By Lyne Hamel
When I was pregnant with my son, I met a friend for lunch. She hugged me, stepped back, looked over my growing belly, then asked me how I was “weathering” through the nine months. I laughed as I told her that I’d only thrown up once and that had been when I went deep sea fishing to interview the captain of the boat, so it really didn’t count.
“No problems, just sleeping a lot”, I said.
“Just wait and see”, she said. “When that baby’s born, sleep will be a sweet memory.” I smiled and told her that after seventeen years in a relationship without children, I was aware that there would be adjustments to make, but I was willing to make them. She laughed at me. I changed the subject.
When Eddie was born, I wouldn’t let the nurse take him to the nursery. I wanted him with me. He spent most of our stay sleeping on my chest. We’d doze for a while then wake up and breast-feed. Doze and feed. Doze and feed. Caring for him secured a strong connection between the two of us and helped prepare us for what lay ahead when we left the hospital. Everyday living!
“Just wait until you get home,” the nurse warned. “He’ll be fussy if he’s not sleeping with you.”
“We’ve just met,” I teased. “I was hoping to take it one day at a time.”
The first night home Eddie slept in his bassinet. He slept for five hours before waking for a feeding.
Months later a man at the store asked me how old Eddie was.
“Ten months old,” I said proudly.
“Just wait until he’s old enough to ask for money,” he said sarcastically.
“Just wait until he’s running.” I’d hear in passing, as he held my hand and carefully practiced walking.
This “just wait and see” advice was everywhere.
“Just wait until he’s talking.”
“Just wait until he has nightmares.”
“Just wait until he refuses to eat.”
“Just wait until he’s dating.”
“Just wait until he’s driving.”
Just wait a minute! What am I waiting for and what happens then? Did “just wait” imply that I’d be sorry when the “just wait” happened? Did it mean that I was going to be miserable sooner or later so I better just wipe that happy to be a parent smile off my face right now and get down to the matter of being tortured and join the club?
As time passed I’d hear a “just wait” statement and cringe as I’d turn to face the voice with a set smile and no response. What could I say to these people; who as I saw it, apparently felt bitter about some child in their lives.
I wondered how we’d like it if our children came into the world armed with their own set of just waits to hang on us. Just wait until your parents say no. Just wait until your mom embarrasses you in public. Just wait until you have to earn your allowance. We’re lucky that our children don’t speak our language when they’re born. If they compared notes with their siblings, they’d most likely beg to be sent back to the dimension they came from.
It’s been six years since Eddie was born. We’ve had many opportunities to learn new things together. When he started to run, I found I could keep him in sight. I will confess that I bought him a pair of shoes that flashed a red light when he ran. He loved them and I could see which way he went at night. When he started to talk and talk and talk, I listen and smiled to myself remembering the “just wait” regarding speech. Non stop at times, but then so do I.
Nightmares show up from time to time. I’ve found him weeping in bed, still asleep, so I hold him until he can sleep peacefully again. If he’s been woken by a dream, he just shows up at the side of my bed. He climbs in and feels comforted not to be alone. Twenty minutes later I take him back to his bed. That “just wait” takes some understanding. Loss of sleep, and a bit of snuggling to get through, but it’s very do-able.
Refusing to eat has been interesting, but we’ve spoken about balance in his body since he was very young and so far we’ve made it through each mealtime with vegetable getting eaten and no one feeling worse for wear.
Dating and driving? We’ll get there.
But wait, there’s more. I was given the standard “just wait and sees” regarding another child. All my good luck and positive attitude was based on having one child. Our son Aaron was born and once again he stayed with me until we went home. I knew adjustment would come with another child, but I really had no idea. The only common thing that he shares with our first born has been his looks and the fact that he slept for five hours the first night home. Nothing else has been the same and our lives have been altered to a new reality. Aaron’s reality! I still feel lucky and have not jumped on the “just wait and see” bandwagon and don’t plan on doing so any time in the future.
You see, there have been many lessons in raising my sons and days I’d like to throw back like a fish. I believe it’s working well because I’ve surrendered into parenthood
and consider it my best work, right now. I’ve approached each situation acknowledging my own stuff, my own fears, rather than expecting my children to be better than me. Knowing that what I do is what they learn not what I say to do, then showing them that I can’t achieve it but expect them to.
The real prize is that it’s never too late to begin. Eddie and Aaron are the children of an evolving mom. Come to think of it, I probably owe the “just waiters” a word of thanks. In my effort to understand the reason behind their comments I’ve come to know my life as a parent is a constant exercise in thinking before speaking. Responding instead of reacting. Getting to know myself and be willing to make choices that lead me and my children toward our true and best us.
Not long ago I was speaking in a woman’s group about Eddie and our learning experiences, when one of the ladies said, “just wait until he comes home after being away for a few years, throws his arms around you and says thank you for being my mom.”
Now that’s a “just wait” I’m willing to wait for.