Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Tell the truth Experienced Moms and Dads, do you ever walk by the couples who are clearly expecting their first know the ones - they are euphorically walking hand-in-hand (in the city, because that's where they still live), leisurely perusing baby books at a bookstore, enjoying an inordinately long dinner while discussing an upcoming "babymoon" -- are you quietly (but loudly in your head) thinking...HA!  you don't know what you're in for!  Even as you congratulate your ever-growing inner circle who are starting to have children, and express all the right, trite -isms like "welcome to parenthood!"....are you really thinking, "thank god we're not the only ones!"  Not that I would ever rain on that "we're pregnant and so excited" parade for anyone...aside from the inconveniences and discomforts of pregnancy for the women, it is one of the happiest times in a couple's collective life.  You're filled with such anticipation and excitement and relief because you are on a road that you may have fantasized about your whole life...there is an abundance of love and well-wishes from every corner, families coming together, it's like a 9 month-long wedding without the booze (wait, that doesn't sound so great, but you get the point). 

In reality, though, that over-the-moon couple who is casually taking a walk by the lake is soon about to experience the biggest shake-up of their lives and they can't even see it coming.  Sure, they've heard about the lack of sleep (but we'll read Babywise and be sleeping through the night at 9 weeks, right?) and the colic (but we'll just shh, swaddle, swing, right?) and all of the other evils of the "fourth trimester" that obviously can ONLY be combatted with the ancient practices of gas drops, under-stimulation and eat/play/sleep...but the secret that only the Experienced Moms and Dads can tell you is that as hard as all of that stuff is, it's not what actually rocks your world.  The first few months, and perhaps the whole first year, are all about survival, but while you are wholly focused on the survival of your baby (and yourself), there is something else independently going on that no book, friend, mother, anything can really prepare you for.  You are becoming a parent, and man can that throw you for a loop.  At some point, whether it's months or even years after your child is born, it hits are no longer the person you once were.  And I don't mean that every part of you centers around your children...but how you perceive the world, your relationships, your priorities, your all experiences a shift, some subtle and some extreme, some great and some not so great.  Just enough such that you'll have moments where you don't quite know who you are anymore.  This can be extremely disconcerting.  Especially when you realize that this new life is here to stay.  You are forever-more, first and foremost a parent.  It outlasts separation, and death.  You will never love anything more, you will never worry less, you will always be busy and tired, you won't ever make an important decision without considering them first.  There won't be endless dinners out or casual book shopping for a while.  It's the most wonderful, yet also the hardest thing you'll ever experience.  And it's forever.  Gulp.

But parenthood is also an ever-evolving state of being,  You never know what's coming next, or how it will affect you and the decisions you make for your life.  So accepting the sheer permanence of it all is hard enough; but also learning how to be open to changing and evolving in ways that are unfamiliar and unpredictable is damn near terrifying.  Yet - once you accept that it's happening - it can also be exhilirating.  Although there are things about myself I really miss (like the ability to stay awake through a movie), I am slowly learning to embrace this new stage as an opportunity.  Having children has forced me to focus on what I really care about, what I'm willing to speak up about, what I need to work on.   What really makes me happy.  This sort of exercise takes work and change takes courage.  I don't know all of the answers.  But I'm depending on my kids to teach me how to be agile. 

So, Experienced Moms and Dads, next time you see a blissful soon-to-be-parent casually shopping for a crib (while you run in and out of BabysRUs in 2.4 seconds with everything on your list so you can be back at home in time for nap), go easy on them.  They don't know the changes they're in for, it's true.  But knowing that they'll soon experience goodnight kisses, Saturday morning snuggles and the "you won't believe what he said today" recountings with their spouse at the end of the day should reassure you that they'll eventually be just fine.