When we imagine having children, we have these images of ‘having a baby’. The sweet bundle all swaddled, snuggling, and sleeping peacefully in their crib whilst we gaze lovingly, and then we quietly tip-toe out of the nursery and off to our own bed.
Then reality hits. Babies cry. Diapers explode. Breasts leak. Exhaustion hits. And just when we think we’re getting the hang of it, they grow. Their abilities change. Their needs change. Their brains develop. That sweet baby turns into a defiant toddler, that turns into a messy child, who then turns into a smelly teenager (it’s just the hormones, it’ll pass).
We give our lives over to our children. Every thing we do, every decision we make, we take them into account. There is a fantastic quote by Sophia Loren, “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. You are connected to your child and to all those who touch your lives. A mother always has to think twice: once of herself and once for her child.”
Now, we could debate parenting styles but the more important point is how do you know if you’re ready to potentially live your life for that little baby? How do you know, before you have a baby?
The biggest question to ask yourselves is what is your purpose for having a baby? Some people have religious reasons, some people want to have a baby with their soul-mate, some have a baby because of simple hormones, and some just give in to partner/family/society pressure.
The bottom line is our goal as parents is to create a productive, contributing member of society. Someone to carry on the human race; to make things better for society and for the following generation. The ultimate goal as parents is to give your child all the tools they will need to become a well-balanced, thoughtful, emotionally intelligent adult. Your child will only be a child for a short number of years but they will develop into an adult and spend the majority of their lives that way.
(The idea of bringing a baby into the world is sometimes simpler when we just hold onto the idea of ‘having a baby’.)
Parenting is difficult but no one really ever understands what it means to ‘have a baby’ until it’s too late. There are lots of parents who have trouble with the demands of parenting. There are lots of children who are abused and neglected. To those of us who are parents, how many times have we thought to ourselves “what did I do?” or “I’m just not cut out to be a parent”, but somehow we power on and love our children and give them the best that we can.
There is the old analogy that people throw around about ‘you have to have a license to drive a car or catch a fish, but anyone can be a parent”. I disagree with that statement. There are no restrictions on who can have a baby, but parenting is a whole other ballgame. I do wish there was some way to have say a ‘practice baby’. One that isn’t real, but you learn how difficult parenting really is. And I don’t mean taking care of an egg or a sack of flour like they do in the old high school home ec. classes. Even those high tech dolls just don’t do a real baby justice.
There is just no good way to convey how fantastically wonderful and utterly exhausting parenting can be. It’s easy to be lazy. Being engaged and involved in your child’s life takes energy. It takes passion. It takes patience and it takes more love than you realize you were ever capable of. Of course, mistakes will be made, but there is an element of fear and excitement sort of like a rollercoaster. Are you ready?
What would you tell someone who is thinking about having a baby?