Being ready for parenthood – what does that actually mean?
“I’m a mother,” a woman in her forties once said to me, “I have no idea what that actually means and how I’ve done it all for the last twenty years.”
Isn't that exciting?
We wait until Christmas Day to have children because we don't feel ready yet. Suddenly the little ones are out of the house and we feel like we no longer know where our heads are after years of washing. The main thing is that everything is still there with the child, we think after this rollercoaster ride, hoping that no one notices that we weren't actually qualified for the job.
It's actually a thought that takes some getting used to - we live in a society that values certificates and training, yes, our own perceived worth is often based on our qualifications. And then there is the most important job of all, which ensures the purely biological survival of humanity, for which there is no single training - we have to rely on a few guides and our instincts - and the many therapy options that come into adulthood what the parents messed up.
How does being a parent work? When am I ready to bring a child into the world? What do I need? Is the basis for a secure job or is it even a requirement? Do I have to be at least 80% self-reflective, have the right partner or have internally detached myself from my parents? Savings in the bank, your own house, training in the educational field or just a positive attitude to life?
Here's a little input for further reflection - because as a mother of soon to be three children, I don't have a definitive answer either. All I know is that I wasn't ready for the first child back then and now I'm not ready for the third child.
Yes, how now?
Every child is different and every experience is completely new - back then I had never had a first child and now I have never had three children, I have never done this before, so how do I know how to do it?
If I survey ten families with three children, I get ten different answers. My third child is completely different from the third child of the Becker family. And above all, I am completely different from every other parent in the world. I have my own story with my own triggers, injuries and successes.
I only know one thing: what you need is courage. Courage to get up every single day and say: I have no idea what's coming, but I'm getting up today. At its core, it is the fear of pure life that paralyzes us. Nobody can predict which of my skills my child will need in order to grow up healthy inside and out. There are a few basics, of course, but we humans are so much more complex.
“I’m not ready yet,” you may say as the child inside you grows. “I’m not ready yet,” you think when your child starts elementary school. “I’m not ready yet,” you scream back internally when it screams at you during puberty that it hates you. And “I’m not ready,” you cry as it leaves the house.
Being ready in advance for something you've never done before is essentially impossible.
We only have one person left from whom we can learn to become ready: the child himself.
Every new day it changes – and you change with it. This constant movement is what you are allowed to engage in in life.
If you are currently in a situation in which you feel this fear of not being able to cope with the challenges that come your way, I call out to you: have faith! You learned to walk as a small child. You finished school (despite that terrible teacher, remember?), got your driver's license and made friends, yes, there was a first meeting there too. And – you outlived your own parental home. Maybe it actually wasn't that easy and you thought a few times as a child that you couldn't do it.
But today you are here. You are pregnant or the partner of a pregnant woman, your child screams half the night or has five tantrums every day. You are experiencing the pubertal growth of an offspring for the first time. You're doing all of this for the first time. Nobody prepared you for this. But you're already in the middle of it. You're already doing it.
Yesterday I was in the swimming pool with my two children, where I almost fell asleep due to pregnancy fatigue. My daughter yelled at me half the day because... well. I didn't function the way she wanted me to. I fell into bed at eight o'clock in the evening feeling like I'd never be able to get up again. I felt exhausted, alone and abandoned. This morning I woke up and made myself some coffee. I wasn't ready. But I'm already doing it.
You got up this morning to face your life one more day. A life that has things in store for us every day that we were not prepared for. Congratulations. I am serious. We make it.
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AUTHOR: SARAH ACKER