A couple of days ago, I was whisked away for a lunch date with a good friend.
Over sandwiches and soup, the topic of having kids came up and she said, “I just don’t think I am equipped to parent.”
I said, “You’re not.”
She seemed a bit surprised by my honest answer and so luckily she let me explain. I probably sounded like a jerk.
I don’t think anyone is especially “equipped” to parent. We all decide to have children thinking that we are somehow going to be able to manage. We had loads of siblings. We babysat a lot. We have already judged every parent within a quarter-mile. We know our stuff.
We have an arsenal of “If my child did this, I would…” We know what classes they will take, what college they will attend and what religion they will choose. The course is mapped.
Then a baby is coming. Parenting books are purchased. More parenting books are purchased. We realize this parenting game is not as simple as we originally thought but still manageable.
I am speaking for myself here but at about 8 months of pregnancy, I realized the baby was going to have to come out. Pain was involved and it was too late to go back. Shoot.
The day comes. The baby is born and is laid on your chest warm.
Now you know.
Now you know without a doubt that you are not equipped to handle parenting.
You have had the delusion of control for 9 months. Jr. was connected to your every move, breath and calories. All of the sudden, you cannot protect, feed them properly or understand what the hell they want.
You are not equipped.
Add to that two more children that are as individual as the first and completely different from each other and yourself.
Parenting is … hard. It is no joke and if you decide to become a parent it should not be because you are equipped.
If you decide to become a parent by birth, adoption or otherwise you need to know that it is daily on the job training. Every day you learn, listen and love. Your ability to be open to those lessons is what will build your repertoire. It is what will whisper to your children without words that you are not quitting. You are not equipped but you are so deeply in love that you could never leave, even if you wanted to.
She must have seen the crazed, battle weary look in my eyes. I hope she also saw my love.