I remember people telling me when I was engaged to get married that you were never “ready” to get married. They said the same thing about parenthood. They, whoever they are, are probably right. You may not ever be ready, but you can be prepared. A year ago me and Dawn were in the slow process of readying ourselves for the baby who is Bryce.
So, reflecting on some of the grand experiences of having a newly born boy in my house, I offer the following checklist for you who are preparing for something or someone that promises to change your life. Maybe not a baby. Myabe a new job or life after a breakup. I’m writing, thinking about prepping for a baby but I suppose you can read this a view toward preparing for anything:
1) Consider why you want one of these people in your home. Really. Why do you want that job? Or that baby? Of course, some people wouldn’t necessarily say they want a baby. They may just get one. It’s helpful to know your reasons, whatever they are. Sometimes the reasons sustain you at two in the morning when you haven’t slept because of you-know-who or you know what in the case of a new job or a new life as a student. Or when you’ve changed seven diapers with increasing amounts of baby waste, all in varying shades of green, brown, purple, and gray.
2) Start a list of reminders of life before the baby. I believe that life should be lived in the moment. Life is now. But life now is informed and shaped by what we’ve done and what we’re looking to do. New parents need to remember what life was so that we are able to do what the wise mentor of mine, Johnathan Alvarado, says, integrate a child into the life you have and not build your life around a child.
3) Develop ideas on what you’d do if a sitter magically appeared. One way of thinking about this is to consider how you’d take a break, how you’d relax. Friends might call. Relatives may become spontaneously generous. Of course, you won’t leave your kid with everybody. You won’t even leave the child with every relative. But if those people on the parentally approved Post-It came along, what would you do if you had an hour or three? Know this because God might send someone or someones to provide you respite. I have my list. It’s developing into a seasonally adaptive list, too. So, if you’re on my Post-It (and you know who you are), I’m ready already for your call!
4) Make a list of all your friends. Then, send them an email, or better, call them. Have a nice conversation for as long as you can. And end the conversation with something along the language of, “I enjoyed this, loved this. If we don’t do it again in a few years, don’t take it personally.” The truth is you will have to make an effort to keep those special people around. You won’t have the energy to be friends. You’ll hardly have energy to go to work. Or to brush your teeth. You’ll give yourself over to that child. I imagine starting a job is like this. You give all you are to it.