When I found out I was pregnant, oh those many years ago, my first reaction was shock. The universe actually thought I could be a mom. The term “ill-prepared” was an understatement. Shockingly, there isn’t a class that prepares you for this. You can take a cooking class, driving class, scuba class but there really isn’t one that can teach all one needs to know about parenting. The phrase I heard often “I learned a lot on my first child”. All I could think was my poor older sister got the brunt of our parent’s lack of knowledge. It’s what one might call “on the job training”.
Shock soon gave way to excitement and each day I felt her grow. I could have done without all the heavy kicking, but hopefully that meant she would be knocking down doors and making her way in the world. I have a firm belief that the easiest way to be pregnant is through ignorance. I hadn’t a clue what was supposed to happen. My doctor gave me the best advice ever given to a pregnant woman. “Don’t’ listen to anyone else’s advice”. Point taken, Doctor. I never got sick. Were you supposed to? I didn’t stop working out. I ate healthy and didn’t have any crazy cravings…except for rice but hey, that’s in my blood. I don’t want to anger any women with exceptional labor stories but mine was a breeze. It should only take a couple of hours, right? Again, thank God for ignorance.
That easy breeze I felt dissipated as soon as this small human entered the world. What to do now? All you need is love. NO, you need diapers and a crib and a car seat and wait there’s immunizations and ear infections and an incomplete never ending list. Once the nurses came to help me gather my things to leave the hospital, I realized they were allowing me to take the baby home. Really? So soon? I’m not sure they understood that I KNEW NOTHING. They did their best with the mothering pats and reassuring words, but underneath I could see the laughter of “she has no idea”. And they were right.
The tradition after giving birth is that your mother comes to stay with you the first two weeks. That tradition is not only needed, but also gives your mother the chance to see a little pay back for the trouble you caused. My mother kept the tradition and came to help. One day as we were watching my daughter, because that’s what you do for entertainment once you have a newborn, my daughter created a “present” in her diaper for the 5th time in a short period. I started to change her and began to cry. What’s wrong, asked my mother. I stammered and tried to form a complete sentence which is difficult when you are sleep deprived with a newborn. “It’s just that I’ve changed her A LOT and she keeps doing it. I’m so tired. And I’m tired of changing diapers.” I’m not certain but I could almost swear there was a smile on my mother’s face as she took over diapering duties.
Fast forward almost 18 years and my daughter and I seem to be managing. Gone are the days when she needs me for absolutely everything. I keep trying.
- “Can I make you something to eat” No, Mom.
- “Do you want me to drive you to school” No, Mom.
- “Do you need help filling out that application” No, Mom.
Those are times I have to resign myself to the fact that I’m not needed as much and I’ve created this independent woman. So the other night, backing away and letting her make her own dinner, I took a much needed break and sat down to read. Out of the blue my daughter walks in, hands me a cup of my favorite tea, kisses my forehead and goes back to preparing her meal. My how times have changed.