D. None of the Above: Divergent expectations, realities and memories of parenting

D. None of the Above: Divergent expectations, realities and memories of parenting

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By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

As I ponder the next step before my pint-sized daughter leaves the proverbial nest, I recall the incongruities between what we expected, what happened and what we remember. Please find below a list of some magical and not-so-magical moments.

The birth of our daughter

What we thought would happen: We had 40, no, make it 42, weeks to get ready for the birth of our daughter who waited well past her due date to appear. We took Lamaze classes — “breathe honey, breathe, there you go” — we read baby books and we had a birth plan. I figured my wife would let me know “it’s time” when her water broke or when the squint-through-them-and-then-smile-radiantly contractions arrived. We’d jump in a taxi and a wonderfully cheerful nurse would welcome us to the hospital.

What actually happened: Our daughter really didn’t want to come out, so the doctor scheduled an induced delivery. We casually packed our small bags, drove slowly to the hospital and walked up to the entrance. Numerous drugs, two days, almost no sleep and considerable anxiety later, our daughter still hadn’t made her appearance.

What we remember: This is tough, because we recall some of the hours of confusion and anxiety, but the end result was so life altering that one of our recurring memories was of a nurse coming in, to ask how many times we changed her diaper after she spent hours in the room with us. Wait, were we supposed to change her diaper?

Early trips to the doctor

What I thought would happen: He’d examine her and tell us what a wonderful job we were doing, and would offer us timely and helpful advice about surviving without sleep.

What actually happened: She weighed less than she did at birth. Is that good? Is that bad? No, it’s normal, he assured us. Why are you giving her shots already? Can’t she get shots later? She looks so peaceful. Why are you making her cry?

What I remember: That shot seemed so painful. We don’t remember our first shots, but we both felt as if the doctor were stabbing us with a sword when he gently inserted the needle in her arm.

First steps

What we thought would happen: She’d take some steps, we’d clap, and she’d be on her way.

What actually happened: We didn’t take away her walking toy until someone told us it was keeping her from learning to walk.

What we remember: Silly us, we delayed her walking because we let her keep using the toy, but, hey, she did just fine.

First athletic event

What I thought would happen: She’d try to throw or catch and ball and I’d be thrilled with her effort.

What actually happened: She played with dandelions and chatted with her friends.

What I remember: She looked great in that red T-shirt with her mitt turned backward toward her knee.

Going to high school

What we thought would happen: She’d share her daily experiences with us and we’d laugh and offer sage advice.

What actually happened: She grunted, we growled, and now she’s graduating

What we remember: She smiled and waved at us from the volleyball court and she laughed with us while we made cookies for her friends.

Driving 

What we thought would happen: She’d drive slowly and carefully and listen to us.

What actually happened: She told us all the advice we gave her wasn’t how we drove.

What we remember: She passed her driver’s test and can do errands and drive herself around. Thank goodness.

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