From the Front Lines: New Perspectives from Active-Duty Motherhood

What did I get myself into?

The first year of new parenting. Why didn’t anyone warn me what a war zone it was going to be?

During that first year of newbie parenting, I felt like it was my personal duty to warn other new parents of what was to come.

Perhaps I thought I could help them by cutting straight to the center of (what I thought was) the truth of parenting:

This stuff is going to be harder than you think.

They didn’t yet know about the colossal shift in identity they most likely faced.

Or how to comfort a crying baby (and even… how to let their baby cry).

And who knew that sometimes, the worst part of going to the grocery store was just trying to strap the kid into the car seat?!

I even got to the point where I despised baby shower invitations. All those pastel colors and a picture of a sleeping angel baby thrown in for good measure.

Why wasn’t anyone describing the truth? Becoming a parent feels like being dropped in a war zone of baby cries, diaper blow-outs and never ending worries.

I didn’t realize until I was diapers-deep in infanthood that it was hard in all the ways I didn’t expect.

Perhaps I thought I’d have more time to myself at night to refuel? Or that I could still maintain friendships to the same degree that I had before?

And then…

About a year into this parenting gig I found myself in line for the bathroom at Dempsey’s in Petaluma. An old friend from high school popped up and after some hugs and hellos, he shared with me that his wife was in her 32nd week of pregnancy with their first child.

He smiled, excited to share this information with me. And with the seriousness of someone who was about to announce the zombie apocalypse, I locked eyes with him and gave him my warning:

“Your entire life is about to be flipped on its head.”

And there was his smile again, this time accompanied by a frantic, even nervous nod, and I finally saw it:

I saw myself.

I saw myself as the pre-child woman who was blissfully ignorant and yet blindly excited.

And it was beautiful.

It’s not very often that our lives change with such a dramatic twist, as in the transformation that happens when we have children.

And perhaps the ignorant pregame is part of that.

Because it’s not really ignorance. And no one can tell you what to expect.

There are different aspects of parenting that will be more or less of a war-zone for each of us, depending on our uniquely personal paths.

So why would I want to take that experience away from someone else? Transformation isn’t something that is given to you. It is earned. It is hard.

But we can do hard things.

It’s not transformation without the work.

And what a blessing it is: to get to do the work…

(somebody please remind me of this blessing tomorrow when we attempt a trip to the grocery store)

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