“So,” asked a friend over dinner recently, “are you ready to be parents?”
The DB began, “well, we have the stroller…”
I added, “and the car seat.”
“We’ve got the crib.” “Oh yes, certainly. And plenty of diapers.” “Well, for the first week. But we need to get wipes.” “We’ve got lots of clothes.” “Tons.” “And linens for the bed and duvet covers for both the little and the big duvet...”
“Yes,” said our friend. “I see you are very prepared. But I meant was, well, are you ready to be parents.”
“We knew what you meant,” the DB replied, as we looked at each other across the table and exchanged some nervous laughter. “There’s just not any good answer for that.”
Durr, say those of you who aren’t parents, the answer is either yes or no, hello? You are SO not ready to be parents!
Those of you with kids know; the answer really is way too complicated to be answered over a casual dinner.
I have not read every child-care book on the planet, nor have I an advanced degree in Child Development (thank god, parents who have degrees in Child Development seem to always be slightly more neurotic and anxious about their kids than the rest of us poor uneducated slobs) and even if I did, I still don’t think I’d be confident in saying “why OF COURSE I’m ready! Silly bugger, now pass the whiskey, I need to get very drunk.”
That isn’t to say I haven’t paid attention during “Nanny 911” or “Supernanny” or other shows that put one right off of having kids (seriously, what is it with these people, not only are they horrible parents, but they managed to breed three or more times before the little monsters turned on them - what were you thinking, that you’d just keep popping them out until you got a nice one??). Or haven’t discussed various parenting situations with the DB. But I don’t think that there is such a thing as “ready” as if it’s a black or white, yes or no, kind of thing. “Ready” is a three-dimensional cloud in which certain areas you may be prepared for and others you may not which total up to your “readiness” but may be in a completely different vector than someone else’s “readiness” and neither of these results is better or worse than the other.
Sorry for the random mathy imagery, I watch a lot of National Geographic Channel.
So I can say that I have the physical accoutrements of “readiness” - the crib, the baby bath, the iddle biddy stripy socky-wockies (dude, what is it about pregnancy that makes one completely nuts over baby FEET? Seriously, it’s like I’ve developed a tiny foot fetish and my preference is for stripped socks that I can barely fit over my thumb.), I’ve read up on the basics of baby care, I know how to change a diaper, and I completely understand the mechanics of breastfeeding.
But actually doing it… well, that’s another story.
How will I function with the upcoming sleep deprivation? What if breastfeeding turns out to be even more difficult than I can handle? What if the Spawn is a particularly fussy baby? How will I handle the overpowering emotions that are part hormones and part exhaustion and part iddle biddy stripy socky-wocky madness? Besides, how on earth are you supposed to be ready for having a whole new human being of your very own? The big eyes looking up at you? The little hand that grasps your finger with THAT GRIP?
If you say you can be prepared for all of that, and a million and ten things you haven’t thought of yet, I call you a dirty filthy liar and I’m a gonna cut you (sorry, hormones).
But you know what, you aren’t supposed to be. I mean, in real life, not what you read on the internet or in a book. Although, to be fair to the internet and the books, they pretty much lay out “you have no idea what’s about to hit you, you sad sack of cellulite” because there isn’t anyway to be ready and all you can do is hold on to your big girl pants and roll with the punches.
The DB and I are ready to roll. And I am certainly wearing big girl pants.