When people tell me they are pregnant, out loud I say, “Oh, how exciting! Congratulations!”
But really what I’m thinking is, “I’m so sorry.”
Not because I think that being a parent is a terrible thing. I just know that a lot of people are in for some rude awakenings. I don’t care how much you think you know about being a parent, or how many dogs you’ve had, or how many kids you babysat growing up, or how many nieces and nephews you have, or how many much younger siblings you have, you won’t know what it’s really like being a parent until, well, you’re a parent.
After giving birth to your first baby, you head home in a surreal state. Are they really letting you walk out of the hospital with this tiny person with no assurances that you know what you’re doing? Shouldn’t there be some required coursework or something? Maybe a certification? A test that you need to pass? Or at least a background check?
And once you are home with the baby, it finally sinks in. You are going to be a parent for the rest of your life. You will feel this crushing responsibility for this person forever. And that’s really scary. After all, part of you still feels like you’re a kid, just trapped in an adult’s body.
Then you realize that it would have been really helpful if the baby came with a manual or something. Because being a parent is hard. Really hard. It’s by far the hardest job I’ve ever had. Newborn babies require care around the clock. They don’t care that it’s 2 in the morning and you have already gotten up twice to feed them that night. They don’t care that you are exhausted every single day. And they really don’t care if you’re sick. Being sick is for people without kids in the house. You’re a parent and you don’t get to be sick.
And as that little baby grows up, they test your patience in ways you never thought were possible. I always assumed I would be able to cope with anything. I’m an analytic thinker, what problems could a child possibly give me that I couldn’t solve? Well, it turns out, a lot. Parenting has given me some of the lowest points of my life.
But, I’ve also never experienced such highs.
There is so much to love about being a parent. The fact that your child loves you and wants to spend time with you over every single other person in the world. Given a choice, they always pick you.
That you get to help this person turn into who they are going to be, and you get to experience it along the way! You’ll feel proud of every single thing they do, as if you are directly responsible for each accomplishment. And each thing they do will feel amazing, as if your kid was the first to learn how to walk, get a tooth, or jump, or write their name.
You shift from everything being about you, to things being about your child. And you realize that you don’t resent that you spend more money on them than you do on yourself.
And each night as you give a sigh of relief that they are finally in bed and your job for the day has ended, you watch them sleep and your heart breaks a little with the intensity of your love for them.
So, welcome to parenthood. You’ll love it. It sucks.