When I was first married — undoubtedly talking about how stressful and busy my childless life was — all the seasoned parents around me would say, seemingly constantly:
“Just wait ’til you have kids!”
How utterly smug they seemed. It felt downright insulting, like they were saying: Honey, you have no idea. (I almost wanted to not have kids, just to show them.)
But oh were they right.
Parenthood is just one of those things you can’t know until you’ve tried it.
In this month’s magazine — our annual Baby Issue — our World’s Okayest Mom columnist, Katie Dohman, explains it far better than I ever could:
“I used to get SO angry when people would say that I couldn’t know the love of a child until I became a parent. What a jerk thing to say — like I don’t understand love or have meaning in my life?” she writes. “I realize now: OF COURSE you can know love and experience profound meaning without having children. It’s just that you can’t know the very specific emotional swings, the devotion or the pressures, until you’re squarely in the middle of it with your own specific tiny tyrant(s). That’s terrifying. It’s also what I’ve come to think might be the world’s greatest honor with some of life’s very best rewards.”
I recently heard this same feeling captured most beautifully in Brandi Carlile’s heartbreaking single The Mother. (You can watch her sing it directly to her daughter, Evangeline, on YouTube.) It opens like this:
Welcome to the end of being alone inside your mind
You’re tethered to another and you’re worried all the time
You always knew the melody, but you never heard it rhyme.
If you’re new to this whole parenting thing, get ready: Your babies (if you listen) will teach you things — about yourself — that you never asked to learn.
As Dohman puts it: “Kids have an incredible ability to hold a magnification mirror up to you — the kind that allows you to see your pores, translucent stray eyebrows and dust motes — but it’s the kind that examines your parenting work instead,”
she writes, adding: “I give you permission to like what you see.”
Wait ’til you have kids. You’ll know exactly what she means.