After our first baby was born, after the endorphin waved had passed, after the shock of being new parents had simmered down a bit, after all the family and visitors had left and Steve had gone back to work, I remember the feeling I had…and it’s probably the sort of feeling that some of the Titanic passengers felt when they walked onto the deck that night and saw the iceberg- a feeling of doom.
I didn’t have postpartum depression, but I did have the baby blues. I don’t know many women who don’t. The biggest dip in hormones our bodies will ever experience happens after birth- this puts any roller coaster at Six Flags to shame. For real.
But it was more than that.
It was being overwhelmed that I was this little person’s ENTIRE world. AND overwhelmed at the sheer responsibility that was mine to keep this person alive. It was wondering if I had/ we had made a gigantic mistake in becoming parents. I didn’t recognize myself, my life or this whole new world. And I didn’t like it. At all.
On the one hand, I loved this tiny bundle like crazy. But on the other hand I wanted my old life back. I was at odds with myself. And being overwhelmed was the cherry on top of this parenting pie.
As Jackson grew, the feeling I had of being overwhelmed sort of evened itself out in my life. I adjusted. We all adjusted to the “new normal” that comes with being a new family. The fact that “getting things done” now took a back seat to sleep, to eating, to nurturing, to holding, to comforting and to doing many things which aren’t the kind of things you check off a list. It turns out, these are the kind of things that you savor forever and look back with regret and wonder why you didn’t do more of them.
As overwhelming as it is being a parent and being responsible to teach your child everything they need to know (because, let’s face it, you and I want our kids to learn things “right.” Am I right?), these years that we have our little ones close are some of the sweetest, fastest years we’ll experience. And they’ll be gone in a blink.
If I had a dollar for everytime I heard that…
And what about the whole “being a parent is the best, there’s just nothing like having your own kids…” how many times did you hear that one?
And yet it’s true.
They’re all true.
That’s why they’re cliches, cause they’re freaking true.
So when friends of mine, with teenagers and adults, tell me things, I listen.
One of my friends was saying that as exhausting and frustrating and relentless as it is raising little ones, preschool aged kids…your kids are all yours. She reminded me that the Control Freak in me should be ecstatic that these little people I am gifted with, are in my control. There’s nowhere they go, nothing (almost nothing) they do that is not signed off on, overseen, or endorsed by me. I create their world.
My friend then told me that this disappears… the control is replaced with letting go, with hoping, praying, wishing and worrying -that your child has paid attention these last 10 to 15 years and that they will make good choices while they are at that Homecoming Dance- that they are where they even say they are- that all that self sacrifice you made all those years ago transfers over to them and they decide their fate, responsibly and safely (for the love of God).
As soon as she told me that, my eyes teared up and I looked at my little ones who require nothing short of ALL of me, ALL the time, and I decided in that moment to be thankful that I know where my kids are and what they’re doing.
For it won’t always be that way. One day I will find myself gently reminding a new mother that being where she is isn’t so bad, that pouring herself out to her kids and trying so hard to find herself in the midst of that chaos, isn’t so bad, the sleepless nights, the cranky days and trying to figure out WHAT THE HELL is going on with nap times, and changing sheets umpteen times after bed wetting- really isn’t so bad.
Hold on and hold on tight for they won’t always be so small and depend on you so much and then you’ll wish they did.