at hand. There will be bumps along the way, and you will have to learn, grow and adjust, but ultimately you will feel the warm glow of success in your heart. For a few hours anyway.

Main photo by stockmonkeys.com