There was an episode of Friends in which something funny happens. (I know, that really narrows it down. I think it was after Joey did something ridiculous. Hmm…that doesn’t help, does it?). Anyway, after the laughter fades, the camera pans to Chandler who is vibrating with energy, and he blurts out “Too. Many. Jokes.”
This post is like that for me. Too. Many. Too many metaphors. Too many thoughts. Too many ideas.
I have three friends who are pregnant right now, each with their first child. And I keep thinking about what I want to say to them. What words of experience can I hand down, so that their path of parenthood is just a little bit easier. A little smoother. A little less…unknown.
And so, metaphor upon metaphor swirl through my mind. Experience after experience clamor for their space on the page. What to say? Which way to say it?
There is a skin cancer public service announcement in which all of the adults send a message to their 16 year old self. ‘Dear 16 year old me’. I love it. It is poignant, sweet, funny, heartbreaking, truthful, factual, brutal. And it makes sense to me now as a 40 something. But would I have listened as a 16 year old? And more to the point, could I have heard? Would I have fully understood? Would I have found the PSA meaningful?
I don’t know.
So, this is where I am stuck trying to write something to mothers-to-be. The wisdom that I have accumulated comes from walking my distinct parenting path. What is wisdom for me, may not be for them. It may be words that don’t make sense right now. How to bridge the gap? Is it actually possible? I don’t want to clog their minds with ideas that only make sense in retrospect, in the sharp clarity of hindsight. Wisdom I didn’t have a week ago, a month ago, or a season ago. Would I have understood it back then?
There is lots and lots and lots of advice out there. Books, youtube videos, checklists. But advice is just that- someone else’s knowing. It is words about the doing of parenting. If I were to add to the lots and lots, these would be on my list:
- Allow your partner the space to develop their own parenting style. There is no one right way, the richness comes with different perspectives.
- Don’t focus on what everybody else is doing. or saying. or saying they are doing. Do your own thing, listen to your intuition.
- You’ll spend hours care taking of your child’s body, hours more nourishing their minds, make sure to spend time with their soul.
There are lots and lots of other things I would say about the doing of parenting.
But more important than any to-do list in parenting is the to-be list. So if I were to give just one sentence of advice, one line of wisdom, it is this:
Be at peace with the unknowing.
Each step of each day of parenting is walking into the unknown. And the unknowing lasts forever. So embrace it. Find a place for it in your heart. Be gentle with yourself when you do not know. And welcome to the sisterhood.