Momhood

Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Club Dread

The realization that you’re a parent doesn’t hit you on the head, like an “aha!” moment. It usually comes to you in fits and starts. At first, it’s when you’re up nearly all night with a colicky infant. You look around at your messy living room while a bad movie plays on cable TV and there are baby accessories lying all around. You sigh deeply, shake your unwashed head and think, “So, this is parenting.” It’s definitely not the glorious love and roses that you had anticipated as the pregnancy test strip turned blue. Still, it’s where you belong at that moment. And as bone-wearying as the exhaustion is, you wouldn’t trade it for anything.

To me, the dawning of parenthood is in a bad moment. Not because you don’t prove your mettle unless you’ve worried, but because in those moments, you demonstrate to yourself the depth and breadth of your love. My sister had such a moment this week and when she relayed her story to me, I simply said: “Welcome to the club.” She chuckled and knew exactly what I meant.

My sister is a teacher and her 3-year old goes to preschool where she teaches. She had dropped her daughter off and then headed to her own classroom. As the entire school gathered for a prayer service, she looked for her daughter and her preschool class to walk into the church. The class walked in, but there was no sign of her daughter. She looked at her daughter’s teacher with questioning eyes. The teacher looked at her and said: “She walked in right in front of me. She was here just a second ago!” To make a long story short, panic ensued, sending my sister running around the entire school searching for her daughter. My brother in-law was called at work to aid in the search, as were several parents that were volunteering that day. And just when full-scale terror was about to commence, another teacher found my niece, hiding mischievously under a church pew. Gigantic sigh of relief.

I’d say that virtually every parent has had such a moment – when the worry eclipses absolutely everything in your life. Suddenly every TV movie with dire consequences flashes before your eyes and you hope and you pray that your worst fears will all be for naught. Sometimes they are and sometimes, unfortunately, they’re not.

I think the point is that, ironically, we feel more like parents when things are going badly than when everything is fabulous. Is that because the negative impresses us with the full gravity of the job description or is it because, as parents, we’re used to taking none of the credit and all of the blame?

I find it amazing that we have to get a license to fish, hunt or drive a car, but raising a child, one of the most important things you can do on earth, requires only two warm bodies and does not offer any type of instruction manual. It’s a seat-of-the pants endeavor that can be the stuff of legends or nasty memoirs. Sometimes it astounds me that so many do it so willingly. Because in those terrifying moments of lost or sick children, failing grades, behavior problems, substance abuse or any number of things you hope never to endure, you really earn your stripes as a parent. Welcome to the club.

25 Comments:

At 11:50 AM , Blogger Mrs. Flinger said...

Amen. And I totally agree that my "AHA" moments are in the hardest moments of motherhood. Usually they are more like "OH SHIT" moments myself. But pretty much the same.

 
At 11:57 AM , Blogger scrapperjen said...

I would agree that parenthood is probably the single greatest adventure in the world!!!!!! Do you have a line of badges we can hand out at each new "level"?

I'm glad your neice was found - stinker.... LOL!

 
At 8:24 AM , Anonymous Kate said...

I know what you mean about the license to parent. I work at the mall and just want to whomp people over the head all day long for failure to pay attention to their kids. Very well said!!

So glad your niece was found under a pew....I was reading and getting nervous until I got to that part.

Great blog!!! I'll be back.

 
At 11:25 AM , Blogger Chaotic Mom said...

I gaven up reading parenting books years ago. Too many folks with too many opinions, I didn't live up to any of it. Then my friend asked me if my parents were "perfect" and if I turned out "okay". I think my boys will be just fine with me as a mom. Your words are very insightful.

I just read about your blog over at Maryanne's. I'm glad she posted about your blog. Your writing IS excellent. ;)

 
At 11:59 AM , Blogger Jess Riley said...

This was such a thoughtful, honest post! It was clear that you put a lot of thought and heart into it. :-)

 
At 12:01 PM , Blogger David said...

sometimes becoming a parent requires only one warm body and a turkey baster.

Being a MOM or DAD requires heart, and soul!

 
At 1:31 PM , Blogger SB said...

I once had someone tell me that Motherhood is a MARATHON, not a sprint. It's what I tell all of my friends who are first time mothers and at their wit's end...

"Welcome to the Club".

it so fits.

Suz

 
At 7:05 AM , Blogger mar said...

What a clever post and oh, so true!
I guess we never stop earning our stripes...
Michele sent me :)

 
At 8:19 AM , Blogger Midori said...

Hi from Michele`s!

I can see my son being just like your niece in a couple of years time! Much as he wears me out some days, it is definitely a fun rollercoaster ride I am on at the moment and it is good to know that there are so many other people out there just like me!!!

 
At 8:19 AM , Blogger Midori said...

Hi from Michele`s!

I can see my son being just like your niece in a couple of years time! Much as he wears me out some days, it is definitely a fun rollercoaster ride I am on at the moment and it is good to know that there are so many other people out there just like me!!!

 
At 8:26 AM , Blogger Just a trumpet player said...

