Two years ago, at this very time of year, I was a basket case. I had met the love of my life, and was heading for the marriage altar. We were engaged just before Christmas, and planned our wedding for mid-March. We busied ourselves with work and wedding plans, but even that wasn’t enough of a distraction. I was so excited to get married, I was a complete mad man! January cruised by, but by mid-February time started to seriously drag. By March, I went from counting down weeks to counting down hours. In short, I was beside myself with excitement and anticipation to be married.
Now, two years later, I sit at the same time of year, gearing up for another event which will happen in mid-March, right around our two year anniversary: the birth of our first child, hereafter known on this blog as WEJr.
WEJr wasn’t really a “surprise” – we anticipated having kids around this time in our marriage. We both want children, but I’m going to be really honest and say that – and this probably applies to most singles and newlyweds – that we wanted children in a very “MASH” type of way.
You know, MASH, right? The silly little game kids play to determine who you will marry, what age, how many kids you’ll have, and of course, whether you’ll live in a mansion, apartment, shack or house (hence MASH).
Now that it’s actually happening, though, and since I’ve been staring down the proverbial single-barreled shotgun for the last 7 months, I’m here to say in the open – I’m still not totally comfortable with becoming a parent; and I’m kind of sad to say that I’m not glowing with the same amount of blind emotion and excitement. (Wow – look at the punctuation in that sentence… is it a run on? I dont’ really know…)
I haven’t really fully diagnosed the emotions yet. I’m not disappointed, I’ve always looked forward to having kids someday. I’m not scared, there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s not like I’m doing something no one has ever done before. Most people in the world do it with a lot less than I will. I’m not feeling unprepared. Compared to most people who unwittingly become parents out there, I’m golden.
I understand that “pragmatic realism” isn’t an emotion – but it’s the best word I can use to sum up my feelings about becoming a parent.
When people ask me how I feel and if I’m excited, I really don’t know what to say. The real answer is, “Uhh… sure… yeah. If I’m going to suffer, might as well get started now.” It’s almost as if it were a math test or chinese puzzle I had to solve before getting to eat dinner.
See, I started this whole journey under no delusions that being a parent will be painless. It will involve a lot of physical and emotional sacrifice. We’ll invest years of care, attention, love, and money into a child that has a pretty good chance of resenting us, using us, and intentionally doing the opposite of everything we say – and we’re forced to love him anyway. Our child will want things we can’t give him, have issues we can’t relate or deal with, or will (in some other way) make our lives a living hell.
Then again, maybe my kids won’t be as bad as my siblings… 🙂 (sorry guys, I had to get the jab in)
Feeling that way, I’m just struggling to manufacture the excited, “Oh man, I’m soooooo stoked for this kid to come!” emotions.
The irony is that this used to be exactly how I felt about marriage – before I met A2. I thought it would be more work than it would be fun, that the difficulty of it would overshadow the joy of it, and that the unpredictability of it would be too much of a risk to bear to my safe, cautious, fragile mental state.
And maybe that’s what I struggle with most – the unpredictability. I knew (as much as I could) what married life would be like with A2. I had a good trial period on that, and in spite of my prejudices about marriage, I liked and felt comfortable with her enough to take the plunge. But with a child, you roll the dice and what you get, you get. No exchanges, no returns. And maybe that’s what is driving me bananas, the unpredictability.
(Ben did point out to me recently that I’m perceived as a control freak, though I just view myself as ‘particular’.)
I know, I know… all you parents who made it to this point are just laughing to yourselves. I realize I sound a bit like a self-absorbed noob. I know you are thinking (with your fist shaking in the air), “Just wait until the fatigue sets in and you can’t even think straight… then we’ll see how impressive your blog is, WhiteEyebrows.”
Just let me have my learning moment. I don’t have to know everything that’s going to happen to me before it happens… (Right? Right? See I’m learning already to cope with the unknowable – now if I can just learn to have some blind joy in it.)
11 thoughts on “Mental Preparation for WEJr”
Im sooooo excited to watch you change WEJr’s first run-on diaper.
As a fellow control freak, let me say, I think your state of mind is actually really REALLY healthy right now. I think that fear is a completely rational thing to feel. KNOWING all of the stuff that will inevitably happen and embracing it now, you will be pleasantly surprised. Cliche as it is, there’s no way to prepare for loving something as much as you’ll love your kid. All of that other stuff will still be true. And you will want to die from the sleep deprivation… but there’s a REASON they’re born helpless and adorable and cuddly. There’s a REASON they don’t show up as rebellious teenagers. God knows what he’s doing. He makes it impossible not to love them. And it truly does manage to make up for the other stuff.
