Best books for new parents
Empathy in parenting

Book recommendation: The Struggle Is Real7 min read

Brian Gordon is back with this sequel that further delves into the pain points of parenting. If you don’t already have kids, read this first!

“It’s almost exactly like a day of parenting, except without the annoying little people.”

It’s all about setting expectations — especially if this is your first parental rodeo. It’s just that we humans are notoriously bad at it.

“When you board a plane, they give you a safety talk about possible emergencies. If something bad happens, you’re supposed to put your own oxygen mask on first, before you put your kids’ on.

This seems antithetical as we parents tend to instinctively protect our kids above all else. But the reason they tell you to do this is that if you wait to put on your own mask, you’re likely to pass out. And then you’ll be of no use to your kids or anyone else.

That kind of sums up parenting for me.” 

— Brian Gordon, The Struggle is Real

The first three months with a newborn can be the most nerve-wracking, especially when it’s your first. But they’re relatively easy, compared to what comes after. Newborns are cute and cuddly, they’re fairly easy to satisfy and it’s easy to get other people to watch your baby for a bit while you go take a shower or a nap.

In fact, so long as your kid is still limited by his own inability to move around the room, it’s fairly straightforward. Even if they can be crafty buggers at times…

That all changes once the little bundle gains the superpower of crawling and walking — you’ll need to brush up on your own superpowers to manage this phase. And the forming of desires and opinions (that often contradict what is best for them or for the world at large) don’t make things any easier. Not to mention the questions you’ll be expected to answer.

And there is no guarantee that you’ll get any of your questions answered either. This last one gets asked at our house about umpteen times a day:

Parenting a toddler takes energy. Copious amounts of energy. You’ll find that you’re not the same person you once were. I know I feel disproportionately older compared to before having a kid. Cramming all the adult activities, like work or eating junk food and candy, into the few hours after she falls asleep doesn’t leave me very presentable for the outside world.

And I used to get so embarrassed about the little things. With my limited sleeping hours and demanding day-to-day schedule of keeping up with a toddler, I find I don’t have the capacity anymore to hang on to the minor details. So long as the kid is still alive and in one piece at the end of the day, it’s a job well done.

I love books and we’ve tried to introduce them to our young’un since she was very little. Now she’s finally caught on and is genuinely interested in books, but in the beginning, we did lose a few good ones due to user instructions being unclear to all participants.

Sleep regression and teething achieved almost curse-word status in our house. Seeing that little black silhouette sit up in the dark still makes me freeze like a deer in headlights as panic’s giant fist grips my stomach. Thankfully, it’s now mostly just a very active way of switching positions and it’s fairly easy to get her to fall asleep again. Then again, never say never.

Having kids is trying. The fewer adults there are per offspring in the family to help out, the more demanding it is. How single parents manage I’ll never know. The funny thing is that once you’ve gotten used to having the little bastards around, it surprisingly confusing to be without them.

When you’re with them, you have all these plans and wishes for things you’d like to do in peace for just five minutes. Once they’re actually out of your hair you feel like you’ve literally forgotten how to be just you.

It’s really comforting to know that it isn’t just me. Other people feel exactly the same way about their kids and have the exact same struggles that I do. Both Welcome To Parenting and The Struggle Is Real are absolute diamonds that I keep in my library for those days when I’m feeling overwhelmed and like I can’t get through another minute.

I sit down and flip through them and I remember that it’s not just me — y’all are in this with me and we’re all managing it just one day at a time. We got this!

Plus there are those times when you get an unexpected hug or just the cutest-face-ever from your kid that propel you for another 24 hours when you think you’re all tapped out.

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