They tell you it’s going to be hard. Oh, they sure do.
“You will have your hands full!” was the number one phrase strangers and friends alike would inform me while I carried my second son – my first just shy of 1 year old.
They tell you it’s going to be exhausting.
There’s a decade of mothers standing, or rather slumped, waiting for their turn of a full night of uninterrupted rest. Their eyes are probably half-opened and clutching a cold cup of weak coffee in their tired hands.
When one phase ends, like night-time feedings or night terrors, the illusion of glorious sleep seems reachable.
They tell you it will be frustrating.
Parenthood is no walk in the park – well maybe, Jurassic Park. It’s not just a clever take on an old saying, but child-rearing can sometimes feel like rounding up a pair of ferocious velociraptors. The frustrating moments could feel never-ending and weary with the desperation to just fast-forward to the good moments.
They tell you it will go by fast.
I will never forget those early sleepy days of pushing my newborn around in the buggy of the grocery store.
“It goes by fast – enjoy it!” The most common line, followed by the usual tale of how their child has grown, moved out, or is now a parent themselves.
Enjoy it? I would always think to myself. My baby only sleeps when I hold him, is a boob-feeding machine, and I can’t get anything done around the house because he cries when I put him down!
Now I can relate to those well-meaning parents. I find myself saying the exact same thing to new moms. Enjoy it. It goes by fast.
They tell you that one day, you will miss the mess and chaos.
One day, there won’t be tiny hands smearing chocolate pudding on the table or a teenager to gripe at for leaving their dirty clothes on the floor. The chaos of raising children, I am so often told, will be dearly missed when the walls become silent and the floors are too clean.
They tell you it’s bittersweet.
The highs and lows. The firsts and lasts. Parenting is heartache and joy rolled into one. It’s letting go with the desire to hold on forever. It’s a heart full of pride watching them ride away on their bike without trainers while simultaneously yelling “Slow down!!”
They all tell you. You think you know. And then it happens.
What they don’t tell you is this:
Your own child will break your heart.
When you wake up one day and mommy suddenly turns into mom.
When the protests of “I want to do this on my own, I am a big boy now” find yourself scourging for any minuscule thing you can selfishly do for him.
At the sight of that bulky, too-big-for-his-body backpack, hanging off his body while he walks away.
With the way he said “goodbye” on his first day of school; trying his best to keep a smile on his face but in his eyes, you could tell he wanted to cry.
When the snuggles become shorter and his tiny hand that you hold, won’t stop growing.
When the birthday candles on the cake keep growing.
They are little. Until they’re not.
They will break your heart and they don’t even know it. You won’t even know it until it happens.
They don’t mean to break your heart, of course. They’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to do – spread their wings in order to turn into the person they are meant to be.
And you get the front row seat to watch it all. All of the tears. The firsts and lasts. The joy and pain. You’re dying to navigate the ride for them since you know the true core of this world; how it can be hateful, scary, and ugly, yet you’re strong enough to sit by their side and guide them
So am I mad that I was never told that my cuddly newborn would someday break my heart? Not at all, because I’ve learned what many wise parents before me already know: I’d do it all over again.