When you are child free, people love to tell you how great your life is because you have no one depending on you. It was the hardest thing for me to hear during infertility treatments. Yes, I have more free time than you do, but how can I possibly explain to you this gaping hole in my heart and in my life?
Now that we have a little one on the way, smug parents love to tell me how much my life is going to change. I usually smile and say “We’ve been ready for a change for a long time!”
I feel that people are setting me up for parenthood to be a complete nightmare. Based on the [100% unsolicited] feedback I’ve received, here are my expectations for the next five years: Complete and total hell. No sleep, no money, no time. Nearly constant stress. Fighting with my husband, struggling with breastfeeding, scraping to pay the bills.
And it will all start over when we start trying for number two.
But I guess I always kind of knew that’s what I was getting myself into, trying to get pregnant. I never wanted it to be easy. I wanted it to be real.
Recently, I asked my husband what he is most looking forward to about being a dad. He has all of these activities planned. “I want to do science experiments with him, help him with his homework, teach him how to tie his shoes.” These are all things you sit down and do. You look at the clock, think “We have an hour before bedtime” and say “Son, come here, let’s do ‘x’ together.”
The things I ache for about motherhood are not like this. The things that will make all of the hard work worth it for me will be spontaneous, could occur during any time of day or night, and I have to be in the moment, ready and willing to recognize them when they come.
- Reaching into the crib and seeing him smile when he recognizes me.
- When he’s crying and my touch can soothe him.
- When he hurts himself and runs to me for comfort.
- The first time we read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” together, and he touches the holes in the book with his tiny finger.
- Watching him when he doesn’t know I’m watching him.
- The first time I come into his room and he’s standing up in his crib
- When someone new is holding him, and he reaches his arms out for me, instead.
- Leaving out cookies for Santa.
- Discovering a bit of myself in his personality.
- Seeing pride in his face as he shows me something he made, created, or built.
- Realizing, as I catch my breath, how much he’s growing up.
- Watching his reaction as he meets his new brother or sister for the first time.
- Watching him fall in love.
- His face on his wedding day.
I don’t expect parenthood to be easy. I don’t expect it to be fun. I hope for one rewarding moment at a time in the midst of all the hard work and stress.
I know that he can give that to me.