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I Never

The editorial powers that be here at Babble* offered us Voices a writing prompt this week, in case any of us were staring at the Add New Post screen in white-hot writers-block terror. “What do you do, now that you have kids, that you SWORE you’d never do, before you had kids.”

I think many of us had the same reaction: Oh, where to even START?

A good 500 "I Nevers" had already gone BOOM at this point.

I started blogging in late 2003, a little less than two years before the birth of my first child. So I can’t even pretend that I was anything other than a clueless, pretentious little twit who thought she knew everything about something she actually knew nothing about.

Parenting is inherently humbling business, as you quickly find yourself no longer in charge of your own life, run ragged by baffling defiant creatures whom you yourself created and destroyed your body and natural hair color to have in the first place! Who are nothing like the calm, agreeable little mini-adults you assumed you would have and drag along to sushi restaurants and the theater and whatever the hell.

My firstborn humbled me. Big time. He arrived by emergency c-section. He weighed 9 pounds, 15 ounces. (That’s two “I’LL NEVERS” right there, and I was only five minutes into things.) He had trouble breastfeeding. He was speech delayed, developmentally delayed, a walking little question mark who dragged this baffled first-timer into a world of acronyms and labels she never realized existed: SPD, PPD-NOS, ASD, ADHD, etc. Our lives, at times, have been consumed with social stories, elimination diets, therapies, private schools, fighting with our insurance company, anxiety, behavioral problems, and being the parents who cringe when the teacher or camp counselor asks if we “have a few minutes” at the end of the day to discuss our child. Who is now six years old and still in special education, and I honestly have no idea what will happen this year or the next or the one after that.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure this was all stuff I was “never” going to have to deal with.

But:

I was also “never” going to have more than one child, let alone three. And you’d think, with all the challenges and struggles we’ve encountered while raising Noah, that we would have stuck to that one. Instead, the opposite happened: We had the child we never, ever thought we’d have, and we loved him. We loved him more than we ever imagined loving that hypothetical “perfect” child, because Noah was our actual for-real perfect child, in spite of everything. And we loved being his parents. We loved that he made us be better parents, because we had to be better parents.

And we realized we wanted more of that, to be another child’s parents, and then another, and to roll the dice and find out the ways THOSE children would challenge us and defy expectations and make us better parents. To find out what other “I NEVERS” we were so laughably, naively wrong about, back before life got so terribly, frighteningly wonderful.

*Catherine Conners, who once physically assaulted me during an interpretive dance portion of a karaoke party at Blogher while wearing a tutu and you know, I COULD tell you more details but I think Imma just gonna leave it at that.

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