I stared blankly back at the newborn nurse, who held a tiny diaper out for me; and it took her a moment to register that I didn’t have the slightest clue how to perform the task that she asked of me.
“Um, I don’t know how to do that, ma’am. Could you show me?”
So with a pitiful look of disgust, she taught this twenty-seven year old how to change a diaper. Welcome to parenthood, people.
Clueless doesn’t sufficiently describe my entrance into this parenting thing. Frankly, I wasn’t one of those girls who grew up dreaming of motherhood. In fact, I would have called that kind of dream a nightmare. From my perspective, babies were too needy, and toddlers just threw tantrums. Why would I want one of those?
Once (once) when I was in high school, I was asked to babysit for a seven year old boy, a five-ish year old girl, and their eighteen month old baby brother. Poor family.
Looking back, I’m sad that they had no idea that they were leaving their most precious treasures in the hands of a fifteen year old who had the childcare skills of a dimwit. They evidently missed the look of horror etched across my face as they strolled out the front door for the evening.
I’ve suppressed much of that evening to the dark recesses of my traumatic memory bank, except I do remember the part where I had to clean poop off the walls. That happened because I asked the seven year old to change the baby’s diaper since I was too afraid to do it myself. (Basically, not awesome.)
When the dad drove me home later that night, a ripe odor lingered in the car. I thought he had a stomachache or something, and he thought I must have stepped in dog poop. I realized once I got home and changed clothes that my shirt sported leftovers from the disaster I had cleaned off the bathroom wallpaper. (And good times were had by all.)
Thankfully, I think they lost my number. And I vowed to never, ever pursue a career as an au pair. Thus, that was the last taste of childcare that I experienced before my son was born.
When my friends had babies, I pretty much avoided them until their children were old enough to use complete sentences. Frankly, the dependence and vulnerability of a small child terrified me. And I knew enough from my babysitting failure that I was not cut out to be responsible for the welfare of a tiny human being. Which explains why, years later, I burst into panic-stricken tears when the labor and delivery nurse told me it was time check out of the hospital. Because, hello reality. Apparently they also wanted us to take this baby boy home. With us. For good. For…ever. With no nursery staff to hold my hand and tell me how to do it.
I cannot even describe the holy fear that filled our vehicle on the ten mile drive home from the hospital. All the blogs and books and how-to articles I had read over the last few months were a jumbled blur in my hormone-drunk brain.
The only preparedness I felt had to do with the organization of all our baby supplies. But then again, what good are diapers when you don’t know how to work them? (Seriously, bless my heart.)
Luke turned nine years old in December and I still have a holy fear when it comes to parenting. Mostly because I don’t carry an ounce of natural parenting wisdom within me.
Sure, I picked up the diapering skills pretty quickly; and I mastered the art of “No-no” when he toddled through the house like a tornado. But parenting is so much easier when they can’t talk back.
So like those sweet infants who once scared the living daylights out of me, I’m desperately dependent on God to provide everything I need to mother this child he gave to me.
I don’t know that I will ever be able to spell out 5 Perfect Parenting Tips. But if there’s been one single, tried-and-true, cost-effective method that saves the day every single time, it is prayer.
It’s a mother on her knees because she has no clue how to do this thing. Luke’s diet might not be preservative-free and nutrient dense, but he is definitely drenched in prayer. (I basically pray a lot that God will turn the pop-tarts into the vitamin equivalent of a spinach omelet. I’m only half-kidding.)
Sometimes I wish I approached all of life like I approach parenting. Because I’m wise enough to know that I am unsuited to do this mothering business on my own. So I do it with my face buried in the carpet as pleas fly up to heaven.
Since I’ve clearly made a strong case for you to consider me a parenting expert…I’ll refrain from offering you any practical recommendations on how to deal with picky eaters or something. I mean, pop-tarts and all…. Instead, I hope you will forever hold the image of a determined mother parenting on her knees; and I pray that you will parent with a holy wonder, steeped in awareness that you don’t have a clue, and that’s the best place to be.
Amy Dalke’s favorite obsession is helping you discover how awesome you really are in Christ. She inspires you to step out of the world’s mold, and to live into the one-of-a-kind shape God designed just for you.
She is a baseball mom, a Bible study teacher, and a wife who can’t cook. She has a tendency to be high strung (but is always working on that), and you see her every time you go to the coffee shop. (She’s the girl in line ahead of you with the obnoxious order.) Amy is slightly nerd-ish about the Bible, but it’s only because she’s a mess without it. And P.S., her favorite food is peanut butter and jelly.