I remember so very clearly the beautiful October day my husband and I left Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina with our first son. The sky was bright blue with pure white wispy clouds. Some of the trees had just started changing color and those red, yellow and orange leaves shone gorgeously under the sun. My husband and I love the fall, and love days just like that one. It could not have been a more perfect day to bring our first child outside, into the world for the first time.
We clicked his car seat in and I hopped in next to him. The thought of him riding in the back seat alone for the entire six-minute drive home was just too much to bear! As my husband starting pulling out of the hospital parking lot I noticed that he was driving even more slow and cautious than usual to the point where I had to say, “Babe, can you drive a little faster?!”
“I just don’t want to get into an accident.” he replied. “We have a child now. We need to be safer.”
He was right. Our world had just changed. We were no longer responsible for ourselves, but also for this beautiful little being sleeping in the backseat in his adorable sailboat outfit. We continued on at the snails pace, cars honking at us and pacing us. They obviously had no idea that we had brand new precious cargo…or that we were brand new parents who suddenly interpreted the words “drive safely” on an entirely new level.
We got home safe and sound and officially began our journey as parents.
Our son finally settled into his bouncy seat immediately next to us at the dinner table (of course), we settled into our own seats and began pondering all that had just occurred the last four days. My husband paused from shoving food in (we had already learned to shove food in, not knowing then #1 would cry and need attention), and looked up at me,
“Isn’t there a manual that comes with babies? Like how to do all this stuff and what each cry means?” I smiled and replied with,
“I know, right? I mean I can’t believe that the hospital just let us walk out of with this fragile person, trusting that we would know what to do, that we would care for it well, that we would love it enough. I mean wow, are they nuts?!”
We both laughed and then #1 woke up and those ten minutes of peace and reflection passed. It was a good thing we had stuffed the food in!
As I look back at the arrival of my first son and that first night home and all the things we didn’t know what to do, I don’t wish that someone had told me before hand how to do them. I don’t wish someone had given me more explicit directions about burping, feeding, sleeping habits, soothing, bathing. Nope. I knew in due time that experience would teach me those things. But what I do wish is that someone told me to take the time BEFORE he was born to write down my wishes and dreams for him. I wish that someone had told me to write down which values I want to teach him, both through example and through experience.
Oh I wish that I had written about both of these topics because often at the end of the day I find myself wondering, am I doing a good job parenting? Am I being the parent I want to be? And when I start to think these thoughts, I find that I don’t have the answer.
Maybe it’s because of my analytical nature (or maybe it’s just because there is no real answer), but for me, how can I know the answer to such questions if I don’t know what I am measuring against? If I don’t know what kind of parent I am aiming to be? I mean sure I know in the back of my mind what I want to be teaching and how I want to be loving but I also know that with all the chaos that life brings that I don’t keep these thoughts at the front of my mind. And I know that I want to. Desperately. Because they matter more than “did I teach my son to tie his shoelaces today?”
And I know that making a visual cue, perhaps a typed up list of my wishes for my children, my dreams of what I hope to teach them, would help me remember the kind of parent I aspire to be. I could look at it and say, “Okay. I didn’t do the dishes today, but I did work to make a wish of mine for my children come true so I am doing okay at this parenting gig.” Oh how I have wanted to get around to making that visual. I just, you know, have never gotten around to doing it. Sigh.
But then this past weekend happened. I was at a baby shower for a dear friend who is having her first child this fall. The activity was to fill out the form “Wishes for Baby.” I knew the activity was intended for my friend, but I felt like it was really intended for me. I felt like it was the push to get me to do what I have wanted to do for almost seven years but have been pushing off. I filled out the form for her and then took a blank one for me.
The way I see it, it is never too late to have a wish, to share a wish, or to make it happen.
For my sons, who I love so very much, these are my “Wishes for Baby” that I have always had, just never shared. While you are no longer babies per say, you will always be my babies and I will always have these wishes for you, and more. I hope that I can do my part to make them happen!
I hope you learn to: Dance in the rain, literally and metaphorically. There will be storms in your life. When you can, embrace the storm. Know that it will pass and will leave you stronger and with a new perspective. So put on the rain boots and go outside and let the rain pound down on you. You’ll feel refreshed and alive.
I hope you love: With all your heart. It might get broken and that’s okay. It will just help you appreciate what real love is when it comes along.
I hope you aren’t afraid to: Believe in your dreams and passionately pursue them. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that your dreams are foolish and unachievable. Ever.
I hope you get: To experience success, but also, failure. Success will give you confidence, but failure will keep you humble and will teach you how to persevere.
I hope you laugh at: Yourself whenever you can even if you have made a mistake, and never at someone else (unless of course a joke was made.) Laughter makes life lighter and more enjoyable.
I hope you grow: Kindness in your heart and plant it everywhere you go. Random acts of kindness are the most wonderful gifts, a gift that is always needed, always treasured and always impactful in ways you cannot imagine.
I hope you respect: Yourself and all the decisions you make. You will sleep much better at night knowing that you spent the day honorably, wisely, and kindly.
I hope you become: A man who follows his heart for happiness, a man who treats women (and men) with respect, a man who stands up for others, and a man who is not afraid to be true to himself and who he is.
I hope you never forget: Just how very, very much you are loved, appreciated, needed and supported. I hope you never forget how grateful we are that you are in our lives. I hope you never forget how proud we are of you. And I hope you never forget all of the above wishes we have for you.
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I share one of my favorite promises to my boys (and favorite stories that always makes me tear up!) in my new parenting memoir/guide, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids-and How You Can Too!” Full of 100 Alternatives to yelling, Simple, Daily Steps to follow, and honest stories to inspire, my book shares my journey to yell less while gently guiding you on your own. It hits shelves in October but you can pre-order it now by clicking here (you’ll hit my Publishers site which lists all the online retailers!)