If you’re like me, you dreamed of a life involving children since you were a child. You couldn’t wait to be a mother one day. You imagined dressing them up, feeding them pretty bottles or rocking gently while nursing, taking them on walks, giving them peaceful and bonding baths, and generally enjoying every minute with your new, Johnson-and-Johnson-lotion-smelling bundle of joy and cuteness! And then they were born. “Oh. My. Goodness. What have I gotten myself into? “ I don’t know about you, but that quickly became the thought that crossed my mind daily.
I remember giving birth to my first baby, having a C-Section after 36 hours of labor. I was a wreck. I was exhausted, drugged, and looked scarier than I every have in my life. The nurses were kind enough to take the baby to the nursery so I could get some sleep that first night in the hospital. Then the next night, I asked them to do that again after he was fed and asleep, so I too could rest up. The nurse told me the nursery was full and the baby would have to stay with me the whole night. I remember clear as day asking her, “but what about me, I need to get some sleep” to which she replied, “welcome to motherhood honey!” I was appalled. The rudeness! The dismissal of my needs! Wasn’t she a caretaker? Wasn’t it her job to help me? That was the beginning of the shocks of motherhood. What seemed so insensitive and dismissive to me at the time was actually the beginning of the journey that would often look like that. Because, unlike the cute fairytale we dream of, babies actually spit up, poop up their backs, cry, throw food, refuse to nurse, stay up half the night, and have about every other issue that will feel like it is sure to be the breaking point for any new mother!
Eventually they get a little older, and it all gets easier, right? I wish! Then they enter toddlerhood, and the war between parent and child ensues. You thought your baby could have a temper tantrum, you ain’t seen nothing until you’re in the midst of a toddler tantrum! Eventually those years pass (some days not fast enough) and you finally enter what’s called the latency years (my husband, the biology major, laughs at the reference to disease this stage is named after). These are the few “peaceful” years in childhood development. Though I think “peaceful” is way too extreme of a word. I’d say it’s just a little easier during those years than the years of differentiation (toddler and teen years). Then of course there’s the tween and teen years. I’m sure in time you’ll find many articles on those years in this section!
Boy, I’ve sure painted a grim picture, haven’t I? If I didn’t know better, I’d wonder if I even enjoy parenting. The truth is, I do, very much. I wouldn’t change the craziness and eventfulness of my family of 5 for the world. But it sure isn’t the picture perfect image I had as a kid, or even as an adult, all the way up to becoming a mother. It is a crazy adventure, to say the least. Children challenge us in every way. The lessons that can be extracted from parenting can be some of the most powerful ones we can learn. If we pay attention, we can experience a lot of personal growth during this time, because we are forced to look within and change what doesn’t work. But there is also a ton of opportunity for things like conflict, hurt feelings, insecure attachment, helicopter or drill sergeant parenting, rebellion, the list goes on and on. The good news is, parenting does not require perfection, it just requires that we try to do right by our children, or at least the best we can. My goal through this eventful journey as a parent is to help create well adjusted, loving, kind, responsible children. My goal for this section is to assist you all in doing so as well. “Welcome to motherhood (or fatherhood), honey!”