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Parenting 101: No instructions included

Updated on February 4, 2009
My oldest son, when he was not quite two years old ... just over twenty years (and countless memories) ago.
My oldest son, when he was not quite two years old ... just over twenty years (and countless memories) ago.

 The first time I held my newborn in my arms, I experienced a myriad of emotions ... from joy and wonder to anxiety and trepidation. I had created life and the resulting miracle was a living, breathing part of me. The tiny bundle of joy I held close to my heart was completely dependent on me and at 28, I felt ready for the task ... even as I silently wished for an instruction manual. Every single moment brough some new joy or wonder. I examined all ten fingers and toes ... and smoothed my hand over the fine blond hair that covered his scalp. He was so perfect, and fit into my arms as if made for them. The mantle of motherhood settled comfortably over me as I bonded with my son. Now was my time to savor the joys of parenting, to create a lifetime of worthy memories.

In those first wondrous hours, a peaceful contentedness enveloped me. I savored the simple joy of watching my tiny newborn sleep and thrilled at the incredible closeness we shared as he sought nourishment and comfort at my breast. For me, a life long goal had been attained. I was finally a mother. When not reveling in the unique joy that only a brand new parent experiences, I found myself contemplating the future as intermittent waves of anxiety coursed through me.

I had little experience with newborns, none of it recent. I graduated from nursing school when I was 18 and remembered spending time in the newborn nursery. Of course, the strongest memory I had of that time was when it was quiet and all the babies were sleeping ... some of us would gently thump the soles of a baby's feet, just so he or she would awaken and we could hold them. I remember sitting in the newborn nursery in a rocking chair and holding a newborn close ... inhaling the unique scent of a tiny baby's head and yearning for motherhood.

When I took my tiny baby home, my life felt complete. I dressed him, and held him, and fed him ... and surrounded him with maternal love. I remember watching him sleep contentedly in a bassinette at my side. During that first week at home, my mother stayed with us (she'd flown 3000 miles from one coast to the other, to share in the delight of my first child) and as I reached in to pick him up, she counseled me about not waking him. I scoffed at her advice, remembering my time in the newborn nursery, and savored the thrill of cradling my tiny newborn.

In those early weeks, I can remember changing his clothes endlessly and sighing with contentment and delight as I lavished attention on my tiny bundle of joy. It was very much like having a living doll. I dressed him and undressed him. I bathed him in a small plastic baby tub on my kitchen counter and remember how he cried during his first bath. As a new mother, I hadn't quite figured out the appropriate bathwater temperature and by the time I slipped his naked body into the water, it had chilled enough for him to let me know, in no uncertain terms, that it was not the least bit comfortable. Filled with anxiety, I was undaunted by that initial, somewhat unpleasant experience and quickly learned just how warm to make the water so that we would enjoy bathtime. Days turned into weeks, and then months. Before I knew it, he was sitting in the kitchen sink, splashing me with unabashed delight.

As my newborn grew, so did his appetite. After a few short months, mother's milk just wasn't enough. Though we both cherished the unprecedented bond established and maintained as he nursed, it became time to introduce him to the world of solid food as well. We started with baby cereal and soon moved on to the marvelous variety of mashed and strained goodies Gerber could provide. By the time he had passed his first birthday, he was eating any number of 'table foods'. The trick was helping him to sample a wide variety of foods, and encouraging him to continue to do so as he developed personal preferences.

Teaching my young son to talk was another delight. When the simple words he spoke finally began to make sense, I delighted in each new word he spoke. I found myself repeating everything he said, in an effort to show that I understood him. I remember clearly the first time he actually put two words together to form a short, but distinct sentence. I was preparing lunch and had decided to give him a hot dog. He looked at me, held out one tiny hand and said "Don't cut." I beamed as I handed it to him; savoring his satisfaction as he held the treat in his tiny fist.

There were many lessons learned as my first child made his way through the trials and tribulations of toddlerhood. By the time he was ready for kindergarden, our family increased in size and his younger brother was born. A year and a half later, I gave birth to a little girl and our family was complete. I had filled the backseat of my car ... and discovered the incredible joys of parenthood. By the time my daughter came along, I felt as if I had passed Parenting 101 with flying colors.

My children and I have learned a lot from each other over the years (and we continue to do so). Parenting is an endless learning experience ... one I would not trade for the world. 

One final note . . .

 In an effort to provide a wide variety of helpful parenting advice and encouragement, I am willing to add links to other hubs with similar content. If you want me to add a link to your compatible hub, add a comment below and send me the link to your hub in a private email.


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    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 4 years ago from USA

      I enjoyed your story and intriguing hub title. Thanks for sharing!

    • indy cindy profile image

      indy cindy 9 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

      Thanks for stopping by Karen ... and for your kindness. As for grandchildren ... though I am looking forward to that new & exciting experience ... I'm all for waiting 10 more years (and hope my children are too!).

    • profile image

      Chevy (Karen) 9 years ago

      Nice article, Cindy!

      I can relate. I think parenting our children is the most important job there is. Of course now I'm on to the grandchildren which is tons of fun too!

    • indy cindy profile image

      indy cindy 9 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

      LOL! Oh yes, I don't doubt it one bit. My oldest will be 22 next month and has been living with his girlfriend in another state for the last year and a half. My 17 year old is a senior and will likely move out after he graduates from high school this summer ... leaving just me and my daughter (who will be 16 in June). She talks of going away to college after high school and I admit I will relish the solitude.

    • profile image

      C. C. Riter 9 years ago

      I wouldn't trade it for anything either, but it's really nice after they're all gone too.


    • indy cindy profile image

      indy cindy 9 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

      Thanks ... both for adding this as a contender for this weeks hubnugget contest ... and for the kind words of praise. Being a mother is an amazing journey.

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 9 years ago from London

      lovely article! I know we handled our newborn son as if he was a bomb which might go off (-:

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Congratulations! This hub is part of this week's hubnuggets! Join the fun and vote now. Invite as many people as you like to vote too! Go, go, go! :)

    • indy cindy profile image

      indy cindy 9 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

      Thank you so much for your comment. I think it shows when we enjoy what we do and I truly enjoy motherhood.

    • ccdursina profile image

      Carolina Dursina 9 years ago from Spring Green WI

      Hi Cindy,

      This is a great article, I think you are a great narrator.

      My experience with writing, links, helping others,etc...

      I found that I collected lots of great info and I really had to come up with a blog where I post all links and other stuff on that page; it's easy to refer to that page and find everything I need - pretty much.