When I was pregnant with my son, I spent lots of time wondering about this impending new job they call motherhood. Well, maybe wondering isn’t quite the right term. Daydreaming? No, that sounds pretty nicey-nice and well, dreamy. So probably not.
I think the term would be obsessed.
I obsessed about this new job classification and title. Because that’s what I had always done at work. There were always so many questions that came along with new responsibilities. Jockeying for position within the company, figuring out where on the proverbial ladder you now stood.
Or if you were just holding the ladder for the others.
So the questions about motherhood kept streaming through my mind (probably when I was supposed to be, well, working). Some of the answers didn’t come for several more months, when I had secured the job and was firmly entrenched in it.
Job probably doesn’t do it justice. It’s more like a mild form of indentured servitude.
Is this a promotion?
Well sort of. You’re not the youngest one in your department anymore.
What’s the title?
Chief Executive Purveyor of Milk and Diapers/Head Nurse/Child Psychologist/Sanitation Supervisor. The title doesn’t matter; it changes
How will it look on my new business cards?
Your business card becomes the scrap of dried-out diaper wipe you write your phone number on and give to that nice mom at the park, hoping beyond hope that she’ll call because she seemed to think you were normal.
Well, she did smile and nod a few times when you described that horrible, sticky rash. Which in retrospect was a bit awkward, since it was your rash and not the baby’s.
What will I DO?
And there it was. The biggest question about this whole motherhood thing, and it couldn’t be answered by simply combing the pages of What to Expect When You’re Expecting (first edition…yeah, it was that long ago). Because I spent a lot of time doing just that; trying to find that answer so I would be prepared.
Sixteen years later, I am still figuring it out.
There really was no way to prepare for any of it. Because the thing nobody tells you is that nobody has ever raised your kid. So there’s no book, no podcast, no DVD series that will prepare you.
You will find great advice that may or may not work for you. Sometimes the sheer volume of information overwhelms you, especially with the ever-present Internet. And those well-meaning grandmothers at the grocery store whose advice is so ancient that if you followed it, CPS would likely get involved.
So you just take it as it comes. From diaper rashes to teething; odd crawling styles to pronating feet; speech delays to pronoun confusion. You research, commiserate, whine, drink wine, and do some more research.
At times you are just plain bamboozled.
And through all of these phases and crazes you are actually doing it. You are parenting.
Good for you.
If someone had actually been able to give me, in great detail, the job description for this motherhood gig, I may have laughed. Or asked for a raise.
Maybe I would have been scared.
The benefits of being a parent can’t be quantified, and are unimaginable until you actually become one. These benefits far outweigh some of the tasks required of you that previously would have made you gag.
Sucking gallons of snot out of little noses. Cleaning up vomit-laden sheets and baby at 3am. Driving around the block to quiet a fussy baby. Crazy play dates that result in goldfish cracker sediment ground into your new carpeting and family pets missing large clumps of fur. Picking up the pieces of your child’s broken heart and piecing them back together when friendships go sour. Helping with Algebra homework.
You get through these tasks because you reap the benefits. Cuddling at 3am when your baby is sick. Watching your toddler smile and laugh during that crazy playgroup. Seeing that adorable little face light up when you walk into the room. That look of triumph when they learn to tie their shoes or ride a bike. Those I-can’t-squeeze-you-any-harder hugs.
If subsequent kids come along in your family, they are never the same as the first. Your new-found parenting expertise doesn’t apply to this new kid. But now you have more tools to roll with it, and it’s not as daunting. You start to feel like you can really do this motherhood thing.