It is funny how something so normal and natural can feel so exciting and unknown.
When they say that your life will never be the same, they are right. It will be harder, but better. Which sounds very strange, but it is true.
You are now on a path toward greatness – if you accept the challenges in front of you, do your best, and do it with God, you will emerge on the other end a better person. You will be more patient. You will be less selfish. You will have more empathy. You will be more merciful.
Surprisingly, it will start now, while you are pregnant. You may find that the people around you will say the most startling, inappropriate, insensitive things you can imagine. They will share hospital horror stories. They will joke that you were unfaithful to your husband. They will call you names (preggo) and laugh when you are ‘about to pop.’ Ask God to help you let their worldly comments roll off.
That is mildly annoying and difficult – but the baby will come, innocent and permanent!
It is hard to figure out what an infant needs. Ask God to help!
It is hard to change a messy diaper on a squirming baby. Ask God to help!
It is hard to listen to crying, urgent crying, crying that won’t stop. God help!
It is hard to get up multiple times in the middle of the night. Ask God.
It is hard when you’ve been caring for them all day and you need a break, but you don’t get one. God!
God designed them to challenge you. They will find all of your inconsistencies. They will ignore you. They will disobey you. They will repeatedly forget what you just told them, and they will remember something you wish you hadn’t even said.
They don’t think like you. The things that are important to you are not important to them. And the things that are important to them will seem trivial to you. Don’t force them to be like you – there is nothing wrong with them. It is YOU that needs to change.
They need INSANE amounts of love, acceptance, understanding, tenderness, and mercy. WAY more than you are capable of giving – get it from God. You have to hug them MORE than correct them. You have to hug them WHILE you correct them. You have to hug them AFTER you have corrected them. And you have to be corrected just as much as they do.
They GIVE insane amounts of love, acceptance, understanding, tenderness, and mercy. WAY more than you are capable of giving. Their love is like God’s – UNCONDITIONAL – it is your job to be this way too.
You may notice that they also give attitude, temper tantrums, fits, fears, persistence, whining, and all variety of rudeness. DON’T take it personally. DON’T argue. You can be in charge without being an ass. Yes, it is embarrassing – get over yourself and deal with it like an adult. An adult who loves her children even when they behave like children.
One note about labor and delivery, which is a concern that was heavy on my mind when I was in your shoes. Yes, it is incredibly painful. Epidurals are wonderful, but getting one is incredibly painful. Someone once offered these words of comfort: the pain is over in a day. I did not find this very comforting, but it is actually the best advice I received on the subject. The pain IS actually brief. Memorable, but brief. And compared to what you get, you’ll probably be willing to go through it again.
Finally, your spouse. For some reason this gets harder too. Assuming there is no abuse, try not to think about yourself and your needs so much. Think about him. Think about her. What can you do to help? What can you do to make this moment easier for him or her? Give compliments and encouragement, even if they don’t deserve it. YOU ARE A TEAM. Yes, they are going to drive you crazy and be selfish and lazy and clueless. Choose to forgive. A LOT. Choose to do things you don’t want to do. Do them for God. You vowed to be with this flawed person forever, and they vowed to be with you and your flaws forever. Mean what you said – be with them forever.