During the months of pregnancy, new parents get advice on a million matters, from how to select the right pediatrician to getting a good price on a safe car seat. But that’s only the beginning.
It seems like everyone warns new parents about what they’re up against just in terms of sheer commitment. How their life is going to change and how they can’t imagine the responsibility and the difficulty of child-rearing, yet how they are also going to love it. And no one is ever prepared. Not really.
Without the special hormones produced by the brain during this special time, it’s doubtful how many of us would get through the experience of early parenthood. Yet, get through it almost everyone does as we move past the state where we are able to randomly throw items in the back seat of the car to having to make sure there’s plenty of space around the car seat and no debris that can get Baby into trouble.
Still, there’s a reason for the popularity of parenting classes, both for people in their thirties and beyond having children for the first time and teenage single parents. Of course, the youngsters have the most serious adjustments as some are so immature they may well imagine responsibilities that are more in line with taking care of a dog or cat than an actual human child. It’s harder still if they don’t have help, which is why so often grandparents will become involved in these situations and, on occasion, step in as the de facto full time parent.
Most people handle the adjustment and are often somewhat surprised at how their thinking changes in subtle and overt ways, both welcome and unwelcome. One friend of ours, a superb parent, suddenly found himself more afraid to fly than prior. With a new child, the thought of his own passing became far more frightening to him than ever before. Still, most of the changes are welcome as they are helpful in finding the energy and motivation needed to become the kind of a parent who finds the choice of just the right car seat, teething rattle, or baby bottle a matter of some real fascination and not merely a tedious chore.
Of course, there is a name for the feelings that help parents face the difficult job of parenting, and it’s called love. One comedian we remember compared the experience of being a new parent to being incarcerated by an astonishingly cute and adorable guard. All adults are moved by the amazing power of cuteness, but only parents really understand the deep love that makes all that hard work not really all that terribly hard at all. In a very real sense, love really does make the world go around. Few of us would be here without it.