I held a steady poker face to cover the horror that gripped my heart as I listened to the words that my curious fifth grader had overheard at school.
Uhhh… Wow… Ummm…
I did the best I could to answer his questions, explain why such a word can cause so much hurt, and warn why it would never be acceptable to use it.
Later I wrapped my arms around my little man-in-training, and felt him return my goodnight hug.
“Thank you for talking to me, Mom. I love you.”
I ruffled his hair and sent him to bed before I collapsed back on the couch, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I had reassured him that he could always come to me with his questions, but I was silently cursing the parenting books that I’d read cover-to-cover twelve years ago as I prepared to become a mother. They never mentioned anything like this.
Sure, everyone knows that the first year is going to be rough, and that the terrible twos can get dicey, but no one tells you that parenting just keeps getting harder and harder with each passing birthday party. I’m no longer worried that my little guys will put something in their mouths, stick a chubby little finger into an outlet, or tumble down the stairs. Now I get to worry about swear words, girls, peer pressure, social media, and Middle School.
Makes me wish we could go back to when my boys were little and I spent my days just trying to keep them from killing themselves!
A dear friend recently gave me a copy of Lisa-Jo Baker’s touching story, Surprised by Motherhood. As I read each chapter her words took me back to those early days of being a mommy, and I started to remember a few surprising things that the What to Expect books left out…
Bad dreams, croupy coughs, stubborn fevers, sleepwalking, and burning the midnight oil while you make four dozen school treats all get in the way of sleeping through the night.
I love my boys more than life itself, but sometimes I want to eat the last cookie. I’m definitely not a morning person. And I’d rather have a root canal than listen to them explain anything Minecraft.
Speaking of cookies, and food in general, be prepared for them to eat it all like a plague of locusts devouring everything in sight. I just realized that in a few short years, we will have THREE teenage boys in our house. Hold me.
If this one doesn’t put the fear of God in you, nothing will. Looking into their eyes while you explain the science of how babies are made is not for the faint of heart. Your breathing will become rapid and shallow, you will experience dizziness, there will be profuse sweating, and you will speak higher and faster than normal, but try your hardest to postpone your panic attack until after the big talk.
I had mistakenly thought that I was prepared for life as a mom. All of those years ago I read up on how to properly care for my baby. I studied swaddling diagrams. I weighed the pros and cons of crying it out vs. nursing on demand. I was a parenting expert before I had kids… And then I became a mother and realized that I didn’t know anything.
Those darn What to Expect books forgot to mention several other important things as well…
Experiencing the world through the eyes of your child is an incredible gift. You get to discover dandelions and ladybugs and puppies and rainbows all over again. The world is such a magical place, if we will only pause long enough to see its beauty again for the first time through their wondering eyes.
Having a child is like ripping your heart out of your chest and sending it out alone into the world. Their joy is your joy. Their hurts are your hurts. You will want to shield them forever from the pain, injustice, and darkness of this life – but what they really need is for you to take their little hands and guide them through it.
The amount of love that you will feel for the precious gifts who are entrusted to you is undefinable, unmeasurable, and infinitely beyond what you had ever imagined.
I wasn’t prepared for this. I wish the books had warned me. But then again, I wouldn’t trade this adventure, and even the surprises along the way, for anything in the world.
And the day was going so well... I'm wondering if you would mind helping me with something today? ...