I was talking with a friend who is kind of irritated with the fact that she has to make the drive out to camp every day this week so her child can come to day camp. It’s inconvenient, it’s out of the way, and it’s a little (or maybe even a lot) frustrating, but… she’s doing it. Because she loves her kid. Her daughter is worth the personal inconvenience.
It made me think of all the things we don’t realize we’re signing up for at the beginning when we first conceive a baby. Every time I got pregnant, I really, REALLY wanted a baby. I couldn’t wait to hold my baby, meet all its needs, love and be loved by him or her. I was excited about cuddles and first smiles; little boo-boos that can be fixed with a kiss; the funny mispronunciations of 3-year-olds. Sure, I had vague dreams for my child’s distant future, but it took awhile for that part to feel real. At the beginning I just wanted to focus on the sweetness.
But the natural consequences of creating a baby are intense. And they’re ours. We can’t pass them off on anyone else, because… We signed up for this.
For toddlers who only seem to know one word: “Why?”
For preschoolers who never stop talking.
For teenage silence that stretches on and on – when all we want is to hear what’s going on inside their heads.
For little girls who decide the perfect moment for a loving heart-to-heart talk is late at night when mama’s tired and grouchy and wants to run away from home.
For an iron-hard, stubborn refusal to do the simplest of tasks – like, “Put your dirty clothes in the hamper.”
For feeding them. Every. Single. Day. And cleaning up their messes time after neverending time. And eventually, teaching them to feed and clean up after themselves and other people.
For ADD, dyslexia, autism, cystic fibrosis, allergies and whatever else the gene pool lottery throws our way.
For teenagers who rebel; drive carelessly, break all the rules.
For irrational fear that keeps us awake nights as we worry about our children drowning – or being abducted – or becoming the victim of a freak accident.
For long drives to camp. Or governor’s school. Or college orientation. Or a hundred thousand trips for school sports.
For educating them. Whether we’re doing it ourselves at home, or packing lunches and getting them to school every day, ultimately we’re the ones responsible for getting knowledge inside our kids’ heads.
For countless trips to the doctor, dentist, orthodontist, eye doctor, allergist, hospital, and… the dreaded emergency room.
For helping them deal with their own struggles – being bullied, or hurt by friends, or feeling ugly or fat or unloved or just not good enough.
For helping them figure out when they’re supposed to try to meet other people’s expectations, and when they’re supposed to forget about what other people think.
For making each of our children feel significant, valuable and completely loved just the way they are.
I guess it’s normal – this feeling of frustration that we have to go out of our way to do things for our kids. What parent hasn’t felt that? Parenting is inconvenient, but it’s the best kind of inconvenient. This is what I remind myself on the long days, the hard days, when I really just feel like complaining and letting all parenting responsibilities fall to the wayside: I wanted a baby; I signed up for this.