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Pieces of Parenthood

Pieces of Parenthood

I laughed out loud more than once while Sasha opened gifts at her baby shower.  “Thank goodness you gave a toy, otherwise the baby would only have boxes to play in!”  “Will this baby nighttime sound machine drown out the crying?”  “Will I get to wear sleep sacs to bed, too?”  I sensed her funny acknowledgments serving to mask her mounting anxiety about the birth date fast approaching.

For this soon-to-be first time mom, each and every bow untied brought her closer to the realization that her baby would soon be here.  The enormity of how her life was about to change was not lost on her.  Although the specifics of how exactly it will change are still unknown, she knows her life will never be the same.

One wise and experienced mother said, “You will change and grow in more ways than you can even imagine.  Every day will present something new to learn and know.”  My beautiful pregnant friend took a sip of water, fanned herself a little, and took a deep breath.

A few months ago, another mom I know, Shelly our legal assistant, prepared for the deployment of her military serving husband to the Middle East.  Daily she checked through mental checklists of how she would do everything with her two toddler aged sons in tow and without her spouse’s support.  Overwhelm, anxiety, and uncertainty were ever-present at the top of her daily emotions.

She too, knew that life in this season was going to take on dramatic changes.  How would she manage her young boys missing their dad while managing her own sadness?  How would she chase after her 3 year old son while in the middle of changing the other’s diaper?  The complexities of the changes coming to the surface brought fear as well as a peek at utter independence.  It would soon all be on her.

These women reminded me of how I felt facing divorce with my own children.  I knew my life and the lives of my daughters were never going to be the same.  I did not know yet all the ways it would be altered and how far-reaching or long lasting the impact would be.  I worried about parenting on my own.  I wondered about all that I knew I didn’t know.  I teetered between terrified and petrified.  On occasion, a spike of excitement would hit me by the sheer challenge of it.

The advice and passed-down-wisdom for all of these moms:  new, single, divorced is the same.

Take each day as its own and be present to it.

You and your children will actually survive.  But it may take naps.

Let in all of the support you can.  There is a reason for the adage that it takes a village.  Let the village live in your house.

Parenthood, like life, has many seasons – some more challenging than others.  During these times that are more frightening in the unknown, know that the one constant is the love between you and your child and that will always carry the day.

Angela Dunne