Friday, September 21, 2007

What Else do I Have to Learn?

Monica and James both made comments that must have been ripe for the considering. While thinking about what may be in store for us that might lead to having kids not being the best decision ever, I started to think about all this in a slightly different sort of way.

Life is a journey. Every experience you have gives you new perspective on the world around you, and helps you develop new skills that might come in handy with future experiences. There are certainly things I've done that I know I couldn't have done as well without X having happened before Y to teach me something in particular. There is definitely a desirable order to some experiences, and it's nice if things go in that direction.

So, what is the X that is supposed to happen before my Y of having kids? (Ha -- get it? Xs and Ys? Maybe it's only funny to me.) What sorts of experiences am I supposed to have (or is my husband supposed to have) in order to better prepare us for the crazy world of parenthood? Since I have no way of seeing into his brain, I'll just focus on myself. Here are the main skillsets I can see that I could use some work on pre-kids.

Patience. Couldn't we all get better at this one? My relationship with my husband has taught be quite a bit of this over the years and my sister living with us taught me how to push the limits of what I can tolerate. I am currently lightyears ahead of where I was ten years ago, but that's not really saying much. I do think I am slower to get angry than I used to be, but I'm also just slower than I used to be. I could use a little reminder to count to 10 before getting angry every once in a while.

House Maintenance. I've never been a great, or even middling, housekeeper. Dishes stack up for days. Laundry isn't always done until there are no clothes to wear. Toilets start to grow moldy, fungusy things. The refrigerator does, too. Go figure, since one of my dad's favorite sayings while I was growing up was "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." Pthbbt. Whatever. It's just never been a really high priority for me. I do clean when I know someone's coming over, and I am capable of doing the work, it's just not the first thing I do when I finish my workday, and sometimes it piles up. Living in this house that has to be kept clean for showings does help, and I'm starting to like having the house clean for us, and not just for company. Hopefully, I can keep that going if the house isn't on the market and will have learned something new. If not, I figure a messy house leads to stronger immune systems. Or I can find any other justification I need.

Sleep-Deprived Functioning. This is probably the biggest one for me right now. The thought of the first few months of nearly total sleep deprivation is a little scary. I'm a girl that really likes her 8-9 hours of sleep each night. I also like a weekend nap if I can get it in. I know in my head that when I'm exercising I can get by on less sleep, so maybe that will come into play, and I fully intend to sleep whenever I can with a little one to avoid issues if at all possible. Sleep deprivation is one of those things that depletes patience faster than anything. Not sure how else to try to teach myself these skills. A deathbed watch doesn't sound like a lot of fun. I'm not going back to school to have to pull all-nighters (those didn't work out well in college, either). Maybe I just have to exercise more so I'm in better shape and ready to take on whatever is thrown at me.

Those of you that are parents, maybe you can relate some things that you see now that you had to learn before you became a parent. I'd be interested to look for other opportunities to learn the skills that would come in handy for the fun that could lie ahead.


rev_justin said...

In my experience, there is nothing that will ever get you "ready" for parenthood except being an a parent. Sounds paradoxical, I know, but the one variable that no one can predict is the actual child. You can get every duck in every row, but you just don't know what the situation really is until that baby pops out. And then it changes the next day. And the day after that, etc, etc.

I never intended to have children, but the universe had different ideas for me. That was two kids ago, so despite my complete lack of readiness, something must have clicked into place. Parenthood is not "easy", but it's also not that hard really. Kids don't care how clean a house is or how much money is in the bank, and they have an amazing capacity to love even some of the most imperfect people (my kids like me well enough). What matters to them is that you love them. Then all the other stuff falls into place.

Not to say that you shouldn't try working on the things you want to work on. That is always a noble goal.

Heather said...

Thanks for the comment, you wise parent you (and don't you mean *three* kids ago? Have you forgotten one of them?). I know there's a lot of just handling the unexpected and adjusting to what they throw at you, but I'm trying here. Trying to make sense of the nonsensical, and trying to find something to do to keep me occupied while I can't do anything.

rev_justin said...

You must realize by now that

a) I am bad at math
b) you are awesome.

Heather said...

Thanks, RJ -- you're too kind. And I know you'll be better at math when the sleep deprivation from the latest addition gets better.