Parenthood is an endless exercise in letting go. It’s incremental, but steadfast and relentless. The first thing you must let go of is every preconceived notion you ever had. Second to go is your life as you ever knew it. And, finally, comes the remainder of your days when you must let go, little by little, of your very babies, who you’ll want to hold onto more than anything.
There is no better parent in the world than an adult who has no children. He/she knows everything, all of which learned by observing the countless errors of every parent in his/her path. Having a baby of one’s own is to go from knowing everything to slowly realizing you know nothing. This does not happen all at once. Not at all.
I’m not pregnant yet? You mean there’s more to it than just doing it? Small thing. Lesson learned. I now know everything.
Finally, we’re pregnant! There is really no excuse for gaining 60 pounds just to birth a 7 pound baby. 15 pounds is completely attainable with just a little bit of discipline. I’ll just eat right and exercise. Just 300 extra calories for baby.
What sick motherfucker called this morning sickness when it’s actually every-time-I-move-sickness? Ugh. Well, at least now I know everything. Hmm, I seem to barf at the thought of any food other than bagels. OK, so I’ll eat a couple of bagels for the first couple of weeks, and then when my all-freaking-day sickness has passed I’ll return to a healthy diet. Now, back to those parenting books!
Holy crap Cinnamon Toast Crunch is like heaven on Earth! I’ll totally have that spinach salad for dinner.
I actually cannot lift my arms or keep my eyes open. Must have food that requires no waiting or working. Like this sleeve of Girl Scout cookies. Then the gym!
Putting on my gym clothes was exhausting. A little nap and then the gym. Oh, shit. It’s tomorrow.
At least I can be sure of the “9 months on, 9 months off” rule. And, truly, I’m sure I can manage it in 4 months, what with breastfeeding and a bit of exercise and restraint.
We stubbornly hold onto the idea that we still know it all, despite every piece of evidence to the contrary. Incredibly, our faith in our parenting superiority outlasts our ditched birth plans, breastfeeding surprises (nipples can crack?!), babies who didn’t read the sleep manual, and those finally-donated old jeans. Despite all the floundering in those early weeks and months, we still sit in judgement of parents whose 2-year-olds shove, whose 4-year-olds whine, whose 6-year-olds run through the playground at breakneck speeds dangerously close to our precious toddling snowflake.
One day, we parents finally come to the uncomfortable realization that we don’t know a thing. We let go. This tends to happen right around the same time as our children let go of us. They can now stand away from us, and sometimes prefer to. They go to school. They have a life that we are not directly orchestrating or even entirely involved with.
What the hell is this? Haven’t I let go of enough? I let go of my life, my body, my sureness of my own abilities and knowhow. But now I need to let go of my babies? No. No effing way.
But we must. We must let them wander, climb, make friends with people other than our friends’ kids. We must endure their heartache; watch their awkward moments; let them make mistakes; let them take risks. Holy hell- let them go to boy/girl parties; let them go to dances with dates; let them drive! *Author hyperventilates*
All I want to do is hold on. As much as I love seeing them grow up, I just want them to freaking stop it already. All these long legs, newfound slang, attitudes, and pop culture can suck it. Just stay here- in my arms- for a moment longer.
I know enough to know that I don’t know much, but I know this: the future holds more and more and more letting go. I’m not ready. Are you?