I’m not a mother. I don’t have kids of my own. But – I’m a primary school teacher, so most of the time I feel like I do have kids of my own, and when school is in session I technically spend more waking hours with them than their parents. Those very hours in the past three years have taught me so much about what it means to raise children. About all the joys and all the pitfalls. About all the things you should consider before deciding that you are ready for venturing into the adventure that is parenthood.
So. Are you ready?
Are you ready to say ’no’ a thousand times a day and feel like the most unpopular person on the planet?
Are you ready to feel as tired and drained as humanly possible and wondering why the hell you’ve gotten yourself into this?
Are you ready for your life’s focus to shift entirely? Away from you, the person who can’t keep a simple house plant alive, to little people who depend on you for their physical and emotional well-being?
Are you ready to accept that, despite you being smart and strong and capable, you won’t be able to do this on your own? From my experience, it really does take a village to raise a child. I could not be doing what I’m doing without the support of my colleagues. We keep each other’s spirits high and remind each other why we chose this profession. Sometimes, someone else needs to swoop in and pick up the slack. And that’s ok.
Are you ready to make mistake after mistake after mistake? And even more important: Are you ready to apologize for them to your children? The mistakes you make aren’t the real problem. Not apologizing for them is.
Are you ready for the problems your children are inevitably going to face? Brace yourself. No child is perfect, no matter how hard you wish for it. With a classroom full of kids, I get to see all the individual issues they are dealing with. You are going to worry and you are going to have sleepless nights more often than you might have anticipated.
Are you ready to do anything you can to help them with anything they need, but sometimes still feel like you’re failing? Like you aren’t doing anything right and that you’re not good for them at all? I’ve come to believe that’s normal. It shows how much you care and that you are willing to question yourself and trying to be a better person, for them.
Are you ready to explain to them all the horrors that happen in this world, done by people? And are you ready to make them feel safe nonetheless?
Are you ready to love, yes, unconditionally? To let your children know that whatever happens or whatever they chose to do or become, they will always be welcome in your house and arms and always be supported?
Are you ready to see them grow up and change, and eventually let them go out into the world? Like Kahlil Gibran said wisely, children don’t belong to you and aren’t yours to keep. All we can do is helping them create the best possible foundation they are going to stand on for the rest of their lives, built from humanity, kindness, and the belief that they can be anything they want to be.
So. Are you ready?
I’ll tell you what I think: You won’t ever be entirely ’ready’. Raising kids is like jumping on a moving train. All you can do is hold on tight and do your best. Sometimes, it’ll go so fast, you’ll consider just letting go. Sometimes, the train will go slow and you’ll enjoy the view. It’s then that you’ll be able to do two things: Looking back on everything you’ve achieved, together. And looking ahead at all the wonderful moments yet to come.