When you have a baby there are endless amounts of advice, tips, suggestions and "how to's" given freely by anyone and everyone. Even strangers. You're instructed on all things parental from how to diaper your baby to when to potty train to how to love but not spoil your child. Most of this will be useless information but is well intended so you smile, nod accordingly and thank them for the guidance all the while knowing you'll never need that homemade remedy for all that ails your baby.
When you become a parent you already know that this will be the hardest thing you ever embark on. This will be your toughest job, longest journey and most difficult experience you will ever willingly take part in. But it will also be the most precious, most rewarding and joy-filled time of your entire existence.
But they forget the disclaimers. There is no fine print alerting you to what lies ahead. There are no quiet whispers of warning. No one tells you......the hardest part....the REAL work.....will come when your babies are grown ups.
You see-we all operate under the delusion that we have a baby and for the next 18 years we are parents. We are expected to love, nurture, teach, guide, discipline and rear this little person into a big person we can then kiss on the cheek, pat on the back and send out into the world to continue the cycle. Our job is then complete. We have accomplished our task. Life is good, calm and serene.
No. It isn't.. You see, when you have little children who become big children--and let's face it, they ARE our children regardless of age......there is not calm. Life is still tenuous. It is still chaotic. And real. And SCARY. The only thing that has changed is that you now will feel a total and complete sense of helplessness most if not all of the time.
Sure it's hard watching your little boy fall and require stitches. Or seeing your little girl get her feelings hurt by the mean girls at school. But nothing can prepare you for the real hurts.....the cuts that stitches won't heal and hugs won't take away. The pain that grows behind your child's eyes when the girl he loves suddenly drops him for another guy. The fear you live with when he stops living for three months and you wonder each morning if this will be the day you find the unthinkable. Those skinned knees are nothing next to the pit in your stomach when the phone rings at 5am and it's your adult child telling you that "I'm ok, so try not to freak out but some guy just tried to kill me. He pointed a gun at my face and pulled the trigger but missed". Or the 3am phone call to rescue your adult child from jail where some power hungry police officer has thrown him, refusing him medical care after he was assaulted and has blood coming from both ears, his nose and mouth.
You will almost long for those mean girl days when several years later you watch your little girl, now a mother herself.....make the hard decision to end her relationship with the man she loves for the good of her child. When you would rather go back to wiping away the tears of your child after being bullied for her looks because it's graduated to the so called grown up girl who was your daughter's best friend, jealous of your daughter's grown up looks accusing her of any number of infractions and sending her nasty messages and instructing her to die, kill herself and hoping her anxiety gets the best of her.
It's watching your adult child struggle to reclaim his life after not one but two strokes have stolen his independence, his confidence, his stability and his calm all the while recalling your little invincible Superman falling off the monkey bars and breaking a bone-----thinking that would be the hardest thing you'd ever have to go through.
No. No one tells you that the broken bones, the stitches, the close calls, the skinned knees, broken hearts and the bloody noses will be the easiest part of parenting your child. No one warns you the the hurts, the scrapes, the injuries of childhood become moments of fear, uncertainty and heartbreak of adulthood. No one warns you that this, the parenting of the grown people you once snuggled to your chest will by far be the hardest, most emotionally exhausting and sometimes physically painful thing you will ever do.
Because there's no need to. The disclaimer would be useless. Because what we already know is....that this job....this thing we call parenting.....is beyond a doubt- WORTH EVERY SINGLE SECOND. And even if they did warn us.......even if there WAS a disclaimer-
We'd do it anyway. Because those moments are nothing, they are minute, they pale when compared to the moments when you watch your adult children experience the pride of making it on their own. The exhuberance of landing their dream job and feeling they can make a difference. The sheer joy the moment they become a parent. Those moments. They are--------well, they are everything.