There are days, like today, when I think I deserve a medal. I often joke to my husband that there are moments when we earn our parenting stripes, and with two sick kids stuck at home, I feel like I’ve earned my fair share this week.
But while I’ve been here playing on the world’s smallest violin, my best friend had her first baby.
A precious baby girl with strawberry blonde hair and a perfect button nose, chubby little arms and those unmistakably long newborn fingernails.
This delicious package did not arrive into this world easily. She followed a 22hour labour which ended in an emergency c-section. Her arrival shattered long-held dreams about a natural birth, and triggered a serious physical recovery for her doting mother. (Side note: Anyone who thinks a C-section is the ‘easy way out’ needs to be taken somewhere quiet and bitch-slapped.)
This baby’s arrival threw me straight back to the time of my own daughter’s birth in an almost identical scenario (but, lucky for me, I only had to endure 14hrs of labour before my operation was demanded).
If we’re going to talk about earning our parenting stripes, then let’s talk about the day our children enter this world. They rarely enter it in the way we hope for (ie. A birth with no drugs, no stitches, no tearing, no emergency c-sections….). Emotionally we’re smashed against walls sideways. At times, we are so fuelled with love that we’re riding high on the hospital room’s ceiling. The next minute we’re crashing onto the floor with a thud as we learn that establishing breastfeeding sucks (pardon the pun!) and hurts like hell.
One minute, we are staring at our precious babies in their hospital bassinets, refusing to give our body the sleep it craves because we’re literally addicted to this incredible thing. The next minute, our necks are pressed against our chests as we’re hunched over sobbing, wondering why our baby is crying non-stop and why it has to be that everything hurts so damn much.
So if we’re going to talk about our parenting stripes, let’s forget about sick kids, or kids who don’t sleep through the night, or toddler tantrums, or nappy nightmares. Let’s remember the biggest stripe of all… the one we earn the day we become parents. When we learn our biggest lessons, often through a period of immense pain. When we take on immense responsibility while we are weighed down by uncontrollable hormones. When our capacity for loving enters a new dimension, but we’re so fogged up from the birthing experience we aren’t aware that we even stepped through the door into a new world.
To my beautiful best friend, a sister to me, a woman I couldn’t be more proud of…. You have yourself a wonderful gift, and you’ve given all of us a new person to love beyond reason. Well done, you are my hero. You’ve entered the parenting army, and you’ve definitely earned your stripes.
You are already doing an incredible job. Keep going.