My older sister was recently telling me a story about a couple that she has known for years and the events of their first year as grandparents.
Their daughter and son in law, like so many new parents, had found themselves overwhelmed with the challenges that came with a new baby. They had even temporarily moved in with with the grandparents for a little extra support and assistance.
One evening, my sister was having dinner with all of them and the topic of parenting came up.
The son in law said in a bit of exasperation, “No one ever tells you how ‘strong expletive ending in –ing’ HARD it is!”
I laughed a little at the story with my now 14+ years of parenting under my belt. I understood where he came from, but I knew he was wrong.
I was quite certain people had indeed told them how hard it would be, because people love to share those kinds of things with expectant parents.
However, I’m sure similar to my own experience and that of many others, the blissful anticipation of your first bundle of joy coming into your life makes it almost impossible for you to hear anything but the fairytale you want to believe it will be.
In parenting, there are some things you have to really live to understand.
Like being so exhausted, you would sell your soul for even five minutes of uninterrupted sleep.
But then being so terrified of allowing yourself to sleep because you fear the moment you let down your new mommy vigilance, your child could fall victim to any number of your worst nightmares.
In less time than it takes for your heart to beat, you wonder if that would really be so bad because at least you could get some sleep.
Then your heart finishes its beat, and you ask yourself, “Did I really just think that?” You are immediately horrified with yourself and decide that sleep deprivation must be driving you out of your ever-loving mind!
Eventually, that baby becomes a child and that child gets older and you DO sleep again.
Things get just a little bit easier.
We need to stop warning parents about how awful the next phase is
But then people start all over with new warnings.
“You think having a baby was hard, you just wait. Raising teenagers, now that’s hard!”
And your more rested self smiles politely while once again tuning out their words.
But before too long, that child is almost as tall as you, and they’re going to high school and talking about driver’s licenses and college.
You begin to realize your time with this precious creation of yours is ticking away faster every day.
You wish and plead and bargain with your soul again to slow the moments down.
Once again you are terrified of the unknown that lies in wait for your child outside your watchful eyes.
But then, in less time than it takes your heart to beat, you have a flash to the future in a home without all the noise and busy and worry that fill your days now, and it seems so alluringly calm and peaceful.
Then your heart finishes its beat and you are once more horrified with yourself and these crazy thoughts.
But this time, there is no sleep deprivation to blame.
It is then that you realize THIS IS MOTHERHOOD.
It is ‘strong expletive ending in –ing” hard!
More than that – it can be terrifying and horrifying and there are moments you would sell your soul to make end.
But it is also love and joy and filled with so many more moments that, in less time than it takes your heart to beat, you would sell your soul to make last forever.