Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What I Wish I Knew

I have been a momma for 17 months. And although most days I can barely remember life without a child, relatively speaking 17 months is not a long time; so, before 17 months turns into 17 years, I want to chronicle some things while they are still fresh. With any luck they'll be useful to someone else, too. 

Here are five things I wish someone would have sat me down and said to me before I became a parent:

* Becoming a parent is indescribably beautiful. Whether you give birth to a child, adopt a child, or become a guardian in another way, any time a child comes into your life you are changed forever. While I was pregnant I heard much about sleepless nights, diaper explosions, and other horror stories that experienced parents inexplicably inflict onto soon-to-be parents; but, what I didn't know was that the joy, beauty, and wonder a child brings into your life is more than worth all of that other stuff. I am astounded at how much I absolutely love being a mom (see the post "Surprises"). It is a beautiful thing to pour into a little life and watch it grow.

* Take no one's advice. (Okay, someone did tell me this, but it is worth repeating.) God gave this child to you. You are the perfect parent for them, and they are the perfect child for you. Whether you call it providence, fate, or chance, your lives have crossed and you are the one(s) who will know this child best. Yes, there is much to be gleaned from the wisdom of others and there is certainly a place for that; however, at the end of the day you must make your own choices about how to raise your child. There is an intricate but elegant dance between the weight of this responsibility and the gift of its honor.

* There is no secret combo. This was an expectation I didn't know I had: if I have fed, burped, changed, swaddled, and soothed my baby, she should be happy. Right? WRONG. I think I knew this in theory, but in practice I was shocked! Why is my baby still crying after I have met every one of her needs that I can possibly think of? Why won't she go to sleep?! This is when you must remember the previous point. Your instinct is your best asset. Go with it. There isn't a secret combination to your child's happiness; and, just when you think you may have found one, it will change. Which leads me to my next thought...

* Murphy's Law becomes your new life rule. It becomes exponentially more true in your life when you have children. Think your situation can't get any worse? It will. Can it go wrong? It will. That day that you all have the stomach flu (the two-ender of course) and you just don't think you will make it, will absolutely positively without question become the day that the dog runs away, the power goes out, your basement floods, your car won't start, and your hair catches fire. Not even kidding. I used to think that these kinds of things were just funny things parents said for attention or sympathy. But no. They say it because it's true. You have been warned.

* Guilt and worry are your new BFF's. At least they are for me, and most of my mommy-friends. I remember being out-of-my-mind worried about SIDS. Here you are with your beautiful, brand new bundle of joy, and all of the experts are warning you about the very real possibility that your baby could suddenly and without cause, die. It is a very real and tragic occurrence for many families, so it is worth worrying about. But it doesn't stop there. Each new stage brings new worries. And the guilt. OH, the GUILT. Are you a working mom? You'll feel guilty for being away from your child. Stay-at-home-mom? You'll feel guilty for not helping to provide financially. Get a little bored with the same-old-mundane-every-day routine? You'll feel guilty for not "cherishing every moment". Live close to grandparents? You'll feel guilty for how often you ask them to watch the kids. Live far away from grandparents? You'll feel guilty for how infrequently they get to see the kids. You catch my drift. Whatever you do, you will always wonder if you could have done it differently or better. That is part of the gig, and part of the great adventure.

What kinds of things do you wish you knew before becoming a parent? Let me know in the comments below!

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