Nothing, and I mean nothing, can prepare you for parenthood.
Recently a coworker announced that she was expecting. And all the women in the room, mostly moms, said cute things like, "wow, how exciting," and "Oh! Yay!" Why is it that all us other moms, us more-experienced moms, don't clue the new mom in on what to really expect? Is it because we think that they should just figure it out like we had to? Is it because, well, they're already expecting so now they're stuck learning all of those little "lessons" anyway? No one asks other moms before they're expecting how parenthood really goes. And come to think of it....if we really knew, and I mean, REALLY knew....would we still do it???
My answer? Yes. Absolutely.
I remember bringing Lauren home for the first time. We had just spent three days in the hospital after her birth where you have all these nurses, doctors, and aides talking you through every little thing that happens. They tell you when to feed her, how to feed her, how to change her, how to bathe her, how to dress her, how she should sleep, etc. Then they wheeled us outside, helped us get into the car and wished us luck. Jason and I seriously looked at each other as we pulled away from the hospital and said, "So, I guess we just leave then?" We were on our own with this little person, and no doctors, nurses, or aides to talk us through the ins and outs of our days with her! It was the most bizarre feeling to be suddenly on our own and totally responsible for another life.
And then they grow up. They grow up and learn new things and go through new stages, and at each step you are asking yourself if you are doing this right. Am I feeding them the right foods, are we reading the right books, is my discipline strategy working the way I want it to? And just when you think you've got it figured out....BAM! Their teacher calls you in the middle of the day and you are right back at square one!
Your children are going to disappoint you. They are going to anger you. They are going to make you cry. They are going to make you say things in your mind that you NEVER thought you'd say. And sometimes you are going to handle these little setbacks correctly, and sometimes you are going to yell.
But, your children are also going to make you proud. They are going to make you smile. They are going to make you laugh. They are going to make you cry happy tears. They are going to do something that makes you realize that all of your hard work is actually paying off.
Those are the moments that we are thinking about when we tell that new mom "congratulations." We know that she is going to be ok, because WE are ok. We don't have to tell her about all the not-so-fun stuff that comes with parenting. We just need to be there for her when she's going through it. If for nothing else, but to tell her a story that makes her current situation seem less awful.