There are many question to ask yourself right before having a baby.
Am I ready? Do we have enough money? Do I love my partner enough to make this commitment with them? Will I be a good parent? Will I screw it all up?
But there's only one question that really matters. But before I tell you that, I have to tell you this...
I was in my mid-twenties, had already met and married my one true love (crazy, right? We were lucky) and we were thinking about next steps. We both wanted to make a baby. We wanted to be young parents and felt compelled to take the next step into parenthood.
I was riding the train into work with my brother-in-law. He and my sister had two children and were older and wiser, so I asked him, "How did you know you were ready?" He thought a while, and then said something so simple. He said, "We knew we were ready to share our love."
Now, my brother-in-law is Austrian, and so I was at first confused at his phrasing, "share our love." It sounded sweet and abstract. I thought about it and felt, "Yeah, I guess we're ready to do that too".
Fast-forward seven years and three kids later and I TOTALLY get what "we were ready to share our love" meant:
1. We were ready to share our love physically
The baby is part of you when you're pregnant and then on you 24/7. Holding, nursing, napping... that baby is there. You better be ready to share your love physically, because that's what they need. I remember the doctor telling us that the baby would need "skin touch" time. Just to be able to feel his belly skin right up next to mine or daddy's would calm him and help us all bond and grow together. The baby also needed time on his belly to develop his neck muscles. One day, I said to my hubby, "He needs some tummy time," and he was like "Ok!" and started taking off his shirt in the living room. "Not that kind!" I said, and we laughed at our newness. Your body is not your own when you have a baby. It's home, it's nourishment, it's a bed and it's comfort. You need to be open to sharing that kind of physical love and know that showers, going to the bathroom, walking from room to room or sleeping at night may all be done with a little sidekick in tow. If you're ready for that, then you're ready for your baby.
2. We were ready to share our love emotionally
Once that little guy came, we worried about him, celebrated him, loved him and went crazy because of him. The emotions were higher and lower than they ever had been before. We needed to share the time and attention we used to pour on each other onto our little guy. We loved it, but admittedly, sometimes it left us without enough enthusiasm, empathy or interest in each other. We were sharing our love emotionally and over time we learned how to do that better. If you are ready to share your attention and interest in each other towards something else, then you're ready to have your baby.
3. We were ready to share our love among family
Another "sharing" we realized later was that of family. Once we brought a grandchild into the world, we realized that this baby boy was not just for us to enjoy, but for a whole generation above us to enjoy, too. We shared our love for the baby with them, and let them love him too. This was maybe one of the most surprising things for me to discover, how much love and healing I could feel when watching my mother or father love my kids. Also, I was surprised at how much having a child made me confront my childhood, my parents parenting and my own fears of repeating the past. We go through our past to get to our futures, and so these family ties are important in many ways when creating a family of your own.
So,in response to the question, "Are you ready to share your love?", Are you ready to share it physically, emotionally and among family? Because that's what bringing a baby into your life asks of you. It's nothing personal when it's been a long day and there's no physical love left to share between the two of you; it's nothing personal when you're so interested in what your little guy ate that day but not as interested in hubby's story about work; and it's not personal when your mother-in-law gives advice and wants to spoil her grandson. It's all a part of being ready to share your love for each other, split it three ways instead of two, and be OK if the piece looks a little smaller at first.
Over time, you find that the love isn't split into three, it's multiplied by three, and that sharing isn't sharing anymore; it's a way of life that is so natural, beautiful and fulfilling that you can't imagine any other way.
This is the most important question, because it's the one that helps you to know what is really going to be asked of you and what will matter most. Can you afford it? Will the baby be healthy? Will I be a good mom/dad? Yes, those questions will come to mind and many more, but "are you ready to love and share yourself and your life?" -- that's the question to ask yourself. If the answer is no, then take time to nourish yourself, your relationship, and your family ties until you feel more solid and ready to share your love.
If the answer is yes, then congratulations, you are ready to have a baby.
This article originally appeared on winthekids.com | A Marketing Mom's Solution to Parenting
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