So true... and well said !

Michele sent me ; have a great weekend !

 
At 3:03 PM , Blogger Tracie said...

Very true. It is a wonderful and yet terrifying club.

Michele sent me to say hi!

 
At 4:12 PM , Blogger Morah Mommy said...

I loved this post. Being a parent is the most rewarding, frustrating, tiring and exhilirating job you can find.

Where else would you willingly work for hugs and kisses?!

Michele sent me today, but I will definetely be back!

 
At 4:21 PM , Blogger Manic Mom said...

What a great post, and now I'm Glad I found you through Jess!

My parenting moment was when I was 8-1/2 months pregnant with my third child. My husband and I took the two other kids (ages 3 and 2) out for a nice day because we wanted to do something special for them before the baby arrived.

We went to a museum and then a brewery (yeah, nice mom I know)... but we had lunch (Well, hub had a beer or two).

Then when he was paying the bill, I had the other two kids up front near the bar. My daughter, 2, climbed on a bar stool and fell off. I didn't think she was that hurt, but the stool landed on top of her and it was heavy wood with a square seat. The edge of the seat got her right between the eyes. Blood was squirting EVERYWHERE, she was crying, then unresponsive. Horrible! Horrible. An ambulance came and I went in it with her on the stretched to hold her. When we got to the hospital, people thought it was me who needed attention because I looked about ready to go into labor.

YIKES. Not fun remembering that one. She only got two stitches, but a quarter of an inch away, and she could have lost an eye.

Thanks for reminding me to cherish my kiddies. I'm going to read more of your blog and bookmark you too!

 
At 8:33 PM , Blogger The Mistress of the Dark said...

I so agree. Anyone that has functioning reproductive organs can make a baby regardless of their ablilities to care for the child. Then again....try to adopt and it's another story.

It's a weird world we live it.

Here via Michele's

 
At 8:36 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

This post is one of those perfect little captures of parenthood that everyone really ought to read. This one sentence really struck me:

"...we feel more like parents when things are going badly than when everything is fabulous..."

How right you are. It's like driving. When you're cruising down the highway with the tunes on, the engine loafing, the road spread out wide and straight for as far as the eye can see, you're not really driving.

But throw in some blinding snow, a few twists and turns, darkness and a few other minor impediments and you're suddenly more of a driver than Michael Schumacher could ever hope to be.

It's all about perspective. It's all about how willing you are to grip the wheel and drive that thing for all it's worth. I wouldn't give up this parenting thing for anything.

 
At 2:34 AM , Blogger Open Mouth Insert Foot said...

i can see myself returning here very often. love this site. cheers.

 
At 2:34 AM , Blogger Open Mouth Insert Foot said...

i can see myself returning here very often. love this site. cheers.

 
At 11:14 AM , Blogger Paste said...

Kids - who'd 'ave 'em!

Can't live with 'em, can't live without them.

We've got three and wouldn't swop them for the world.

Here from Michele's today.

 
At 3:26 PM , Blogger Kevin said...

First things first, Michele sent me.

That was a good post. You're right about the irony regarding licensing for fishing, hunting, driving, etc. The problem with licensing people to parent is that the government and the courts would be too busy dealing with all the license suspensions due to idiotic infractions. Sadly, I'm only half joking.

 
At 3:28 PM , Blogger panthergirl said...

When I was married to my daughter's dad, he told me three days after it happened that he had lost her (2 years old) in Macy's Herald Square TWO WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

If you have ever been to NYC during Christmas season, you'll know why I nearly vomited, literally, when he told me this. She had wandered out onto 7th Avenue and Broadway and a woman came back into the store with her yelling "Emma's Dad??"

You can never describe the feeling I felt to someone who has not been a parent.

But the good stuff is good, too. ;)

Here via michele!

 
At 5:29 PM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Not ever having had children I honestly don't know first hand....but, I can relate to a certain degree anyway...! I agree with you that it is amazing you need a license to fish but not to "parent"....I think it is the hardest most responsible and importamt thing one can do in this world...! And I give all "responsible" caring mothers and fathers a standing ovation!!! And that includes you, Karen.

 
At 7:31 PM , Anonymous surcie said...

Oy. You are so, so right.

 
At 5:58 PM , Blogger utenzi said...

Hi Karen. Michele sent me!

I'm not a parent so I didn't lock in to your post until that last paragraph. It is amazing that parenthood is a club open to all. I doubt very much I'd make a good parent so it amazes me that I could do it with no objections from anybody. Freaky stuff. Like you said, if you need a license to do almost anything else...

Kids are way too much responsibility for me!

 
At 7:27 AM , Anonymous Annabelle said...

As a new mother, I am having many of those "aha. so this is what it means..." moments, and you're right they generally occur when it's tough (I have found myself watching many a bad tv show, trying not to trip over baby paraphenalia, while walking around with my daughter, praying for her to fall asleep). But sometimes a smile, a giggle or a shriek of sheer delight hit this sentiment home, too.

 

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