by Lauren Hartmann
Before I had kids, I had this crazy idea that I would wake up one day and magically feel ready to be a parent. I figured I would get all my ducks in a row; you know, all the usual boxes checked off on the check list. I went to college and got a degree, got a job, married my boyfriend of six years, bought a house. And then I waited for that magical day to arrive.
And waited for the day when I would wake up and feel ready to get a move on this kid-having business.
But time ticked on and I didn’t feel any more ready than I had before. My husband was champing at the bit to have kids, but I just wasn’t there yet. It’s not that I didn’t want to have kids; I did. I was a preschool teacher with a degree in child and family development, so clearly I enjoyed children. So why wasn’t I “ready?”
After four years of marriage, I finally decided what the heck? Let’s get knocked up. Was I ready? No. Not really, but I felt like I would figure it out with a little bit of on-the-job training … and I did.
Now that I’m a “full-fledged parent” who has been at this for two-and-a-half years, I can safely say that it’s near impossible to be really and truly “ready” for parenthood ever, and here’s why:
1. You’ll never have “enough” money.
Most people want to wait until they’re financially secure before having children. That’s smart. Insecure financial situations definitely present added challenges to new parents. Still, my own parents were young, broke and in love when they had me and I turned out OK. Were there some hard times? Sure. But I think all parents have hard moments regardless of their finances. Unless you’re Bill Gates, you’ll probably never feel like you have enough money to be totally secure.
I remember talking with one of the parents of my preschoolers back when I was a teacher. This woman had a successful career, drove a brand new luxury car and lived in a million-dollar home. I told her we were waiting to have kids until we were more financially secure and she told me I would probably never feel financially secure enough and that even she didn’t. She said, “You’re never really ready for parenthood. Just get as ready as you can get and then jump in.” Best advice.
2. You’ll never be ready for the craziness.
Will you ever really be ready for sleep deprivation, projectile bodily fluids and fragmented conversations with your peers interrupted by crying babies or screaming toddlers or potty training disasters? No! Who could possibly ever feel “ready” for that? There will be messy moments and frustrating moments and straight-up ugly moments. But there will also be amazing moments that will make the craziness worth it.
3. You’ll never know enough.
News flash: All those other parents you see schlepping their kids to the park and the grocery store; they have no idea what they’re doing, either. Even I have no clue what I’m doing and I’m a parent who happens to also have a degree in child development. We’re all just doing the best we can and learning as we go. Some days we’re stellar parents and some days we screw up. You can read all the books and blogs and articles but, in the end, parenting is simply being with and studying your own unique child and figuring out what is best for him or her. That parenting instinct will kick in and you’ll get it. I promise.
So go ahead and plan ahead, do everything you can to be as prepared as you can. Consider parenthood thoughtfully before signing on. But if you’re waiting for a magical moment where the heavens will open and trumpets will play “Ode to Joy,” then you can quit waiting. Cause it’s just never gonna happen.
“Just get as ready as you can get and then jump in.”