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Three Old Wives Tales About Mothering That Are Total BS

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When I was pregnant with my first child I worked for a woman with two adult sons. And while she was incredibly kind and supportive of me as I prepared to become a mom, she—like all mothers, including ourselves—offered some unsolicited advice. Some of it was good (you have to tire boys out), and some of it was... not on point. And out of all that advice, these three things she told me so confidently, which didn't turn out to be true at all, still stick in my mind.

OLD WIVES TALE #1: Make sure your kid's first solid food is a vegetable. Otherwise if you start with a fruit, they'll be addicted to the taste of sweets and turn down all vegetables forever.

If all you had to do to create children that to like to eat vegetables is start them on vegetables early, there wouldn't be any children's menus. Based on my broad sample size of two children, you can feed babies anything because many babies just open up their mouths to whatever you put in there. Then those babies grow older and start to develop their own tastes and preferences and opinions and those habits are going to happen regardless of what you feed them.

The good lesson from this is that you should feed your kids vegetables, for sure. But I think it's the misleading to give parents the impression that they can control their kids' taste preferences. I think it's misleading to give parents the impression that they can control much of anything, actually.

NEW WIVES TALE: Your kid is going to eat differently through different stages of his or her life and it may drive you crazy but you can't do too much about it, so just do your best and try not to worry about it too much.

Some children just cry more than others and no amount of the 5 S's can help

OLD WIVES TALE #2: Parenting is easy once you can figure out the difference between your baby's cries.

This advice is great for seasoned parents, or for parents who have notably quiet, mild-mannered babies. Our second son, for instance, has four distinct cries: the "I'm hungry," whine, the "I just bonked my head!" cackle, the "Hey where did you go? I'm lonely!" call, and the "Oh dear God just turn off the light I'm so tired" sob. But the reason why it's easy for us to discern these is that his cries are relatively few and far between, so it's pretty easy to know what they mean. This was not the case with our first son at all—until he was old enough to start to communicate with us, whenever he cried we just threw solutions to the wall to see what would stick.

Some children just cry more than others and no amount of the 5 S's can help. Babies' cries aren't always like service orders—sometimes they use just one cry to convey, "I'm not happy!" If you're able to know what your child's cries mean, great, but going into parenting thinking you can figure out a baby is not likely to end well.

NEW WIVES TALE: Your newborn may cry a lot. It's designed to make you crazy so just hunker down and get through it.

OLD WIVES TALE #3. Two children is exponentially harder than one.

This one really freaked me out as I was pregnant with my second child. The advice rang in my head "Two children isn't just one and one. It's harder than you can ever imagine." For some parents, this is absolutely true, especially if the kids are very close in age, or one is special needs, or help or resources are scarce. Maybe the other shoe has yet to drop, but I didn't find adding a second child to be that much more difficult than the first one. I've written a lot about how hard the transition was for me to go into motherhood. I was depressed and went through a major life alteration that I wasn't quite prepared for. Having a second child and not having to go through that major transition felt easy in comparison; sort of like running a race you've trained for compared to one you just started cold. I'm able to enjoy the journey more. It's not a cakewalk, for sure, but it wasn't the unending grind I was led to believe it would be.

NEW WIVES TALE: For some people, going from zero to one child is very difficult. For others, it's one to two. And then some claim that none of it is difficult at all and they're just lying.

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