For Chip: He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion. —Unknown

Monday, October 20, 2014

Parenting: A Dress Rehearsal

Having the first child was a new and challenging experience.  I had a degree, experienced various jobs, had a supportive family, but was not prepared.  What was going to happen next?  You hope for smooth sailing, but the initial contact with your first child is a bit scary. After all, we did not know each other.  All the parenting books made the womb seem like a fairy tale, but the truth is you are about to meet someone new.  You hope he will be like your favorite relative, but what if he has the temperament of some long lost cousin that you want to forget. You realize that you are creating a little being that depends on you for every need, and that you will love unconditionally in an amazing way. 

A first child sometimes makes the parents a little possessive, and sharing their sweet baby is not always accepted.  After many sleepless nights, a lot of practice brings the end to the baby honeymoon.  The second child arrives and it is a bit more comfortable, but a little more complicated because there are two.  Suddenly, the third child arrives and it is overwhelming.  Taking care of everyone’s needs is a chore.  Reality sets in and you realize that every child is different.  One has your mother’s tiny ears and another has your mother’s family’s nose.  The personalities are so varied that you cannot believe these children came out of your body.  One child is at peace, and the other is like a raging volcano.  One is like an accomplished carpenter and can fix anything.  Where did that come from?   Is it not strange the bodies and temperaments are so diverse?  They could just as well have been from a sperm donor.  These children have no resemblance to me or their father.  The only thing I was sure about is that I saw them being born. 

Unfortunately, my children were after the hippie era.  Trending in the 1980s: No drugs allowed for childbirth.  It was kind of ironic that everyone had been smoking weed and there was a trend to deliver babies drug free.  The recipe for delivery was the Lamaze method. Losing concentration during a contraction resulted in horrendous pain.  There would be no parties and relatives in the delivery room.  In the middle of a monumental contraction my mother walked into the delivery room with sunglasses.  This was not a good time for visitors, including my mom.  She never got near the birthing area.  She still referred to childbirth as “getting a baby” or the stork.  It must have been a real adjustment for her to think that there was more involved in giving birth.  Staying on task with the breathing technique was more difficult with other mom’s screaming and cursing nearby.

Now that three children are adults I look back at some of the things that I did as a mom.   Some events were pretty awesome.  However, I remember certain incidents that I did not make the best decisions and they are haunting.  We cannot predict how things will turn out.   Overall, if I had everything to do over again, I would probably do the same thing.  Parenting is a learning experience.  Everything is based on trial and error.  We all try for the best result, and the experience could be compared to a “dress rehearsal”.  You stage yourself to be ready, but there is more to learn about a newborn than baby furniture and cute clothes. Parenting is a gift of love that keeps on giving for the rest of your life.