I have several friends expecting their first child. I sat down to write a witty piece on early motherhood and those tender first days and weeks of bonding with a new-born baby. The amazing scent of a new-born babies head. Holding your sleeping baby next to your breast and hearing its sweet baby sounds. Then my two youngest boys came in fighting over who would play the Guitar Hero drum set and I forgot most of what I had planned to write.
Parenthood changes you in many ways. The beginning can be scary. However, I believe, most of the fear is because you have to much time to think about it. Being pregnant can be weird, uncomfortable and exciting. Even though your body is changing, for the most part, you still do what you have always done in your daily life. Sure you may cut back on the shell-fish and caffeine, stop drinking etc, but your life hasn’t truly changed yet. Hearing your babies heart beat for the first time can be a moving experience. But watching EARTH on IMAX theater screen can be just as amazing. You can walk out of the doctor’s office or the theater saying, “Wow, that was moving!” At the same time, your life hasn’t truly changed yet, not in the concrete day to day details.
Life changes when that baby is held in your arms, separate from your own body, but so very dependant. Now your marathon begins. Now you begin to run the race every mother and father runs. You begin to run with a timid careful step. One foot after the other until you have picked up so much speed it is almost impossible to stop running and oddly you stop being scared.
Why? Why am I not as scared now, 11 years into this child rearing process, as my dear friends who sit waiting to give birth. Why, am I not paralyzed with fear because I have not one little boy, but three, depending on my husband and I every minute of every day to do what is right for them. Depending on us to show them how to become all they are capable of being and more. Depending on us to help them become happy, functioning, contributing members of society. Men who one day give to the world more than they take. Good men who we can say with pride, “These are our sons”.
This should terrify me. The responsibility crushing me down with its weight. Yet my husband and I rise each morning without fear and with one goal in mind. Our goal is to provide, support and nurture our children. We act with what apepars to be confidence and the assurance of experience and know how. How do we do it all without hesitating and why are we different from new parents. I tell you how we are different, we – are – tired.
Thats right newbies… if you want to act with as much confidence as experienced parents just wait a bit.
One day you too will no longer have time to worry, “Did I sanitize that pacifier?” Instead you will dip it in your cola and stick it back in the baby’s mouth. People will think you know what you are doing because you seem to confident in your movements to NOT know. They will look at you and think, there is a parent who knows and is relaxed and confident. Those people will be missing the point. Sure you know that the sugar, caffeine and acid are bad for the babies teeth. You know you will have to pay at the dentist later. You also know that if you leave the table to sanitize it the 5-year-old is going to start flinging food at the 3-year-old and the baby will start screaming and the whole restaurant will give the husband and you stink eye.
The begining of parenthood gives you time to think about what you are about to do. You analyze, plan and examine every angle. You over think everything. You worry about all you are about to do.
Once you are in the midst of the process you have no time to think, plan or analyze. You have to keep moving or the horde of boys will over run you and your spouse and then its “Lord of the Flies” right there in your suburban home.
So don’t envy my husband and I when you see us out with a pack of kids and we look like we know what we are doing. We don’t know more than you, we are just tired. I cant stop to think about all I must do tomorrow, analyze it and realize the magnitude of my responsibility. If I did stop and think about it all, you may have to come pry me from out of the closet where I am hiding with my thumb in my mouth.
I would write more, but my 6-year-old wants me “take him to sleep now”. Curling up with my youngest and smelling his wet Johnson & Johnson little boy hair sounds better than sitting here and attempting to come up with some witty mental nuggets for water cooler discussion among my Facebook readers tomorrow morning. Night Night, Sleep Tight, Relax…it will all be all right.