Firefighter Hot Shots. S.W.A.T. Army Rangers. Special Ops. Navy SEALS. You get the idea. These are the Top Guns, the elite of the elite. They have specialized duties and they perform them better than anybody else does.
Kind of like we do as first-time parents… HAHA, not really (sorry, couldn’t keep that one in). It’s more like the idea of how we would like to be as first-time parents, or any-time parents. We would like to have everything in order, have every supply we might ever need, have a wise comment for every emotional breakdown, know exactly how to handle every situation…except that we don’t.
After the elation (hopefully) of finding out you are pregnant, you both go through a myriad of levels of “special ops training”. First is morning sickness, which is NOT just in the morning and isn’t just sickness. There’s the tired, the achy, the emotions, the hormones. The hormones. Then there are cravings, which could be anything from chocolate cookies to fried octopus. Then there is weight gain, and the mobility issues. You used to be able to fit through that door sideways! And you realize how far away from your arms your toes really are. Seriously, why God?! Then there are labor pains. Breathe through what?! It’s ripping my body apart!
Then you hold it for the first time, your sweet bundle of joy, and all memories of the pain subside. Yeah, whatever. And this sweet bundle of joy cries and screams and throws up all over everywhere (and not just polite, dainty spittle either, we’re talking Exorcist-like projectile vomiting here) and, if you’ve ever seen The Princess Bride and know about ROUSs (Rodents of Unusual Size), then you can guess what POUSs are? Yes, poops. Poops of all shapes and sizes and consistencies. And indeed, some are very unusual.
As the joy bundles grow older, there are different operations we must train for and endure. There’s the first “No!”; the first day of school (and honestly, this is pretty much every year of school through college for some of us, I mean some of you); the first playdate; the first crush; the sex talk (yes, that is our responsibility); the first driving lesson…and the tenth, and every single day they drive; their first job; going away to college; paying for college; getting married; and then…their first child, meaning your first grandbaby.
Oh sure, there are books on the shelves meant to be helpful…parenting handbooks, how to’s, Suck it up for Dummies, You Call That Parenting? You know, the standard variety of others trying to tell you how to handle your unique situation. Friends and family have their own judgments, I mean helpful suggestions. Doctors have a special “you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, do you?” look. And some celebrities (I am clarifying some) make it look so easy. You’d think they managed work, kids, the household, their perfect weight, makeup, fashion and workout regimens like all of those were nothing.
But behind our muddled, envious-colored parental glasses, we forget that those people make a GOB more money than we do and it takes them a whole team to do what we do with just the one or two of us “regular” parents. So, don’t let them fool you. You are doing a fine job. Even on days you end up hiding in the closet on the floor crying, like in Moms’ Night Out, a personal favorite of mine, you are still doing okay.
It takes years for these Special Ops guys and girls to do what they do with such expertise. By the time your kid has a kid, you should be good and “elite”…and ready to throw all those rules out the window and just spoil your grandchildren! You’ve earned it. Look at all that training you had to go through!
And remember you are not alone. It doesn’t have to just be you and your spouse against the world. It really DOES take a village. You need somebody to have your 6…and your 7 and your 3 and your 10. Call on friends or family or “experts” or whoever you want to be part of your little village, whoever you feel is beneficial to your parenting operations.
Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
And Deuteronomy 4:9 says: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
All that to say, just do your best.
And trust your gut. That’s one of the rules of Special Forces, somewhere around “always carry a knife”. But, in general, I would recommend that “trust your gut” one more often.