I watched the movie "Juno" this weekend. There's a scene where Jennifer Affleck and Jason Bateman's characters have a conversation about whether or not they are ready to be parents.
I've witnessed this conversation in real life. In fact, I had this conversation with my husband before we decided to start a family. It went like this, "We have jobs. We have somewhere to live. We know how to hold a baby, and feed a baby, and dress a baby, and play with a baby. We're totally ready."
What a couple of idiots.
We may have understood the basics of childcare, but we were in NO WAY prepared to be parents. Hell. I've been a parent for almost 13 years and I'm still not ready.
You can read all of the parenting books and attend all of the parenting classes and listen to all the advice of your friends and parents and grandparents, and still not be prepared for...
Calling to check on your infant soon after returning to work only to hear them crying in the background. Then looking down to see giant circles of milk leaking on to your shirt. And you have a staff meeting in 5 minutes.
Leaving a full cart in the middle of the grocery store because your toddler puked all over you. And aisle 3.
Holding down a sick child to give them breathing treatments. Every 4 hours. Around the clock.
Watching your child throw themselves on the ground and have a tantrum right in the middle of the mall. And talking yourself out of leaving them there.
Counting number of poops. Cleaning up poop. Touching poop. Finding poop. Ohmygodsomuchpoop.
PBS Kids and the Disney Channel. ALL. DAY. LONG.
Cleaning puke out of a 5-point carseat. With travel-sized tissues. Because you're out running errands. And you forgot to pack EVERYTHING IN YOUR HOUSE.
Staying up all night in an emergency room because your 2 year-old can't breathe.
Listening, helpless, to your child scream as they try to find a vein for an IV because she's dehydrated. And realizing you would do anything in the world to just trade places with her.
Family portraits in black crayon on newly painted pink bedroom walls. Or carvings into expensive dining room tables. And chairs.
Taking care of a baby that has a stomach virus. And you have it, too.
Holding your breath after dropping your kid off at school because once on a Friday morning in December, some parents in Connecticut said good-bye for the last time. And not a day goes by that it doesn't cross your mind as you watch them walk away.
The guilt. Ohmygodsomuchguilt.
Consoling your crying child over hurt feelings. And trying not to cry yourself because you remember.
The fear of failing.
But mostly? Mostly I wasn't prepared for a love so big and encompassing and unconditional that it's as if I'm wearing my heart on the outside of my body. Forever.