A while ago, a friend confided that he and his wife were thinking about having kids, and asked me what parenting was like.
“It’s pretty much everything you expect it to be, except ten times worse,” I joked in my standard sarcasm. He laughed along with everyone else in our group setting, but pulled me aside later and asked if I really thought that.
My dark and at times nihilistic humor is basically a coping mechanism that I hide behind, but no, I don’t really think that. I explained that while there are definitely aspects of parenting that aren’t ideal, or what you expect, the trade off is an amazing kid (or however many you have!) whom you get the privilege of loving and guiding through life, and there is truly no accurate way to describe the depth of love like what I have for my children.
Fast forward a little…
My surprise third pregnancy came with a wild turmoil of emotions. To say the least, it took a while to come to terms with the unexpected way our lives were heading, and there are still some days that I have to remind myself that this is our reality now! For a long time, all I could think about were the negatives, all the challenges we’d be facing, all the things we were completely unprepared for.
In the midst of working through these feelings, I was at a birthday party for my oldest’s son’s classmate, watching all the preschoolers going crazy in a bounce house. My son’s teacher from the previous year was also in attendance, and she and I had a few moments to chat while the kids enjoyed the party.
“Do you know what the baby is?” she asked, a question I hear multiple times a day.
“Another boy. Our third boy,” I told her. We had only found out very recently, and knowing we were having a third boy was yet another element I was struggling to reconcile my reality with.
“We raised three boys too,” the teacher told me, then motioned for her husband to come over and join us. I had never met him before. “This is Benjamin’s mom. She’s about to have her third boy.”
Usually, when I tell people we’re having a third boy, I get a full range of reactions: people are disappointed for us; people are quick to tell me how hectic, loud, rough, hard, etc., my life is going to be; people want to know (while I’m still pregnant!) if we will be “trying for a girl” next. But the man who approached us looked at me with so much tenderness and said as if he knew all the other things people had told me:
“Three boys? We did it. It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be fun.”
He said it so calmly, so gently, not in a manner of trying to convince me of anything, but just an observation shared from one parent to another. He was the first person to tell me that raising my boys would be fun.
Right there at the birthday party, my eyes filled with tears (thank you, pregnancy hormones), and I had to take a moment to compose myself. I was so grateful that someone took the time to tell me that it would be fun, instead of seriously or jokingly focusing on only the hard parts, the way I had with my friend.
Parenthood isn’t all fun, but it definitely isn’t all bad. Sometimes I get so caught up in the hard parts that I forget to be grateful for the joy that’s woven throughout our parenting journey. It doesn’t necessarily make the difficult parts any easier, but it’s there. I definitely needed a reminder– and if you do, too, I hope this serves as one. It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be fun.