It’s true, only recently have I come to understand why no one told me things about being a mother when I first joyfully announced my pregnancy. It was common consent, decency and kindness that kept others from telling me how huge a job I was undertaking. How it would be harder than I ever imagined, would test me in ways I could not foresee, would last far longer than I’d been promised.
I’m thinking about this again today because there’s a growing crop of newborns joining our already large family this year, and the news is thrilling. There is something very satisfying about watching the next generation (ones you knew as children) pass the milestones; college, career, marriage, first child. I smile at the thought of all the wonderful moments they’ll have. It will be a joy to watch these babies grow, these young people become parents.
I think of myself in those days, young and “ready” to be a parent. Except you’re never ready, because it’s not until you look into that earnest face for the first time, feel the weight of that little bundle in your arms that you understand what you’ve gotten yourself into, how very desperately you care for this tiny little living piece of you. You are now and forever hooked — there is nothing you will not to for this little miracle entrusted to your care.
Now I see why people (even those closest to you) don’t tell you about this. There’s really no need. You’ll see it for yourself soon enough. The day you find yourself doing something you swore up and down you’d never do is the day you truly join the ranks of parents. There’s no ceremony, but any parent in your vicinity will understand and be sympathetic.
And once you’re in, you’re in for life. That’s the part I wasn’t expecting. I thought that once a child reached the age of adulthood I would be finished with the “hard part,” able to sit back and enjoy the rest of my life in peace and harmony. Not. It wouldn’t have helped me to know in those early days to understand how truly long a haul I was in for, I was overwhelmed and sleep deprived, desperate to succeed and getting too much advice.
So my plan is to sit back, smile, withhold the labor and delivery stories and keep the truth of parenting to myself. This new crop will learn soon enough.