Last week our family got a bit bigger and a lot louder. Our beautiful little daughter entered this strange world and our lives changed forever. At 2.2 kg and 45 cm she is quite literally a tiny bundle of joy.
Everybody says having a baby changes you. And it does. It actually changes everything and everyone around her. But nobody really explains how it changes you.
So one morning, while mummy was sleeping tight after a long night, I managed to escape the cuteness vortex, put the little one down, and made a list. (Do not underestimate the lure of the cuteness; it will trap you and only let you go when it’s time to change a diaper.)
I was stunned.
After all, what could such a tiny human teach a mature, experienced, and accomplished adult like me, right? Wrong!
Having a baby is a bit like having sex. You can read about it all day long, but it doesn’t even come close to actually doing it. And you always have the feeling there’s a lot more to be discovered. But before I come up with another weird comparison, let me share with you the 5 lessons I learned from our newborn daughter.
The 5 lessons
- You are never fully prepared. My wife and I spent months reading books and articles about raising a baby. We’ve covered everything from basic needs to neurodevelopment and emergency CPR. And we still get surprised. We’ve learned to improvise along the way and always be flexible.
- You don’t need all that fancy stuff. Remember how you just couldn’t skip a day at the gym or the weekly aromatic Thai massage session? Well, you can. And you will. Having a baby forces you to separate the important things from the clutter. It’s a great opportunity to reanalyze your priorities and focus on the essentials.
- Planning and organizing are essential. I had always thought of myself as having well-structured schedules and habits. Boy, was I wrong. Suddenly the items on my to-do list changed from email your PhD supervisor and finish reading that book to cut your fingernails and get a shower sometime. You will be forced to get your shit together — and that’s a good thing. Now I can prepare a milk bottle in 3 minutes flat, with my eyes half closed and one hand tied behind my back. No matter what challenges await in the future, now I’m much better prepared to face them.
- You are not the center of the universe. Especially for the alpha males out there, I will say this one more time: you are not the most important person anymore. Not even in your own home. I don’t care if you’re a CEO or an all-star player, here’s a half-human that will dominate you. She will wake you up at 3 AM to change her diaper, fetch her something to eat and then keep you up for another hour just because she can. It’s a humbling experience. It will teach you to appreciate your parents and everyone around you a lot more.
- Ignore the noise around you. Babies have a surprising capacity to only focus on the essentials: eat, sleep, and poop. They don’t care if you listen to heavy metal, if the stock market goes down or if Trump is drinking vodka with Putin. Babies concentrate on what they need to grow. And you should do the same.
It’s been an amazing ride until now and I’m sure it will get a lot more interesting. I can only hope I’ve convinced a few of you to try it for yourself. As for the ones out there who already have babies, I would be grateful to learn from your experiences. What tips have you picked up along the way and what should I expect from the future? Leave your answers in the comments. I promise to read them all while I cuddle her to sleep.