I ran into a very interesting fan page on Facebook called “Ready to Be a Wife.” It’s the companion page to the website of the same name, in which Christine Pembleton is offering her perspective on why some women are single and what they can do to better prepare themselves for marriage in the future. Now, I only glanced at her writings and videos and I don’t have intimate knowledge of this sister’s position, so I in no way intend to bash or condone what she has to say. In fact, I like that she’s inviting women to consider some things that may help them recognize the right one and be a good wife once they do get married. It’s encouraging to see people thinking about these things before they take the stroll down Matrimony Lane. In both physical and marital health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
But it got me to thinking (as do most things): How much can one really prepare for marriage and parenthood? I am a huge proponent of pre-marital counseling and childbirth/parenting classes. I believe any morsel of knowledge you can gain before stepping into a new season in your life can only serve to help you down the road. But I submit just a few things about marriage and parenting for which the classes were simply unequipped to prepare me:
I never knew how hard it would be for me to be in a true partnership. Listen, I was an only child growing up. Furthermore, left my parents’ house to go to college at age 17 and I never looked back. I’m very much the I-can-do-it-myself type. For years I was used to being on my own, paying my own bills, and basically doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. When I got married, I suddenly had to get used to considering someone else in every decision I made. Additionally, I had to reel myself back in whenever I wanted to go kamikaze on financial decisions, and even on decorating choices. I had to learn – and am still learning – that my husband isn’t an accessory to my life who’s just coming along for the ride. We’re partners, which means we walk together or we don’t’ walk at all. And yes, the premarital classes gave us some pointers on how to do this successfully, but putting it into practice is much easier said than done, especially for someone like me.
I had no idea how physically and emotionally draining it would be to have to repeatedly get up in the middle of the night with a new baby. When our daughter was brand spanking new, I would joke about how sorry I was for every time I ever said I was “tired” before I became a mom. Let me tell you something, you don’t know “tired” until you have a child. You and “tired” have never even met. You might have passed each other on the street occasionally, but you were never formally introduced. That specific kind of tired is not of this world. It’s special – unique, even. At about 9pm every night I would get this sense of dread, knowing that my body was fully ready to go to sleep but it wouldn’t be able to, at least not without interruption. When she finally did start sleeping through the night at about 3 ½ months old, I had never been more thankful for anything in my life. I think I might have even done a cartwheel.
Nobody really prepared me for the frustration of “mommy brain.” Once upon a time I was intellectually brilliant… BRILLIANT, I tell you! During pregnancy, I became Kelly Bundy – with a larger midsection. I don’t care what anyone says, that thing is REAL and it can be very scary. I now have a lot more sympathy for moms who inadvertently lock their keys in the car with the baby still in the back seat. I was über paranoid that I would do something similar.
Conversely, nobody could really prepare me for the immense wealth of knowledge concerning my baby I’d be able to recall at the drop of a dime. Some days I could barely remember how to tie my shoelaces, but I knew when the baby’s last bowel movement was (and could probably accurately guess the volume if you pressed me), what kind of remedy to use on every little ailment, and what each cry meant. I was able to pinpoint with GPS accuracy exactly how long it would take me to get to the babysitter, stop for coffee, and still be at work on time. Maybe I didn’t know much else, but I knew how to be a mother, darnit!
For someone who absolutely hated dating when she was single, I never knew how much I’d come to love and cherish the sporadic dates my husband and I now have.
No one told me that in these roles I’d often have to temper livid irritation with loving compassion or that it would come so naturally after a while.
Nobody explained to me that loving someone is as much about what you let them do for you as it is what you’re able to do for them.
Everyone failed to tell me how much I’d grow spiritually and personally as a result of being someone’s wife and mother. Nowhere – not even in my career or my dealings with friends – have all the character lessons from kindergarten and Sunday school come into play as much as in my marriage and my mothering.
I guess the answer to my question is that you can prepare quite extensively to be a wife and a mom, but ultimately you will have to rely on faith to fill in the blanks. You’ll never learn all that you can know. Instead, you’ll find that you’re learning all you need to know – at least for the time being.
What about marriage and/or parenting did you feel you were under-prepared for? What caught you off guard?9 Comments