Years ago at a Mothers’ group, I heard this true story. It impressed me as a great description of parenting.
A woman told how she and her partner adopted a child. They flew across the world, went to a hotel and gathered, with other adoptive parents, in a downstairs ballroom that was “full of babies”. Each child was swaddled in an embroidered silk wrap like an elegant package. Each couple stepped in and was handed a baby. Here is your girl. Here is your boy. There was no time to see each baby and make a choice. Here is your girl. Here is your boy.
Actually, for children you adopt or conceive, there’s never any interview. “How late do you sleep? Are you a morning person? Can you be patient with your brothers?” Your children don’t interview you, either.
This curt introduction surprised them, yet they were excited and brought their new ‘bundle’ upstairs. They unwrapped the swaddling and noticed she had red, scaly eczema all over her body and poor muscle tone. “Oh no, she’s not well” they thought, “What are we going to do?”
In that moment this woman realized that being a parent means you are the one who is going to stand up for this child who needs you. A parent is the child’s most important believer, advocate and backer. You and your child are in this for the long haul together.
This couple learned their daughter’s rhythms, sounds and preferences, what worked, what didn’t. They researched allergies and nutrition, asked questions, visited doctors and local playgrounds. It was sometimes rocky, sometimes good. Months later we saw a photo of their rosy-cheeked two year old gleefully throwing spaghetti from her high chair.
Becoming a parent isn’t usually what you expect, certainly not what you see in the ads! Whether your child has health issues or not, is a ‘colicky’ baby, night owl, finicky eater….ask questions, get support, figure what works for your family. As you and your child get to know each other, you are learning on many levels. It’s invaluable information that will last you a lifetime.
For those times when you are overwhelmed, you can always call the Parental Stress Hotline.
1-800-632-8188 to get some perspective and/or some advice.