Getting ready, being ready, baby ready
She is going to have a baby. The little pink bundle we carried home from the hospital but a blink ago is soon going to be a mother herself. My baby girl is having a baby girl.
It seems too good to be true – and scarier than heck, all at the same time. I’m the one who’s scared, not her. Well maybe she’s just a little bit scared.
But on top of that she’s excited and anticipatory and joyful and delighted and eager and jubilant and grateful and elated and literally breathless. She is counting days and Braxton Hicks contractions. She and her husband have assembled the crib, researched car seats and folded onesies. They have done all the things they can do to prepare. They are ready.
But I’m not sure that’s ever true. I’m not sure one can ever really be ready.
I thought I was ready. My husband thought he was ready. We told each other we were ready. And then we had a baby and experienced the reality of it: there is no such thing as ready.
But that’s okay. Because parenthood teaches many lessons. One is that ready is definitely overrated. (As are sleep, money, a clean house and bathroom privacy – but I digress.)
My daughter and her husband will soon experience a major life change. They know this. But they don’t understand what it means. No one can.
When you have a baby, your life is forever altered in ways you couldn’t have anticipated. You – as an individual – will never, ever be the same again. It would be impossible to go back to being the old you once a piece of your heart belongs to another human being.
Because that is what being a parent is like. It is like having a piece of your heart living and breathing outside your own body – separate from you, but inexplicably a part of you. Once you are a parent you are never just you again, you are more than you – greater than you. It is a blessing beyond compare. And it can be scarier than hell – loving another being so thoroughly, so unconditionally, so enduringly, so passionately, so innately.
All love creates vulnerability within us. A parent’s love for a child creates vulnerability on steroids capped off with a sugar high and caffeine buzz. It is vulnerability multiplied by a thousand, maybe more, depending on the day or number of middle-of-thenight feedings within a sixhour timespan.
And here’s the extraordinary truth of it all: we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The vulnerability brought on when one becomes a parent brings with it some awesome perks. It creates patience and fosters unselfishness. It develops our own inner confidence and calmness. It turns boys into fathers and girls into mothers. It builds a partnership like no other with our significant other. It helps us understand the miraculous nature of love and how vast love can grow to be.
My daughter is about to become a mother. She may not be ready in the sense we commonly think of the word, but she is ready to love. Heck, she already does. And that, truly, is what really matters.
For my part, I’m about to partake in a new role of life. They say the only thing better than becoming a parent is becoming a grandparent. I can’t wait to find out. I actually think I might be ready.
I’ll keep you posted.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.