When it comes to parenting, there may be nothing more painful than child-birth.
Actually, that’s not true.
Not long after feeling fully recovered from delivering my son, I realized something slightly disturbing: labor and delivery might just be the easiest part of parenting.
That first year felt like both the longest year in the history of everything…and also the quickest.
Adjusting to breast-feeding, lack of sleep, dealing with a sick infant for the very first time, bumps on his head when he became mobile, guilt for not enjoying every moment…
I felt both lonely and overwhelmed, which I never thought was possible.
Sometimes, when I tried to verbalize those feelings, I would get these three words in return, words no new parent wants to hear:
JUST YOU WAIT.
Just you wait until he’s walking.
Just you wait until he’s RUNNING.
Just you wait until he can talk.
Just you wait until he sasses you for the first time.
Just you wait until he’s a preteen.
Just you wait until he’s a teenager, and he’s driving.
Just. you. wait.
I dreaded those words. As if I wasn’t already frightened enough. As if I wasn’t already completely overwhelmed just by looking at my brand new baby, swaddled up in and nestled my arms, worrying that I was already getting everything wrong.
I was already terrified that I might drop the baby. Or drive to town and forget the baby. Or even misplace the baby (I came close one night, when I awoke startling thinking that I had left him in bed with me. It turned out that I had put him back in his bassinet, and was so tired that didn’t even remember.)
I thought I was too selfish to be a mother. I loved my child, but I just never knew how it was going to be possible to enjoy parenting when it felt like I was being put through the ringer almost every day.
Then to hear on top of it all that it only seemingly gets worse??
I wanted to throw in the towel, hand over the reigns and move out of the country, only to return and be reunited with my boy when he turned 18.
Nobody told me everything about motherhood.
That you can’t go number two without an audience. That you’ll have stretches that go on for days where you are covered in the bodily fluid(S) of another person. You’ll have days where you kick the bottom of the fridge because your patience is completely exhausted, and you feel hopeless, and also because you just argued with a three-year old about….you can’t even remember by that point.
No one told me everything about motherhood and about being a first time parent. No one told me how lonely I might feel. Nobody told me about all of the new fears that creep into the static of your mind while your head is laying on your pillow at night.
No one told me how many surprises there are in raising children.
Now, I’m here to tell parents who are up to their elbows in this chaotic season of life that I was in just several years back what they can expect.
Just you wait, first time parents.
Just you wait until it gets really good.
Just you wait until your infant who sleeps all day opens their eyes all of a sudden, and recognizes you for the first time.
Just you wait until the first time your infant reaches out and touches your face lovingly.
Just you wait until they finally smile at you, and not just because they’re passing gas.
Just you wait until you hear them belly laugh for the first time.
Just you wait until they get to be so cute that you can hardly stand it.
Just you wait until your child takes their first steps across the kitchen floor toward you with a smile and peanut butter and jelly smeared across their face.
Just you wait until your child can feed themselves oatmeal while you are able to just sit back and watch for the very first time.
Just you wait until you catch them singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” over the baby monitor.
Just you wait until the first time they run to you, squealing with delight, after you’ve been gone all day, and they are utterly overjoyed to see you.
Just you wait until they finally discover their belly button.
Just you wait until the first time you see them shake their bottom, wiggle and dance and clap their hands.
Just you wait until you see them put on a pair of sunglasses for the first time.
Just you wait until they give you a thumbs up for the first time.
Just you wait until the first time they sleep through the night (or even just a few solid hours at a time. It’s the little things.)
Just you wait until they smash their birthday cake in their hands and all over their face, and the mess doesn’t bother you in the slightest.
Just you wait until they can say “momma” or “daddy.”
Just you wait until they color you a picture for the first time.
Just you wait until they can go down the slide at the park all by themselves.
Just you wait until bed head.
Just you wait until you catch them playing all on their own for the first time ever, and you can actually sit and read a magazine for ten whole minutes.
Just you wait until they start giving you hugs and kisses, just because they want to.
Just you wait until you seem them coming down the stairs in their pajamas on Christmas morning, and it’s game on!
Just you wait until they start talking in sentences, and are able to answer your questions.
Just you wait until they start asking you questions (why are there clouds? Are hot dogs really dogs?)
Just you wait until they tell you what they want to be when they grow up (a doctor, a dentist, a Marine, a Meteorologist, Luke Skywalker…)
Just you wait until they make friends.
Just you wait until they can walk up to a neighbor’s door, knock and say, “Trick or Treat!!” all by themselves.
Just you wait until they make you tie their blanket around their neck so they can pretend to be a super hero.
Just you wait until they start signing your Mother or Father’s Day cards and birthday cards.
Just you wait until they say the blessing over dinner all by themselves at the table.
Just you wait until they smell like suntan lotion, and their skin is slightly pink, and they fall asleep on your couch on a hot, summer evening while watching a movie.
Just you wait until you fall absolutely in love with them. Just you wait until they fall in love with you. Just you wait until you hold and comfort them for the first time when their heart is broken, and in that moment, something is forged between the two of you that wasn’t there before.
Just you wait until you tell them for the first time that it’s okay to feel exactly how they feel, and they are thankful that you understand them.
Just you wait until they’re legitimately mad at you for the first time, but then they finally realize that you only have their best interest at heart, and the actually believe you when you say that.
Just you wait until you see these years ticking by like a line of dominos, and you drink it up because you can’t get enough.