So often in life, reality falls short of our expectations. I think that some people marry because they are in love with the idea of marriage. The idea of marriage, as it turns out, is a lot different from actually being in a marriage.
I think that the biggest gap between reality and expectation comes when you have your first child. When you are expecting… you are “expecting” something in particular. There is the ideal of a two-way bond between mother and child. You will know just what to do, and when to do it. You and your child, in perfect partnership, will form a circle of unconditional love.
Then, you give birth. It’s a little more uncomfortable than you were expecting. Most babies cry a lot. It’s a puzzle that you often can’t put together. You think you will know just what the baby needs, and how to stop the tears. Hmmm… not so much. But, Oh! Look at that little angel sleeping! Nap time is indeed magical.
Will you ever sleep again? Let’s say that your sleep habits are going to evolve for this point on. Just as you muddle through the days feeling a bit overwhelmed, your baby smiles at you! And so it goes, as you move through the phases of parenthood. You are joyful, and tearful, at times.
When I started this blog, I wrote about my friend, Maryann. She had children older than mine, and used to joke, saying, “It doesn’t get better, it just gets different”. So true! Every age brings it own unique challenges and moments of beauty. It’s an amazing thing to watch your children grow.
Going into it, you think it’s an eighteen to twenty year commitment. When do you stop worrying? Well, my first baby is 38 now, and I haven’t stopped yet. Even when your children are grown up, and have children of their own, you can’t help but think about them and their families.
Another thing that comes completely unexpected when you have your first child. You finally “get” your own mother. You understand a lot of her advice, and a lot of her worrying. It’s definitely an “aha” moment.
I have four children. With each one, I became a little more familiar with the process, and confident with my parenting skills. Of course the more children you have, the more “crazy time” you have at your house. If you have children, I don’t need to explain what that phrase means.
I’ve mentioned before that my daughter is “expecting”. Since it’s her second child, she knows a little bit more about what to actually expect. She’s a wonderful mother to my grandson, Carl, and I know that her new son will be a blessing to our family! I also know she will be tired and feel overwhelmed at times.
Some things remain the same, whether you have children or not. You might be experiencing the ups and downs of marriage. It doesn’t matter if you are single, divorced, widowed, in love, or lonely… you will have good days and bad days. The trick is to remember the good days when you’re in the middle of a bad day.
Parenting is an adventure that I can recommend without reservation. But watch out for those “great expectations”.