During my wife’s pregnancy, we were treated to a baby shower by her colleagues. Obviously she was the center of attention, although I got plenty of support, love and advice. Not bad for my first baby shower! I received – in a yellow and black toolbox, no less – a New Daddy Survival Kit, chock full of “helpful” items.
Rubber gloves, face mask, onsie, vodka, earplugs, NoDoz, spare diaper, travel pack of baby wipes – among many other items – made up the gag gift part of the tool kit. It was great fun holding up each item to see what sort of cat call responses elicited.
There was was one item that was not the usual gag gift – “Words of Wisdom” from People who Have Been There. Without attribution, since none was provided, here are my favorite five: (1) First and foremost … don’t listen to all the free advice that you will be getting. (I have found that advice provides context, but you still have to figure everything out on your own.); (2) Enjoy every step of the journey into parenthood. (We did and continue to savor the journey.); (3) Baby laundry isn’t like your laundry. The first time you leave a wet bib in the hamper too long, you’ll know. (Amen!); (4) It gets easier. Very soon. And much, much, much more fun. (It’s been fun from the get-go and only has continued.); and (5) Wipes are a wonderful invention. You can use them to clean almost everything. (Absolutely. I’m sure we’ll have them around 10 years from now.)
Quotations, helpful hints, Chinese (or other) proverbs, bullet point suggestions, and quick-read,-light-on-substance self help books all suggest easy paths to success. While there’s probably no harm in any of them, they really aren’t the path to success. There has to be a plan into which these gems “fit”. Our plan with our daughter is to be consistent, encouraging, patient and loving as we watch her grow up – way too fast thus far, it seems – into an independent, functioning adult ready to take on all the joys and challenges her life will offer. So far, so good, but as the Chinese say “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”