Thursday, September 27, 2007

Maybe there's no such thing as easing into parenthood

When our friends who have children come over to visit, as terrifying as it is to see how demanding and destructive toddlers can be in the span of 30 seconds, I remind myself that our daughter isn't going to come out with the ability to run around grabbing stuff off table tops and screaming things like, "BUT I WANT IT NOWWWWW!"

Sure, I know that time will eventually come, but hopefully by then we'll have a little better handle on it. I liken it to easing into a cold lake pinky toe first rather than diving in headfirst. The shock to the system is far too overwhelming.

But last night our friends Ben and Val stopped over with their daughters: 3-year-old Avery and 4-week-old Addelyn.

The newborn is exactly what we're in store for, so I knew I couldn't shrug off her behavior with my lake analogy. She IS the pinky toe.

Avery busied herself by digging through the dog toy pile, chucking everything as far as she could and watching Toby sprint and hop after each launched torpedo in a very confused way that seemed to say, "Well what the hell do you want me to retrieve first?"

After much resistance for fear that I would break her, I eventually agreed to hold the baby. And, of course, her mild demeanor instantly changed to one of discontent. She scrunched up her face, curled her lips to reveal a gummy grimace and started to cry.

"I know, I'm not doing it right, huh?" I told her in my best attempt at soothing tones as I half-assed a jumbled bouncy/sway/rock motion that probably made her want to cry harder.

But then this miraculous thing happened. After switching her position a few times, she eventually settled down. Granted, it was only for a moment, but it felt like a gigantic victory.

Then she started screaming so hard that her adorable pink face turned purple with rage.

Val assured me it was only because the baby was hungry, but in the minute or so before she plucked Addelyn out of my arms and fed her, it was as if a mini Apocalypse hit our living room. And I hadn't the slightest clue what to do about it.

Sure, I can explain it away by saying I'll know my own child better and eventually be able to decipher her cries, but just knowing that a purple-faced wailing monster is about to take up residence in our home is a bit of a reality check.

I think I have to change my lake analogy. You're diving headfirst into parenthood no matter what age they are when they come to live with you.

The challenges are just a little different.

I hope we're up for it.


Erinn said...

Don't worry about anything. You and Jerry will be awesome parents. Just watch out for that warm spot in the lake. Who knows what that is.

Candi said...

It's not too bad. Once you have your own you do know them better. I just remember there are only so many things a newborn can be crying about. Hunger, sleepy, or discomfort (pain). You'll do great with your little girl.

Anonymous said...

I know this won't keep you from it, but there's no need to worry. I had three little siblings and even without being the mom and having that biological instinct, with each one of them I got to the point where I recognized the differences in their cries. I could tell whether they were in pain or uncomfortable or if they were hungry or if they just wanted attention. It comes from being around that other person and getting to know them. Crying is just their form of verbal communication. On top of that, you WILL have the mom instincts, which will give you a great headstart.

kristin said...

You're going to be great!

aahcoffee said...

You'll be fine. No one is ever prepared, but being a parent is one of those learn as you go along things. You'll screw up, everyone does, and you will love them so much you will think your heart will burst...and you will hate them just as hard every so often. Both are totally normal.

julie said...

Keep in mind that there's also a difference between your own "lake" and someone else's. Not only will you get to know your own baby's cries and needs, but she'll also instinctively know YOU as her momma and will be calmed just by being in your arms where another baby might feel unsure.

Jennifer said...

I think I've mentioned this before, but remember,

mommies aren't born, they are made.

No one is an expert from day 1, its a learning process for both you and the baby.

You'll be just fine. You'll make mistakes but you'll learn from them. All us mommies do.

Ray said...

Great analogy. Like you said you'll do just fine with her. Dealing with other people's kids/babies are always different.

Me, I hold babies with the kind of fear that you do. Not wanting to make them cry, and not wanting to see that gummy grimace, heh. I fear that I'll never get that motherly instinct though, even when I have my own baby. But I guess that's just silly of me. I hope I prove myself wrong if I ever do decide to have children.

But once again you'll do just fine. You already love that baby so much, things can only go uphill from here. And hopefully that lakes lukewarm. =]

Take, care.

the plainsman said...

I believe that you two will do great, lots of wise words above, too.

But think of it this way -- you will have a new trove of experiences to write about and Jerry to talk about - what could be better!!

Suzy said...

You guys will be great!!! I'm sure your own baby will be totally different!!!

Kristin said...

You guys will be amazing parents :P


Shalini said...

I like what jennifer said...

And it's so true Mommies aren't born, but made. It's a learning process for all involved, even the grandparents

You guys are going to be awesome!

mercurial scribe said...

When my husband nearly went comatose from the shock of "I'm pregnant" my Mom told me something that I think is just too true:

"It's just like with marriage. You're never really ready, but you jump in anyway and hope for the best."

This made me laugh. Just think about the times you hang out with your married friends and you think about "I could never put up with HIM!" I think it's like that with the kids too. It's just different when it's yours. And I figure if I could deal with Justin's weird time schedules and fussy pack-rat organization, I can figure out my kid. It may take me awhile, but I can do it.

And Lord knows you and Jer can do it. :-)

Jessica said...

I just wanted to let you know that I changed my blog url, I took out the underscores. I'm now at:

Emmy said...

you and the hubby will be fine. sincerely! y'all will! and it's perfectly natural to be anxious and worry about the little things. at first, everything will seem a very big deal and things will feel extremely overwhelming. but (eventually) they won't feel like that anymore. you'll in time grow accustomed to her cries and needs as if they were your own. so i would simply suggest that y'all just take things one day/step at a time. that's all any of us can really do in this world when new, wonderful, and exciting things or events happen in our lives. the majority of mysteries in life weren't figured out in a day. the nature of things will take its course and love will handle the rest.

Lisa said...

I think you guys are MORE than up for it. You will be amazing parents! Hope you are doing well! Miss you!