27 Feb
Posted in: parenting
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Motherhood: Are You Ready for This?

Are You Ready for Little Feet? Useful for Making Footprints on the Heart

I was delusional 12 years ago.

I was pregnant for the first time and not thinking past my due date. Perfectly nice people, who were parents, would ask, “Are you ready for the baby?” In my delusional state I would reply affirmatively. We wanted this baby boy. We were ecstatic to meet and hold him. We had the crib, diapers, clothes, etc. I was ready. I’m convinced now those “nice” people were laughing internally about how naive I was.

I try not to ask first-time moms if they’re ready. It’s all I can do when I hear someone ask the question to not cut-in and answer before the pregnant woman even has a chance to open her mouth. What I want to tell first time mamas is this, “You’re not ready, and that’s alright. No one ever is. We’re just a bunch of posers. Parenting is on-the-job training at its best. You are about to understand what the word love really means.”

With all four pregnancies, I lamented in labor and delivery about how things were not going to be okay. I was certain this entire baby thing was a bad idea. I was nervous, scared, excited and most definitely not ready. Each and every day I’m still not ready. I’m never quite sure what’s going to happen, what someone might say or do. Every time the elementary school calls, I hold my breath just a little. That call could mean anything. I’ve had to pick up vomiting children, talk with behaviorists about my kiddo being bullied, find out speech therapy results, and be notified someone has hit his head (again). Most of the time the call is benignly routine, but I know enough about parenting that everything can change in the span of one conversation.

I wasn’t ready for my entire being to fall so madly in love with someone I’d just met. Instantaneously, I knew I would move mountains if needed to protect, teach, raise and nurture that fragile child. I wasn’t ready for the joy I would feel at someone else’s accomplishments. I’m talking being able to use a spoon, or master the toilet. Their steps forward are leaps for me.

We’re in the process of preparing for junior high, for my son and myself. Each new week brings with it some new reminder that my baby is a self-sufficient young person. He still needs me, but I have done my job far too well. He needs me less and less. Twelve years ago I never imagined I would need to prepare my heart, not just the nursery, for the journey it was about to set forth on.

This parenting thing encompasses much more than I, that 25-year-old first time mama knew. I wish I could hug her and tell her it’s more than lack of sleep and dirty diapers. I wish I could help her see the entire forest. I wish I would have known how endless true love can be, how much seemingly mundane things (speech problems making him hard to understand) would break my heart, how I would fail (repeatedly) but keep trying, how I would see myself in my children, how even through the rough spots, I would never change a thing.  I remember having visions of what my children might do in life, how each of them would fit into the family we were creating, but I couldn’t fathom the road we’ve been on with its hills, valleys and sharp turns. I wasn’t ready for how imperfectly perfect our story would be or how I would love it so.

Then-pregnant me didn’t grasp how belly laughs, toothless smiles, uncoordinated movements would become mental imprints on each of my children. I sat and listened to my 11-year-old talk about touring his junior high and could still see the toddler who always only wore one sock as if it was yesterday. It happens regularly with all four kiddos. I’ll struggle with taming bedhead and see the curly mop of clown hair my 9-year-old sported before his first haircut at 7-months-old. Those moments take my breath away. Their past is forever intertwined with their present for me.

I’m sentimental by nature, a softy at heart with feelings that ache easily. It has occurred to me that not everyone feels like I do. There is a chance it’s only crazy me who looks at her 5th grader and sees him at age 2. I pray I’m not. My heart has taken a beating as a mama, but I wish that on all mamas. I pray we all allow ourselves to fully embrace this role none of us was ever ready for.

I’m linking this post to:

The Purposeful Mom


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1 Comment

  • I’m only two years into motherhood and I understand (albeit on a much shorter amount of time) what you’re saying. There are things two years ago that I did not enjoy very much that I miss terribly now. May we all try to full live in the moments we are given!