This year Jen and I and a few members from our community wrote "This I Believe" essays. It's a segment on NPR for the people who have no idea what I'm talking about. Anyway, since both our essays have to do with parenting, I thought I would post them. Today you get mine, later, Jen's.
This I Believe
I believe in the power of a baby’s smile.
Cheesy, I know, but I didn’t know about this power 6 months ago.
Deciding to become a parent is a leap of faith. Anyone who thinks that they will be fine navigating these uncharted waters; that the universe will provide all of the answers and skills when the time comes is an arrogant idiot. Believe me. It takes one to know one.
Living life as a first time parent is unexpectedly infuriating. Not because the little one is puking, or crying, or pooping at all the wrong times. In fact it has nothing to do with my daughter and everything to do with me.
Its disappointment and fear in the middle of the night when she’s crying uncontrollably and I simply can’t wake up mommy one more time because I don’t have all the answers. She has few needs now and I can’t cut it. What happens when her needs become more complex? It’s the sense of powerlessness that I can’t control this situation. No matter how hard I try, how smart or creative I am, I cannot control what is happening.
Worse, in these sleepless moments late at night, pacing the house, feeling betrayed by everyone who ever told you that you could do this (that you’d even be GOOD at it), you realize that old demons you thought were put to rest for good now rise up, look you straight in the eye and say, “You are not done with me yet.” Now I can really feel the defeat. Not only are you not good enough in this moment, but all this time I thought I was different, better, I was wrong.
And then, well past cracking, when I’m already broken, I get a smile.
So far I have seen three different kinds of smiles. The first is the “HEY! I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN LIKE FOREVER!” smile. The second is the “I’m so shy I have to hide my face” smile. And the last is the “You don’t have to worry anymore, I like you” smile. That’s my favorite smile. “I like you.”
In that smile, I get to see that I don’t have to have everything taken care of by myself. She has everything that I don’t have: the hope, faith, and optimism. And I have everything that she doesn't have: the bottle, clean diapers, and money for a tiny pair of shin guards. We complement each other. l don’t have to have all the answers and skills. The universe does provide you with what you need.
I believe that the challenge and the support come in the same package.
I believe that when I am searching for answers and doubting myself, all I really need is an “I like you smile.”