Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How Do You Know?

I post on a message board frequented by women of all ages and all backgrounds, and it’s always fascinating to me how such different people often have such similar concerns and problems. One of the topics that comes up on a regular basis is how to know when you’re ready to make a major life change, like getting married, changing jobs, or having a baby. Just today another poster was sharing her concerns over whether she and her husband were ready to start a family. Having a child is one of the biggest decisions you can make in life. It’s possible to change jobs or even to change spouses, but once you’re a parent, you’re always a parent. You can’t go back on parenthood.

It made me think about my own decision to have children. I knew what a huge decision it was, and I knew at a certain level how much it would change my life. And part of me was terrified that I wouldn’t be good at motherhood, or that I would hate it. But then I asked myself what else in my life I had done that was scary at first, or challenging, but turned out to be exciting and fulfilling. Going to college, choosing a career path, changing jobs, and getting married all came to mind. These were all big decisions that made me quake in my boots because I knew that the decision I made would change my life. Or because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle the responsibility. And even after I made some of those decisions, I had moments of, "What was I THINKING??" But the vast majority of the time, I knew, deep in my heart of hearts, that I had made the right decision.

Parenthood is like that. You have moments (or even days) when you feel like you're totally unprepared and in over your head. But there are lots more moments when you are so proud of yourself and so secure that even if you screw up now and then (as every parent does) you know that your kids will grow up to be pretty awesome human beings. No-one is ever truly, 100% ready to be a parent. But when the thought of having a child brings more excitement than it does trepidation, you'll know you're as ready as you'll ever be. And that really is enough.

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