It was like walking into a fairytale. Creamy organza hung extravagantly throughout the ornate church interlaced with fragrant white roses and baby’s breath. The wedding program itself was a masterpiece printed in gold letters on thick artisan paper. No expense was spared, that was clear the minute I walked in. From start to finish, this was the wedding du jour, followed by a no holds barred reception held at the most elite country club in town complete with a 9 piece band and prime rib. I was mesmerized. And under dressed.
Sadly, within three short years, the fantasy had unraveled and once again, my friends were single agents, divorced and on the prowl.
It’s becoming more and more clear as the divorce rate continues to soar, that it really isn’t about the wedding. It’s about the marriage. But what keeps scratching my brain is how this analogy so accurately applies to the raising of our kids.
If there’s anything comparable to a wedding when it comes to having children, it’s the birth. I had no idea of this fact until I was pregnant with my first child and the questions began.
“Are you going to have the baby at home or in a hospital?” “Did you write out your birth plan?” “Are you going to do it naturally or have an epidural?” “Are you going to give birth in a tub?” “Are you going to schedule the birth?” “Are you going to have a C-section?” “Are you going to do hypno-birth?” “Are you going to eat the placenta?” (Yes, that’s really a thing) And on and on…
Like the wedding, the birth is the grand ceremony, the great induction into this world, the start of a beautiful life together. It’s no wonder it can end up feeling overwhelmingly important, a yardstick by which moms tend to compare themselves and each other.
Now, I’m not throwing shade on the birthing process. People have their convictions about what’s best for Mom and baby – and more power to them to pursue that. All I ask is that we keep perspective and show grace to those who choose differently than us. Because let’s face it, the real work begins when you take that child home. Those remaining 6,569 days spent raising your kid are what will help shape them into the compassionate, kind, contributing, thinking individual he or she becomes… or not.
I once read a gift shop plaque that said “I was such a good parent before I had kids” and I laughed out loud at the truth of it. We all go into parenthood with the very best of intentions and kids tend to ruin them all.
The truth is, being a really good parent is hard. It is a daily, hourly, sometimes minute-by-minute commitment to this thing you signed up for and had no idea you signed up for. There are no days off. There are not even any lunch breaks.
The birth, like the wedding, is just one really amazing day. The remaining days of child-rearing and parenting, like marriage, are the rest of your blessed life and also where all that love you felt on that first amazing day gets lived out, drop by drop.
So have that extravagantly orchestrated birth if you like, but don’t get bogged down by the details, and don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go as planned. Remember that it is only one day in a long journey and that, like marriage, living out your commitment to be the best, most loving, patient and kind parent you can be to your sweet little peanut, is what really matters in the end.