When one is on the verge of a big life change, it’s easy to shy away from the enormity of it all because it feels too scary, too overwhelming. It’s all so unknown. We think, “If I knew what I was walking into, I’d more willingly go.” Yet, big life changes (like life in general) don’t come with a crystal ball.
For a while now I’ve been thinking about this in the context of preparing for parenthood. I can remember saying, in the first few months of motherhood, “It’s no joke when they say there’s no way to prepare for this.” Yet, over the past 3 years, I can see how I actually was more prepared than I thought. I’d had a somewhat decent meditation practice going so knew the power of mindfulness. I worked as an Infant Mental Health Specialist, so knew about attachment and general child development. I’d had years in therapy and some solid friendships, people I could be completely honest with about my experience (once I was honest with myself about it).
My daughter is 3 now and I can more clearly see what a shit job our society does in helping prospective parents prepare for the biggest change in their lives. It’s not that it’s a total shit job – it’s important to know how the baby is developing and how to stay healthy and to prepare a space for this new being in your life. But, in my opinion, what’s missing from this education is all things important: how to stay present; how to be comfortable with the unknown; how to have conversations with your partner about your expectations, thoughts, and feelings. We don’t give future parents the tools they will really need. The tools that will help them keep their sanity and become the parents their children need them to be. The tools for life, really.
So, this is where I let you know that I’m this person attempting to teach these things to people. I feel so strongly about having these conversations that I could nearly cry. I feel so strongly that preparing for parenthood is NOT ONLY about preparing the nursery and making sure you eat well. Instead, I believe preparing for parenthood needs to include:
- Getting clear on what your expectations are from yourself, your partner, your child, your experience, your friends and family, etc.
- Connecting to your own needs. The ways in which you meet your needs will likely change in parenthood, but what can stay is the mindset that your needs matter.
- Exploring your own childhood and sifting through what you want to bring with you into your own experience and what you hope to leave behind (and how to respond with self-compassion when you inevitably reenact some of what you hated about your own experience).
- Learning to be mindful. I believe mindfulness is the one tool all parents (and, really, people) should have. It helps with EVERYTHING.
In short, we fail, as a society and culture, to teach people how to prepare emotionally for parenthood. We have this Keep It Light Culture, meaning we don’t go deep easily. We don’t talk about the hard parts, the fears, the vulnerabilities. We especially don’t talk about it before someone is even a parent! And that’s when the support and education need to begin. So many people find themselves on the other side of pregnancy (meaning the baby has arrived) and slammed with fear, doubt, vulnerability, etc. (this was me).
I want that to end. I want people to walk into parenthood equipped with the tools they’ll actually need. The tools that can’t be bought; they can only be cultivated.
I can’t tell you what kind of parent you’ll be. I can’t tell you what kind of baby you’ll have. But, I can help you clear some of the muck out of the way that keeps you stuck in worry and believing whatever scenario your mind is throwing at you. I can help you learn to be mindful so you can more comfortably say, “I don’t know what it’s going to be like, and I don’t need to know. I’m okay being right where I’m at.” That’s the sweet spot.
***If you are in this place in your life, either preparing for pregnancy or are currently pregnant, and are in need of support, I have spots open for working together one-on-one. If interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and schedule a free 30-minute consultation. Also, if you know someone who might be interested, please pass this along!