That’s not to say you won’t be fully aware of the suckiness sometimes, though. You will know it sucks. (People that say you forget are full of it, and clearly not control freaks) But life with a kid is constantly changing, so you seldom have to deal with one kind of suckiness for very long. 🙂
This morning I scrubbed poop out of my son’s Lightning McQueen undies. I was not feeling very “Hooray for parenthood” in that moment.
Last Saturday, husband cleaned up pee that said son sprayed all over the bathroom when he tried to go by himself. He was not feeling very “Hooray for parenthood” in that moment.
But we both survived. And now we laugh about it. You and A2 will survive too. And all the unpredictability brings lots of funny moments that somehow fill you with joy and make it worth it.
Well, finally someone in the same boat as me (or at least brave enough to admit it : ) Everyone says you should be so excited about kids and oh what fun, but I think the people who really feel that way don’t like to sleep much anyway or don’t care if their house becomes chaos or routine goes out the window. I, on the other hand, basically hated parenthood for the first year…yeah, yeah, you just do what you have to do and survive each day. But it’s hard for automatic love to spring forth for a crying, demanding baby that won’t let you sleep or even grocery shop in peace. There were so many times when all I did was watch the clock and think, it cannot get more boring than this. Well, I still do that sometimes, but not so much anymore. I realize I’m not a baby person at all (for me babyhood is something that cannot pass too quickly), and while I love my son like crazy it did take a while to develop that love. I love his age now…he’s my best companion and makes me laugh and be a better person. It’s so much more enriching when you can actually teach your kids something and watch them learn. So I just tell myself that the first year or two of a child’s life is just the time you have to put in to get to the fun stuff later. Not that parenthood should be just about having fun. So you’re actually probably feeling what most parents feel like but no one wants to admit. You may fall head over heels in love with your new little one or it may take some time to develop a relationship there, but it’s all about the journey and everyone gets there a little differently. Sometimes you will just be going through the motions of being a good, caring parent and then one day, it won’t just be motions anymore but a sense of fulfillment. And take heart…most kids turn out decent, despite all the mistakes we parents make along the way. You’ll survive and in the meantime you can always bemoan those sleepless nights on your blog : )
Thank you for writing about this!
I really do want kids, but they scare the beans out of me. I mean, on top of the comparatively easy stuff like feeding, washing, changing, protecting, you have to teach them. Like, big, BIG stuff. Morals, values, right, wrong. I’m thoroughly convinced all my kids will be eyebrow-pierced heroin addict prostitutes selling my wedding ring to pay for diapers for countless illegitimate children that I’LL end up raising and inevitably screwing up.
Sigh. I know people parent successfully, and the odds of all my kids mainlining smack at age 5 are comparatively low, but it still scares me. Good to know I’m not the only one who’s scared!
I love your honesty WE. Here’s a couple of thoughts. There is absolutely nothing, NOTHING that compares to the feeling you will feel when you hear your son (or daughter) bear their testimony and they don’t just say what they’ve heard you or others say but you know that they really KNOW what is true and it is uniquely their own testimony. It is a truly exquisite experience. Then there is sort of the other end of the scale which is the feeling you experience when you take your child, this person who has been such a central part of your very existence for 17 or 18 years, off to college and you realize that they are basically done. You’ve just launched the ship. Oh, yeah, the ship may return to port now and then or you may meet up with the ship in another port for a visit but the ship is still mostly gone from your daily life.
I second Papa’s words. Even though Nicholas is only 3 1/2, it makes my heart swell when I see him going into Sunbeams with his scriptures in hand or the other night at FHE when asked why we go to church, he said to take the sacrament (and we never told him that). Or when they give you hugs and say I love you. Those are the moments that make all the other crappy ones worth it. It really is a roller coaster – it’s just harder the first year when you don’t get much response from them (but remember we were all babies once and our parents put up with us : )
Very nice blog…a couple of thoughts…yup…
I think your biggest problem is that you might be struggling with the reality of not being the big shot in the family anymore. You know what I mean??? Jr. will be the center of attention and you will be asked or told what you will be doing next, who will get fed first and on and on on. And you know what, he won’t come with a hand-book of instruction. I am a proud parent of 6 children ( the best that ever came to plant earth) 24 grand children and 16 great grand children not including WEjunior.They are the most precious souls in my life.
As you and A2 work together,you will have great success, and joy and happiness will come into your home, even during stressful times. Speaking from experience, just take my word on it.
Well at least we now know why you are dreading it.
@Grape – Have you seen how I get bossed? I think I gave up being the big shot a couple of years ago.