Monday, August 19, 2013

You Can't Know Until You Know

I was recently talking to a cousin and she mentioned that I am unusually honest about the whole parenting thing. She asked about labor and delivery. I told the truth, it hurts yo! She asked about parenting and I was honest. It is wonderful and complicated! Anyway I got to thinking about all of the stuff I had been told in advance, how others had tried to prep Eric and I for parenthood. They couldn't. I realize now that there are just certain things you can't know until you know. You know?

Eric and Cordelia

Here is my list of thing you can't know until you know.

  1. The deep and profound love you will feel. Yeah, everybody says it and it is true, but nothing can prepare you for its intensity. Not a thing. I know for a fact that I could wrestle a pack of jaguars in a hurricane if it would protect my girls. I would do it, don't test me man!
  2. The feeling you get when your child freaks out in public! When Cordelia was first born Eric and I tried so hard to ensure that our kid didn't disrupt anybody's experience while out in public. This meant that we would plan our outings around her moods. Fast forward to baby number two. Elise was colicky there was no planning around her moods. She was uncomfortable and fussy for the first six months of her life and we still needed to eat and stuff. So I had to bite the bullet and venture out in public. This meant that sometimes I was that mom, wandering leisurely through the stores as my baby siren wailed. Initially I tried to explain to those judgy eyes, the ones that said DO SOMETHING, but then I stopped caring.Now I am such a pro I don't feel much shame when Cordelia has a mild meltdown or Elise hits an emotional wall. Sure, I do my best to control the situation because baby crying is the last thing I want to hear, but I just don't feel the panic I once felt. Babies cry when you hand them keys and they really wanted to chew on a tag. Three year olds occasionally freak out when you breathe wrong. That's how it goes.
  3. Body fluids of your offspring don't count, or at least that is the best way to think of it. Any parent can tell you that you will be covered, at some point, with pretty much every single thing that oozes forth from your baby. Diaper explodes in your face. Yep, been there! Boogers. Spit. Toe jam. All of it. All over. All the time. 
  4. You are happiest rolling around on the floor playing with your kids. 
  5. Labor and delivery. Go ahead, read those books---they won't help. You won't remember any of it when it's go time. If you do happen to remember it, you will just feel annoyed that they recommended things like peaceful breathing. In my experience you just kind of step back and realize that you are a human being and it is super freaky and amazing and you know, painful and wonderful, etc., etc.
  6. The successes and failures of your children feel like your own successes and failures. It only makes sense. You helped to create and guide them after all, and it is your job to help them learn from the good and the bad.
  7. Guilt will become a permanent feature in your life. Perhaps you haven't had ten minutes alone all week and you step out for a drink with a friend. You'll feel guilt. You'll also really miss your child(ren). 
  8. Worry will become a permanent feature in your life. It will start the first time you check the breathing of a peacefully sleeping newborn, probably waking them in the process. The worry will continue on through first baby-sitters/day of preschool and continue on through all time.
  9. You'll become a dynamo of self-motivation. Since becoming a mother I have painted more and accomplished more professionally than I ever did when I had free time. I wrote a thesis paper and painted kitchen cabinets for heaven's sake. Every ounce of spare (ha ha ha) time becomes like drops of golden magical sunlight that you will squeeze dry and then squeeze again just in case you missed anything.
  10. You will always be late and it's no big deal. Eric and I were punctual in reverse. We were always early. We hated making people wait for us (it's totally rude) and we did everything in our power to be at a place when we said we would be there. Then we became parents. With just one child we were generally about 5 minutes late. Now that we have two kids I have noticed that we are generally about 10 minutes late. It doesn't matter what we do. We can lay out clothes in advance. We can feed/ nap/ bathe everything...there will always be something. That is why your friend with four kids hasn't left the house in three weeks. 
  11. Your children will make you a better person. All of your strengths and weaknesses will be laid bare for you to see. You will try, every single day, to be the parent that your children deserve. You will feel like you aren't doing things right, but you are because you are trying and that's all a parent can do.
Eric and the girls


Sarah Purdy said...

I adore this post. And yes, all of the above!! I'll definitely be sharing this with my soon-to-be parent friends.

Emily said...

I needed to hear this today, to be reminded that I am trying and it's the best I can do! After three days of being around a super grumpy, sick boy, I felt my patience running thin this morning When he started screaming because I answered an important phone call from his doctor instead of finishing the Star Wars book we were reading, I nearly lost it. But, deep breaths....keep trying. The day is not over yet! :)

Mom said...

I love the photos of Eric and his girls!

You said it all so well. Just so you know, it all still applies when your children are grown as well.

Michelle said...

Oh, so very true!

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