Congratulations to Ament and Jaimie, who just announced that they're going to be parents!
What with Adrienne and Joel expecting their first and many of our other friends married and thinking ahead to parenthood, I thought I would offer up my advice to new mothers.
I don't have much because I will say that 90% of the time I have no idea what I'm doing and am making it up as I go along.
But I will share one piece of advice that was a very hard lesson for me to learn.
It's this: Stop keeping score when it comes to doing housework and baby care. Don't keep track of how many times you took out the trash or how many times he did or didn't get up with the baby, or how many minutes ticked by when he did.
Because no matter how great a father your husband turns out to be, a great father will never be a mother, and the reality is that when it comes to kids, moms will ALWAYS end up doing more. That's the way we're built.
So be prepared for the fact that most of the time, when the baby cries, YOU will be the one getting up. And on the rare occasions that your husband does get up with the baby, he will spend the remainder of the day lying on the couch with a blanket complaining about how tired he is and refuse to change a diaper for the rest of the day because he thinks his share of the work is done. Even though you wake up with the baby night after night and are still expected to be a functional human being afterward, don't be bitter.
Get over it now because that's the way it is.
And when you stay home with the baby all week while your husband is at work, you will kill yourself trying to interest your offspring with books and games, long walks in the park where you point out the names of flowers you recognize, and flashcards. You will feed him healthy nutritious food, pick out cute matching outfits for him to wear, and limit his TV intake. In addition, you will manage to do several loads of poopy laundry, change five or six diapers, keep the house fairly tidy and prepare dinner.
And when your husband takes the baby on Saturday to give you a break, you will be frustrated because your husband will do things more lackadaisically. He'll probably put the baby in the bouncer in front of Baby Einstein videos for several hours while he surfs the web, and will forget when and how much to feed the little guy. (Kyle once called me when I was working weekends at The Right Start to ask me- "what Owen eats nowadays." Gold.) The house will be a toy strewn mess when you get home, and at least ONCE your husband will leave the baby in a messy diaper until the poop crusts on to his poor little bottom- either because your husband didn't notice the diaper was poopy or because he was hoping you'd come home just in time to change it. Expect it. It will happen.
Get over it now and don't be bitter. That's just the way it is.
You will probably wish your husband was as enthusiastic about all things baby as you are- but try to have pity on him and remember that that's IMPOSSIBLE. You are Mommy, and no one on Earth is going to love your baby more than you, not even Dad. So it's only natural that moms end up with most of the heavy child-rearing, particularly in the first few years.
Remember that your husband has his own role to fill, too. It may not involve as much shit and puke as yours, but it can be just as stressful, lonely and difficult to be the provider and head of the family.
Keep in mind too, that while you are going crazy taking care of the kids to the extent that you forget your husband even exists, your husband will never forget about you, and part of that is because he doesn't lose himself in baby stuff the way you do.
So my advice to mommies is to remember that things are never going to be fair or equal and not to waste time squabbling over who held the baby for one hour or who had him for a whole day or who got up with him last night and for how long.
For me this was the hardest thing to learn- I was always trying to make sure things were "equal" and I would get so angry when Kyle was sitting around with his feet up while I was making bottles or vacuuming after putting in a full day with the kids. But once I started to let go of that idea of equality- I started realizing that if I let Kyle relax a little more, he had more energy to play with the kids and take them places. And once I stopped forcing the kids to be a chore for him, I noticed more spontaneous play between them.
There's no such thing as equality- so stop keeping score. Better yet, learn from my mistake and don't even start.