face this great, wild world with arms wide open: a parenting pep talk.
Part of the struggle of having a child (and one with such massive issues) is the pain of letting go.
But all parents go through some major lessons. I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I wish I really knew before giving birth.
If I could talk myself through it again, I would most likely say:
You have to let go of your desires, your dreams, what you envisioned, your plans. Those are all things involving self. They need to be let go. I think many of us go into parenthood blindly, assuming everything will be okay. Just because you don’t want something “bad” to happen to your baby, just because you feel like you couldn’t handle a special needs child, or a deaf child or a child that has autism or anorexia …don’t think it won’t happen. You might have to prepare your heart. Don’t take that the wrong way, and assume I’m jaded (I don’t know, maybe I am), but in one way or another your life will be drastically touched by this child. And pain will come: for some, once their wee one is born. They may face difficulties right away. Some come later, much later. Maybe it’s not a health related issue at all. Maybe it’s a mental, spiritual, or emotional issue. Maybe nothing happens and life is perfect. But, I’m pretty sure this is impossible.
I guess I just wish someone had told me about the stretching and the pain and the tears that I would shed over this little one. Not happy tears. Scared tears. I wish someone had said gently, “Just prepare yourself. Not necessarily for the worse, but be ready in your heart to let everything go to God. Get ready to face some intense struggles. Get ready to have your life flipped upside down. Get ready to see your mate in a whole new way. Throw out all your preconceived notions about motherhood and what you want it to look like.”
And then there are the little things. The small, insignificant things that we sometimes put a lot of energy into. If you want to cloth diaper, do it. If you don’t, don’t. If you do for a few months and then stop…awesome. If you want to paint your nursery and buy the newest, shiniest things for your little one, the best of the best, because hell, it’s your BABY, well, don’t worry about that stuff. It gets old fast, and in the end, if you can’t afford it, don’t bother. This is coming from me, I am a product junkie. I like to research things because I think it’s fun. I grew up going to the grocery store with my dad, just because I loved it. But, even I learned the lesson that in a few months time, you don’t care what you have. And sometimes your opinion changes, so don’t spend $800 on that thing because you might hate it anyway.
Strollers? They all suck in one way or another. Car seats? Swaddling? Sleep training? Vaccines? Figure it out as you go and do what your gut tells you. But in the end—your baby, boy or girl, “healthy” or not, is the cherished gift and they don’t give a rip about any of that stuff.
Embrace the season. Embrace it all, smush it to your face. The loss, the grief, the joy, the debt, the kitchen arguments, the midnight feeds, the mounds of laundry, the sickness. Just let it go. Just let our good God wrap you up in His arms and change you.
Everything will change. You probably will yearn for the days when it was just the two of you, man and wife, traveling the world. I often reminisce about those adventurous trips we took when we were just Jay and Michaela. I miss them. I just miss being able to take off, to drink or eat whatever, do whatever without a schedule, stay up all night because I want to.
I miss just having head space that is my own. And yet, at the same time, I love not thinking about myself.
Give yourself a big heart hug and remember, you were first a child, raised by your own mama. Lean on her, glean her wisdom. It takes time to grow up. Pay attention to friends around you that have similar parenting styles. Pay attention to friends that have different parenting styles, and learn from them all. Ask questions, be humble, prepare to have your heart broken wide open. Embrace it all.
God is good, in grief and torment. He is good in the sunshine and with a full belly.
Photo courtesy of Apple Blossom Families.
God is always good, no matter what. He never changes. Take this into your heart, claim it’s truth and face this great, wild world with arms wide open.