We’d only been married six months. He was still in law school. We were still in debt. Massive debt.
We were still getting into the groove of marriage. We were still learning to be roommates and best friends and lovers. We were still figuring out how to survive in the “and in health” part. We definitely weren’t ready to make it in the “and in morning sickness” part.
We were still learning how to share with each other. We definitely weren’t ready to share with a baby.
But there it was, a positive pregnancy test.
And in a flash, our entire life changed. One little pee changed everything about life as we knew it, or were learning to know it.
My husband came home the next day with grocery bags full of “the top 10 foods pregnant women should be eating.” He spent the whole day googling instead of studying. He spent the whole day researching instead of listening to his professors. He is rational and calm and collected, but he wasn’t ready to be a dad yet, either.
I don’t remember everything he brought home that day, but I remember the tuna fish. I hate tuna fish. Like, get-out-of-my-face-and-into-the-trash-can-next-door hate. As soon as I saw it, I took off, out of the house and down the sidewalk. Our poor neighbors. Heaven knows what they thought. I imagine them peeking through their blinds like the crazy neighbor on Bewitched on the phone with her best friend documenting our every move:
“OK, and the wife just starting running down the sidewalk. I dunno. I mean . . . she’s still in her work clothes. It looks like she’s wearing heels. Oh she’s gonna—she’s gonna fall. Ohhhhh! Oh, OK. There she goes. She just collapsed on the pavement. I knew she couldn’t get far.
“Ohhhh, OK. It’s getting good now. Eeeeeeeeee! He just came out of the door after her. Girl, I wonder what it is. I hope they aren’t having marital problems already. I really do. But, just between me and you, she never cooks and he’s home at really odd hours, so I wouldn’t be shocked.
“She’s still on the ground. I don’t. I can’t hear anything. Maybe I should go help them. I can’t remember her name though. Amber? Maybe it’s Amber. Or Abby? I’ve never met him. Honestly, I don’t even think he has a job. Maybe he goes door-to-door. He always has a backpack. Gahhhhh . . . they’ve been sitting there a while. Poor things.
“OK, OK, OK, it looks like they’re hugging now. She’s crying. Awwww, she has mascara everywhere. I wonder what kind she uses? I want to make sure I don’t buy that because it is ALL over her face.
“OK, he helped her up. They’re walking back inside. I’ll call you later and let you know. Yes, yes. Yeah, so OK, I’ve gotta go. The meatloaf is in the oven.”
I don’t know what I was trying to run from: maybe tuna fish, maybe responsibility, maybe the weight of the unknown crashing on my body that I knew wasn’t going to be skinny much longer. I don’t know. But I ran, and I waved my arms around and I screamed “I don’t want to eat tuna fish!!! I’m not eating it and YOU can’t make me!” Thank goodness I’m not dramatic, never have been.
Nine months passed.
Five hours of labor passed. (Yes, it was a ridiculously easy birth. Feel free to hate me.)
Two days in the hospital passed.
And we brought our tiny baby boy home. I was terrified of him. I was terrified of how small he felt. I was terrified of how he cried, how he turned red when he screamed, how he wouldn’t sleep. I was terrified of the way he ate. Or didn’t eat. I didn’t know! I couldn’t tell! How are you supposed to tell whether or not they are getting enough in their bellies?!?!?!?
I was terrified of his poopy diapers.
I was terrified of trimming his fingernails. (Genuinely terrified. The first time I tried to buy baby fingernail clippers, I left Babies”R”Us with empty hands and eyes full of tears.)
I was terrified of everything on WebMD. (Our pediatrician actually banned me from the entire internet after hearing my list of concerns.)
Now I’d love to tell you that everything just “came to me.” That everything suddenly felt natural. That everything just magically settled into place when that baby was in my arms.
A good writer would do that. But I’m not a good writer, I’m an honest writer. So I’m gonna lay it all out for you.
Nothing got easier. Not marriage, not motherhood, not figuring out our tangled finances. Definitely not driving around in the middle of the night trying to get that baby to go to sleep.
The truth is, we made a lot of mistakes as first-time parents. A LOT. And we still make a lot of mistakes as third-time parents, five years down the road.
We aren’t sure that our son is at the best school for him. We aren’t sure that time-outs and chore charts and flash cards are benefiting him whatsoever. We aren’t sure how to deal with temper tantrums and back-talk and spoiled bratty attitude. We aren’t sure which sports to put him in, how many is too many, and if he has any eye-hand coordination whatsoever. We aren’t sure that he can survive on chicken nuggets alone.
We aren’t sure of much.
And you probably won’t be either.
Every day is so different. Every day is so gray. Every day is so subjective to change.
You can be sure you’re going to mess a lot of things up. You can be sure you’re going to make mistakes. You can be sure you’re going to sit there and scratch your head, and Google things, and get a lot of unwanted calls from teachers that will make you question every parenting decision you’ve ever made.
But you can also be sure you’re going to love that baby like crazy. You can be sure that little one is going to fit right into your family, and become your family and become your whole world. You can be sure God gave you this baby for a reason, for a purpose.
You won’t be ready.
Parenthood isn’t really about that, though. Parenthood is about being willing: to make mistakes, to get back up, to try and try again, to love and to love more, to give your time and then give your grace and then give your last bite of chocolate cake.
Go ahead and read the books, take the birth classes, register for way too much stuff. You still won’t be ready. And it’ll all be ok, because none of us were either.
But you will be just what that baby needs.