A few days ago, I had a conversation with a dear friend and soon-to-be-parent. But there happened to be a toddler pulling at my blouse at the time and I was having difficulty articulating the information I wanted to offer.
Shortly thereafter, I wrote the same friend an email to clarify the parent-gleanings I was feeling such a need to share. And in the process of writing that email, I realized just how genuinely excited I am for these dear friends to know themselves as parents.
When that baby arrives, her parents will welcome her into their lives and into their hearts and minds, having carved out a huge, cozy, sheepskin embrace to wrap her in. But she is not the only new face that will be in attendance postpartum; there will also be the newly sanctified parent-versions of my friends staring back from the bathroom mirror. A mom brushing her teeth. A dad shaving his face. Well, hello there.
I feel motherhood has given me access to a part of myself—one that is capable of insurmountable strength and patience, of the deepest, most penetrating love and empathy—that I simply hadn't known before. Perhaps there are other methods to acquaint oneself with such a state of selflessness and shocking capability, but I find it safe to say none could be so direct as parenting. As they say, it's the ultimate Bodhisattva vow.
Needless to say, there were multiple introductions going on in our house during those first few weeks.
And I get giddy at the thought of our friends having the opportunity to know themselves in such a different way. We loved them like family when we were two kid-less couples and then when we were one kid-less couple. Soon we will be meeting in the land of kiddos, two no-kid-less couples, where warm child-bodies in sleepers nuzzle into necks. The place where finely honed parental-eyes notice intricate details of development, akin to watching a tulip painstakingly hatch from her buried bulb and burst forth from the surface. A sort of hyper-vision that anyone who is not a parent to your child is impervious to.
The following is taken from the email I wrote to get to the heart of what I was trying to say:
I wanted to sincerely apologize for something I said this morning.
When you mentioned that your parent-friends said the first 3 months of the baby's life are the hardest, I said something like "it's not all that hard."
Why I said that, I'm not quite sure.
What I meant to say—and perhaps it would've come out better if we were in a different environment—was that there's just SO MUCH MORE TO IT THAN THAT.
Sure, the first few months will be full of WTF?! and HOW DO WE DO THIS?
and you will feel like you are inventing the wheel on a moment-by-moment basis.
But you will totally ROCK and be continuously amazed by what you are capable of
AND you will have this child in your arms, this precious brilliant little being who is reaching for you and who allows you to experience love so deeply and so profoundly that your insides feel as if they've been flipped inside out and hung to dry in the sweetest breeze.
It is the farthest thing from easy to be a parent, no matter what the age.
Matter of fact, I wrote a trilogy of blogs last month about Opal's intense toddler-oppositoning and our numerous, unsuccessful, attempts at discipline.
There were many mornings I wanted an escape and I was flat-out exhausted a lot of the time.
And yet, she continued to amaze us and make us laugh with the funny, genius shit she says and she continued to bring her unbearable light to our days even while we went through that intense patch.
Frankly, you will be able to roll with whatever comes your way—easy days, hard days, and every goddam thing that comes in between.
Some days gracefully and some days not so much.
(Acceptance, self-forgiveness and self-trust in parenting are all things I will continuously be learning and working with until the day I die.)
But I guarantee for those first few months and beyond when people ask you both how it's going, there will be a dozen other words IN ADDITION TO 'hard' that will also be in your description, including—but not limited to—WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW.
Not easy. Insanely rewarding.
I hope this made sense.
It was bugging me to feel like I left it this morning saying parenthood is a bowl of cherries and a box of chocolate and nothing else.
In fact, in my experience, parenting is proving to be a bowl of cherries and a box of chocolates and EVERYTHING else.
In conclusion, go on with your bad selves, soon-to-be mama and papa.