I haven’t made much progress on that stack of birth and parenting-related books that sits on our end table.  Partly, it’s that the arrival of the baby still feels so far away – September lies in the unfathomable future.  But beyond that, I am perhaps a little over-confident in our ability to figure out the parent thing on-the-fly.  I want to believe we’ve got it covered.  We have spent the past couple of years building up our love bank for this baby.  And children adore Shane (he’s known as the “baby whisperer” among our friends), so there’s no reason that our kid shouldn’t be head-over-heels for his or her dad.  All you need is love.  Right?  Right?

Maybe I’m being just a wee bit naive.  I was on my way to work via Lightrail a couple of weeks ago when a woman got on with her adorable 2-year old daughter.  The little girl sat in her mama’s lap and babbled sweet nothings while mom stroked her pretty brown curls.  I could so easily picture myself in their shoes, commuting downtown with our perfect babe, soaking in those last few minutes of time together before work and daycare begin.  Precious moments.  But then that little girl started to get squirmy.  And then she started to whine.  And by the time we’d rolled into SoDo (still three stops from downtown), she was shrieking bloody murder on an otherwise silent train, flailing those chubby arms and refusing to be held. Poor mom did her best to restrain her daughter with one hand while she dug around in her bag for a distraction.  She pulled out an iPad and I figured the crisis would soon be averted.  But it took several minutes before the little girl was presented with a satisfactory video and a seat of her liking, and by that time, we had rolled into University Station and it was time for the woman to put away the iPad and pack up her bag.  More wailing and tears ensued, more sympathetic glances were cast mom’s way as she grabbed her daughter and hurried off the train.  And I was left wondering how I would have handled such a meltdown.  Would I stick to Shane’s and my resolution to strictly limit “screen time” for our kid?  Or would I concede that desperate times call for desperate measures and use whatever means possible to get the child to quiet down?  Would I rock her, walk her, coo to her, attempt to reason with her?  I don’t think the “right” answer can be found in any book, and I don’t know that any amount of preparation will eliminate tantrums, but I was slapped with healthy dose of reality that morning.  I was reminded that parenting will sometimes be really, really hard.  It will be full of sky-high joys and depths of unimaginable love, but it will also be riddled with moments of frustration, confusion, and insecurity.

And it will require sacrifice.  I catch myself believing that I won’t really be too tired, that we’ll still have room for spontaneity and freedom, that my maternity leave will be like vacation, full of “bonus time” to rest, to read, to work on my art.  As we sat around a table at Spinasse for dinner last night with Jack, La Verne, Jason, and Nance to revel in what may be our last meal out together for awhile (baby Chen due in just 8 days!), I was struck with how times are changing.  Baby-sitters and feeding schedules will soon require some adjustment in the make-up of our Friday nights. We’re not resigning ourselves to a hermit-like life, but 4-hour multi-course meals might be on hold for awhile.  Shoot!

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It’s absolutely a good thing to anticipate our baby’s arrival with hope and glee, but I also want to embark on this journey with the acknowledgement that it will stretch me in ways I’ve never been stretched.  Things won’t go as expected sometimes, and I’ll need to learn to roll with the punches.  I might not have the “ideal birth”, breast-feeding might bear unforeseen challenges, there might be times when I need to choose rest over having a clean house or a home-cooked meal.  I’ll need lots of help, and I’ll have to put aside my pride to ask for it.  That doesn’t mean I’ve failed.  It just means I need to loosen my tight-fisted grip on complete control and pray for flexibility, for patience, for heaping helpings of grace.  And for the ability to stop and soak in the goodness of those pre-meltdown precious moments.  Because the feeling of wrapping my arms around our child is guaranteed to exceed my wildest dreams.

One Comment

  1. la v says:

    since you bring up a stack of unread parenting books, perhaps you should watch this first… =)