“I’m so excited for you!”
“I can’t wait to meet her!”
“I can’t wait to hold that bundle of joy!”
I am incredibly, immeasurably blessed by the number of people I have in my life who are genuinely overjoyed at the impending birth of my first child. I can’t even put into words what it does to my heart when I look at the list of people who want to be notified the absolute second I go into labor. It is endearing. It is humbling.
That being said, what happens when everyone is ready for your baby to make her grand appearance, except you (and your spouse)? I’m the kind of person who gets overwhelmed (and then, admittedly, fairly angry) when I hear the same excited sentiment over and over. I do not get angry with the sentiment-expressers; that would be rude. But my poor husband gets the earful.
“I know they’re excited, but it’s overwhelming me.” and “I just want to enjoy these last few days of quiet and quality time with you; why don’t they get that?!” Trust me when I say, I whine when I say these things.
I don’t love my people any less for how much they love me and how much excitement they share over my life change-to-be. In fact, I much prefer they speak excitement and life over me rather than the negativity pregnancy/early parenthood seems to draw from strangers and many young moms. But, it can still be overwhelming and it can still make a first-time mom feel like she’s not ready or excited, because she’s not nearly as full-to-the-brim with giddiness and giggles as her friends are when discussing the birth of her first born.
Now, one reason is because she’s yet to go through the birthing process. To get this joy everyone speaks of, the first-time mom must pass the birthing process, which she’s been hearing for the previous 9 months is a miserable, excruciating, stupid-long process that hurts for weeks afterwards. (And, word to the wise, telling her, “But you’ll forget all about that once you hold your sweetie in your arms,” does not count as a disclaimer).
But another reason the first-time mom feels like everyone else is ready for her first child except for her, is because, well, it’s true. The first-time mom has no barometer. She’s seen the joys and struggles of others, but she hasn’t experienced them herself. She might like the unknown of an adventure, but this unknown lasts for quite a while. The first-time mom has absolutely no clue what’s coming, and she’s been hearing conflicting accounts of her next 18+ years. She’s heard all the cliches, she’s heard so many heartaches, she’s heard so many cute stories. She’s seen all the sweet newborn pics on Facebook of her friends’ kids; they’re always sleeping, smiling, dressed adorably, and just look like perfect little angels. But she’s heard the stories of diapers exploding, and heart-wrenching, blood-curdling cries during the colic season. How can she be ready when she has no idea what to be ready for?
The most important thing the first-time mom can do in this season of uncertainty is to know this: it’s totally okay not to feel ready. Feeling 100% ready would be a serious case of Fooling Ourselves. Everything everyone has told us, is probably true. Which means that we’re about to embark on an up-and-down journey of a lifetime, one that we will cherish and regret and love and hate, maybe within the same 30-second span. There is no perfect parent. There is no perfect child. We are imperfect parents raising imperfect children. And I think if we, first-time moms, can remember this before our child arrives, we’ll have somewhat of a chance of not going completely bananas during our child’s 1st year of life.
Now, am I prepared for everything I’ve just written to be challenged in the coming days? Absolutely. As said in Cheaper By the Dozen, “When we started we had a whole set of parenting theories. Now we have none.” But, am I willing to go into this thing with an open mind, expecting some crazy twists and turns along the way? Yes.
So, here we go, first-time moms! If you don’t feel ready, join the club! If you do feel ready, more power to ya (and pass it along to the rest of us)!