Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How Much Of Parenting Is As You Expected?

There's more than one reason they refer to it
as "expecting" - but how much of being a parent
is as we expected?
I've been thinking a lot about those days just before my children were born. I realize now how little I knew of what to expect once they arrived. I really didn't have anyone who told me what being a parent would mean. I had read all the books and taken classes, but there was something missing. 

In retrospect, I think it was the emotional component. There is a part of me that thinks that, perhaps, it's impossible to tell someone else what things will be like because we all bring different stories, perceptions, strengths and weaknesses to the table.

I recently wrote a post for one of my sisters-in-law who was about to become a mom of twins. I concentrated on a lot of practical things - getting help, getting rest, not needing two of everything and so on. I touched less on the emotional aspect of things. Perhaps that's because I was not sure there was anything new I could add to what has been written about the enormity of becoming a parent. But now another sister-in-law is about to have her first baby and I can't help thinking about this time in my own life and what I wish I had heard someone say to me. So maybe this is for my sister-in-law, and maybe it is also for me. It is definitely for you, if you needed to hear this, too. 

Dear soon-to-be mama (or papa),
Our daughter at 2 weeks old

I am so excited for you. This is such an amazing time; in just a few days your life will be totally different. You will be more tired than you ever have been, you will feel more love than you can ever possibly imagine, you will feel totally incompetent one minute and on top of the world the next. It is a crazy, beautiful time. Be kind to your partner; it's especially hard for new dads as we moms get quite territorial about the new love in our life. We think we know it all and know it best and can be impatient and bossy.

Remember that much of what you are feeling after birth is hormonal and it will normalize soon. If you feel depressed, tell people. If you need help, speak up. If you want to complain and even if you want to say you are miserable, tell someone. And when you want to brag about your beautiful baby and talk about how much you adore her and show picture after picture, I hope you have a person who will listen for as long as you want to talk.


My husband and our son, 2 weeks
into the parenting process
You will learn more about yourself through becoming a parent than from any form of therapy you have ever tried. You will be pushed to the brink, you will think you have failed, you will cry and second guess yourself. Yet, you will succeed brilliantly, you will figure it out, you will be the one your child turns to in times of trouble. You will cry at commercials, and world news will never look the same to you. 


You will suddenly have a new found understanding of why recycling and reducing your carbon footprint are so important. You will learn every line to every Raffi song ever written. You will hear yourself saying things your parents said and you will also do so much that is different. You will find your own way. You will heal old wounds. You will uncover ones you didn't know you had. 

You will have days when you question how you could ever think you had the stuff it takes to be a good mom. You will have days when you can't believe the gloriousness of your life compared to what it was before. Your marriage will change. Your body will change. Hopefully you will learn how to accept both in their new form.

You will be a brilliant mom. Trust your gut, don't let people push you into doing things that don't feel right to you. There are a million "experts" out there, but you are the only expert on your child. Listen to what people suggest, throw away what doesn't resonate for you and keep the rest. Do what works for you.

I believe our babies choose us and it is through those wise little souls trusting their lives to us that we all have the opportunity to become who we are meant to be. So remember, you are exactly the parent your baby needs.


Love,
Gina
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10 Great Comments Made By Clicking Here!:

Stephanie said...

I really wish I would have found this two years ago when my twins were born. What a great post, and what a gift for new moms as it is NOT always easy and wonderful and blissful. I wish someone would have told me that you don't automatically fall in love with your child(ren) and that the attachment can take time. It is so wise to trust your gut and follow you baby's lead!

Practical Parenting said...

Beautiful post, my friend. Parenting is a mixed bag of emotions, for sure. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

heather said...

I was trying to pick out a section of this post that I liked the most or that just really resonated with me but then I realized that it all does! Every single word. Well said, my friend, well said.

The Twin Coach said...

Thank you Katie and Heather! I am so glad the post resonated with you both. It was a bit daunting to try and put it all into words....so thank you for your kind words. :)
- Gina

The Twin Coach said...

Stephanie, I think the part where parenting isn't always blissful is an aspect that no one really tells you. The other thing, that I didn't think of when I was writing this post, is that there is so much you expect your body to be able to do - give birth vaginally, breast feed, lose the baby weight etc. - that it just doesn't always do! It's important for new mothers to know those things. Thank you so much for your note. :)
- Gina

alyssa hoffman said...

All so true.... Even a year into this wonderful journey, I can be moved to tears just by looking at my kids.
My hope, fears and world has changed in ways I never imagined! Very thoughtful of you to post this.

The Levy 6 said...

Ha! Amazing post to read this morning. I'm NOT a soon-to-be-mama but these words ring true today and I'm so thankful for these reminders.

"You will have days when you question how you could ever think you had the stuff it takes to be a good mom. You will have days when you can't believe the gloriousness of your life compared to what it was before. Your marriage will change. Your body will change. Hopefully you will learn how to accept both in their new form.

You will be a brilliant mom. Trust your gut, don't let people push you into doing things that don't feel right to you. There are a million "experts" out there, but you are the only expert on your child. Listen to what people suggest, throw away what doesn't resonate for you and keep the rest. Do what works for you."

Yes, yes, yes! Things change. It's painful, glorious, odd, happy, sad, raw, joyful.... Motherhood, if you're paying attention & open to the process, is the change from caterpillar to butterfly. For me, I'm barely out of that cocoon...my wings are open but barely dry. I'm confident but lack trust in myself. I have to be reminded, really look at the beauty of my wings, & then I feel ready for flight. And the colors on my wings were painted by my Ella, Calum, Oliver & Drew.

Thanks so much for this post. Just wonderful.

--Melanie

Dora Romero said...

Nice Post

Parenting Tips said...

Parenting is a mixed bag of emotions. We can't estimate parents love that totally depend on the attachment... Great post thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Beautiful post, the truth that unfolds as one learns to parent will teach you more about yourself than one expects. The day my babies were born and the month that followed (NICU) became a learning process that I am finding continues into today in trying to be the parent I want to be. So much of this connects, thank you.

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