Thursday, January 31, 2013

We're all flying by the seat of our pants here
I have several friends right now expecting children.  Some are pregnant and some are in the process of adoption.  Either way, new parents are new parents - giddy with anticipation, anxious with worry, and all in all completely idealistic in the giant "unknown" that's in store for them.

Ah, I remember those days.  I remember my perception of what parenthood would be like.  Having years of nannying experience and being an aunt to 7 nephews and nieces before having my own, I thought I was about as seasoned as they come when it came to knowing what raising a child would be like.  I was ripe with earnest enthusiasm when it came to predicting the schedule shift, lack of sleep, and complete interruption my new bundle of joy was about to bestow upon my nest.

And then, I actually became a parent, and my dreamy bubble burst like a poorly fastened diaper on a full belly.  Kapow!  And I found myself shrugging my shoulders in disbelief and exhaustion that I, too, had fallen victim to the notion that I thought I knew what I was doing.  I didn't.  I don't.

Now, only a few years of parenting under my belt, I find myself in the seat of the bestower of said-advice instead of the bestowee.  (I know that's not a real word.)  But, it's true.  With so many friends becoming first-time parents after myself, they tend to turn to me as one source of information they can rely on for "telling them like it is" and so forth.  And, I love it.  I mean, I love everything that has to do with pregnancy and birth and raising kids, I could talk about it for-just-about-ever and still find new things to question or examine.  It's kind of one of those inexhaustible topics that is ever-changing and so, it's easy to keep re-examining how it all works!

While I love to talk about it though, I laugh at the idea that I might necessarily have a clue what I'm talking about!  Indeed, one of the first bubbles to burst in parenthood is the fact that we're all kind of flying by the seat of our pants when it comes to raising a kid.  Nevertheless, as the questions come, I can't help but give my take on whatever-child-rearing-subject arises and do my best to leave them feeling excited and validated.  However, I rarely predict that's the case.

Current parents can't help but sound condescending to a parent-to-be.

I remember this well.  I hated it when I was expecting.  I mean, there's only so many times you can hear "go see more movies now" or "get sleep while you can" or "you have no idea how hard it is" or "you know you'll have to watch her all the time" before you just want to punch someone in the face!  I completely remember feeling like I wanted to wear a sign saying "I'm pregnant, not stupid" just so people would shut-up already and stop trying to tell me how much I didn't know.

She can totally tell I have no clue what I'm doing
And yet, here I am...the giant condescender of information, belittling my expectant friends with my bubble-bursting anecdotes of truth (out of love!)  Yikes.  How can this be helped?  Have I earned this right or should I shut up and let them enjoy the idea of never letting their kid watch TV and always having the laundry folded and put away neatly?

Just the other day, one of these expectant mothers texted me saying, "I don't want my child to eat anything that's not truly organic."  My response?  That's cool.  Just don't feel bad when you eventually lose it and find yourself throwing chicken McNuggets at her.  It will happen.  You will both survive.

Becoming a parent isn't about becoming perfect.  It can't be.  It won't be.  We each have our bubbles and our unique process that bursts them somehow in someway along the journey of growing into the individual our new child shapes us up to be.  That involves growing pains on both our parts, parent and child.

Don't get me wrong - ideals are WONDERFUL.  Establish them, strive for them, even cling to them for inspiration!  But, don't be controlled by them.  The biggest piece of advice I can give to parents-to-be now is this:

When you disappoint yourself (because you will), don't buy into the lie that you're not what your child needs.  Chances are, you have just crossed a new boundary stepping into the person you are supposed to become.

If that takes a few chicken McNuggets to get there...I'm cool with that. This isn't to say that your mistakes are "good".  (Probably far from it.)  But, when I allow myself the freedom to let go of the control, let go of what I consider the perfect picture of parenthood to look like, then I'm one step away from retreating to what I really need:  Jesus.  If I'm being really honest with myself, that's all I really want to model for my children...not someone who has it all together and is always right and always looks great (especially since that is impossible), but someone who turns to Jesus when I get reminded again and again that I'm not.

And for all those loving parents who tried to warn me ahead of time, let me say Thanks for trying.  I may not have received everything that you said at the time, but I certainly heard it.  The fog has lifted and I can clearly see now that I have no idea how to do this parenting thing.  Ha!  The great news is...we're not in it alone.

Welcome aboard, new parents.  Get ready to burst that bubble.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments make my day! Please share!

Proudly designed by | mlekoshiPlayground |