There’s no way I’m ever going to be able to do this

by Ginger on July 29, 2009

in Mom Thoughts, Oh Baby!

Like every other teenager in the world, I couldn’t wait to start driving. I couldn’t wait for that very obvious sign of maturity, self-reliance, and freedom. I knew my parents couldn’t wait either–they were tired of schlepping me all over creation for my events, and I also knew they’d use me to run errands for the house. I didn’t care, as long as I could drive myself, I was stoked.

Because of where I grew up (in a town that bordered another state), some of the people I went to high school with were able to get their drivers licenses a year earlier than the rest of us. Of course, those people became VERY popular at school, and a friend of mine who got her license early was no exception. She became the de facto chauffeur for group outings–we loved even the touch of freedom that someone else having a car gave us.

One day, she was giving me a ride somewhere–it was just the two of us in the car, so I was able to really observe her while she drove. And I remember sitting in that passenger seat, freaking out internally, because all of a sudden from watching her, I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to drive on my own.  I had no idea how she was remembering everything that needed to be done to get that car from point A to point b. I mean, she was talking to me, but at the same time her feet were moving and her hands were moving, and she had to watch the road, and holy hell, how do you remember the blinker, and crap, how is she not totally focused on her feet, and….I was overwhelmed by all the little movements of driving. I had never really paid attention before that day, but I remember specifically watching her feet as she drove and thinking to myself: “There’s no way I’m ever going to be able to do this.”

Of course, once I started learning to drive myself I was fine. I realized that it becomes sort of muscle memory–all these things seem crazy complicated before you do them a hundred times a day, but then they’re second nature. Even when I eventually learned to drive stick, adding another layer of complexity to the driving ritual, it eventually becomes just that–a ritual. Rote. Something that you know how to do without even thinking about how to do it.

So why tell you this silly story? I think this sums up my thoughts right now about becoming a parent. People keep asking me if I’m ready. If I’m prepared. And right now, I feel like that teenager who thought “there’s no way I’m ever going to be able to do this.” I see parents with kids everywhere (since moving to the honest to goodness suburbs that’s even truer than ever), and I think, how are they doing that, and watching the kid, and getting their stuff done, and having a conversation, while dealing with the baby, and ahhhhh, I’m not going to be able to do all that. How can I possibly be in charge of another human life, I can’t even figure out how these parents are feeding their kid and having a normal conversation at the same time!

But the logical part of me, and the part that has been around kids before, and has a grasp on reality (ha!) knows that with time, it becomes just a part of your daily life. Those actions become second nature. They become routine, or at the bare minimum, you get a grasp on how things work enough to know how to handle them. You still deal with weird days and actions that aren’t normal, but the day to day interaction with your kid isn’t this big scary thing once you’re in it and have some “muscle memory” if you will. You learn how to feed the baby and talk at the same time (right?).

Obviously, as I get closer and closer to my due date (just about a month left to go!), these thoughts are in my head more and more. I don’t know that you can ever be fully prepared for life with a baby in particular, so I’m trying to keep in mind that just like that girl I was 15 years ago–I’ll figure it out when it’s my turn.

Alexis July 30, 2009 at 4:14 am

I won’t sugar-coat how hard being a parent can be, too many people do that then are surprised when new parents are just reeling for the first few days. However, I will say the learning curve is staggering and withing weeks, often even days (or hours for true over-achievers…not me), you find yourself totally just doing it. Like it is nothing to be feeding a baby while sipping some water and reading a book propped up on the sofa arm.

Without getting too groovy here, just remember to breathe. It will all get done and the eternity it seems to be taking you to change a diaper, find the wipes and so on, is really more like 45 seconds and no one around you even thinks you are struggling!

You will do great!

Ali July 30, 2009 at 9:15 am

I love the comparison, I really do. Because it makes total sense!

And while I have absolutely nooo parenting background, I can tell you that I agree with everything you said: that it’s something you learn (most likely as you go!) and grow accustomed to. You sound like you’re going to be a fantastic mom.

-A

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