In the spirit of #honestmotherhood I'm going to go ahead and put this out into the blogiverse even though it's not directly feline-centric. As most of you know, not only am I Meowmy to an amazing group of lovable Ragdolls, but in just a few short weeks I'll be adding "Mommy" to my list of personas. Our little guy is due in less than three weeks, and let me tell ya, the enormity of that life-changing thing is not lost on me.
Can I just say this? Whenever anyone asks "Are ya ready?? *wink wink*" in reference to the impending arrival of a small human who will be completely dependent on me and my husband for nourishment and love, I can do nothing but stare at them blankly. In my head, I'm wondering "Is anyone ever really READY to become a parent?" Perhaps there are those who may feel more prepared than others...those who had younger siblings (not me! Only child. not Cat Daddy, he was the youngest.) ooor those who have babysitting experiece (also not me, I've never been solely responsible for the survival of a tiny human or a child for any length of time)... But even these folks who have some sort of real experience, can't be fully prepared for allll the craziness that parenting entails, can they? Being on the front lines with your partner and nobody else to back you up or make the hard decisions for you...well I think that's something one can only learn in the moment. Even folks who are second or third time parents, are always going to have days where life feels like a curveball and they wonder if anyone else notices that they're failing at parenting because "oh my word I feel like I'm failing!" (Even though from the outside folks are probably pretty stinkin impressed and don't think they're failing at all.)
I was thinking about an experience I had some years back while visiting a girlfriend who had a new baby. Her spunky, beautiful daughter is now 7, but at the time she was only about 8 weeks old. I remember my friend inviting me to "help" wash the baby, and feeling very inadequate watching her go through her established routine, totally calm and confident. I remember being extremely impressed that she just seemed to know what to do, whereas I was too scared to even touch the baby for fear of breaking her or making her cry. I stood by and watched and thought, how does she do it? Will I ever be that kind of mom? I had my doubts at the time. Later she expressed to me that she had always wanted to be a mom, ever since she was a little girl with a doll. She babysat and practiced and when she finally became a mother, she felt complete. (That is definitely not the case with me...I was the little girl who had zero interest in dolls and would only play with stuffed animals!) However, she recently went on to say that even though being a mom was what she had always wanted, there were and are still plenty of moments where things do not go as planned, something she thought should work with her kids just 'doesn't', and times that she wonders if she's doing it right. Knowing that even the most prepared natural mommy-type person I know still has those moments, was pretty reassuring. Like, everybody has to learn, somehow. As in, it's okay if the answers to every given situation with your kids don't just spontaneously pop into your head and then have the perfect outcome. As in, even if you feel like you're failing, you're probably not because you're trying at least! As in, YOU are the best parent for YOUR kid, which is really what matters in the end.
Thinking about these things reassures me as the big day approaches. I have never had a fear of birth, but the thought of the midwife leaving a few hours later and suddenly Cowboy and I being solely responsible for the survival of this new life that we've created...well that thought just terrifies me. I try to remember that just like the first year of marriage required a lot of adjustments, getting to know one another, and establishing routines....same thing with becoming a family of three. The big picture is that the newborn stage will fly by quickly (in a sleep-deprived haze of exhaustion, or so I've been told) but at some point we'll wake up and think, "Hey look! We have a kid! We're doing this parenting thing, any which way we can, and it's turning out okay."
Until then, I think I'll just focus on my kittens... at least that's a familiar routine :-)
What kind of advice would you give a first-time parent?
What, to you, was the scariest part of becoming a parent?
What was the most surprising thing you learned with your first child?