There are few more amazing things in life than becoming a parent. Whether you gave birth to a child, or became a parent through adoption, whether you were a young mom, or became a mom later in life, I think we, as moms, all would agree that parenting is also one of the most challenging tasks we have ever been given.
I remember the day I brought my first son home from the hospital. I was 22, I was exhausted, and I had never changed a diaper before, and wondered what I was supposed to do next? I looked in the bag the hospital sent home with me. There were a few diapers, a few wipes, a nasal syringe, baby finger nail clippers, but there were no directions. There was no step by step guide as to what I was supposed to do if he cried, or if he wouldn’t sleep, or if I began to lose my mind (which I did).
I wanted to have a child, don’t get me wrong. My husband and I had been married two years; we had bought our first house, so we thought we were ‘ready’ to have a baby. But is there really such thing as ever being ready? How can one prepare for such a life changing over-haul? Suddenly there is this extra person that I am expected to care for, and feed, and change, and clean up after.
I survived the newborn stage (barely). My mom came out for a few days, and so did my mother-in-law, and the next six weeks were a blur. And then he started rolling over, and crawling, and sitting up, then walking, then I found myself expecting again. And when my son was 21 months old, I gave birth to my little girl. Now I had to manage a toddler and a newborn. Again, I looked in the hospital bag and there were still no instructions. (They really need to look into that). As we were leaving the hospital, one of the nurses said to me, you’re a second time mom; you know what you’re doing. Sure I knew how to change a diaper, and breast feed, and burp a baby, and cook dinner with a newborn in a sling on my front, and keep the house semi-organized, but how was I going to do that with a toddler in tow too?
Then less than three years later we welcomed another little boy into our life. Again as before, no directions on how to manage a newborn, a two year old, and four year old, and not lose my own mind in the hospital bag. They just sent me on my way and expected me to figure it out. And I did. I figured out how to get my act together and manage three little ones.
But I’ve come to realize, though, that the newborn stage was nothing. Bringing home two more successive children was also nothing. Because as children grow, your parenting evolves and becomes infinitely more challenging. They are not babies you can just carry around with you anymore who sleep all day and are happy if you feed them. They start to grow, and mature and talk and ask questions. They begin to quarrel with their siblings, and get into the cleaning cabinet, and experiment with scissors (and hair), and they want to play sports, and they begin to read and you can’t spell out curse words anymore after you stub your toe (hypothetically speaking, of course). You have to decide how to keep them eating healthy without breaking the bank, and how to keep them entertained and not allow too much TV, and how to socialize, and how to potty train, and how to tie their shoes.
And then one day, you send your children off to school. How does one send a part of oneself off to school anyway? You send them off to school hoping that you raised them right, and taught them manners, taught them to be respectful and polite, yet stand up for themselves if need be, taught them to get dressed by themselves, and remember their jacket off the playground. You hope you taught them to never talk to strangers, or get in a car with one, or do anything that might in anyway hurt them causing their mothers to have minor heart attacks. You hope that you send them off to school knowing that they are the apple of your eye and life wouldn’t exist without them, and that all you want is the best for them (even if you lose your cool sometimes).
Every day I wake up and thank God for my kids. I don’t always know what I’m doing, but I know how fortunate I am to have three children to love and care for. I have also come to understand and realize that this parenting journey has only just begun.