I am not pregnant! Let’s get that out of the way first. Having a child at 50 years old is not on my bucket list.
The title of my post comes from my latest mantra, “That (insert any unexpected child rearing moment of perplexity) wasn’t in the book!” The book of course is the popular, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Like many would- be parents, I bought the book. I even remember the moment. In April 1997, having just had my first pregnancy confirmed by the Dr., I excitedly ran to the big box bookstore nearby and purchased my copy. It was a pinnacle moment as I felt I had entered a long sought after season of life.
During the next nine months, the book became a constant companion of advice and knowledge concerning my changing body and, well, what to expect. Admittedly, there were parts of the book that touched on areas of pregnancy that no one wants to really encounter: the signs of a failing pregnancy/fetal distress. But, I didn’t focus on those parts because that vision didn’t fit with my expectations and the visuals portrayed in T.V shows and photographs. For me, I held a picture of giving birth to this God created human being on whom my husband and I would love. The three of us would adapt to life together. Giggles, snuggles, walks, celebrations of milestones would mark our new journey.
The picture I held of our life together remained similar to the information in the book. The sleepless nights were hard (I shudder to think how I functioned at work on a few hours of sleep), the feeding schedule (every two hours for six months), and the pumping were an awakening for me.
However, throughout the years, more and more situations surface that result in my re-evaluating just what was it that I was expecting?
Sickness (requiring a trip to the E.R or 24 hour drugstore for medicine)? Sibling arguments (that make the WWE look lame)? Didn’t see that coming. Pulling a cap covering the toilet screw from my 2 year old daughter’s mouth while getting ready to go to church and preach? Writing a sermon in bytes while alternately cleaning up after my son who had a stomach bug? The harsh reality that it is not uncommon to lose a pregnancy (I had two ectopics)?
Fast forward to the recent moments: realizing you ran out of bread in the morning and choosing between running to the store or counting change for hot lunch, getting a child who isn’t a morning person out the door without missing the bus, the diagnosis of disorders/medical maladies that I never knew existed, some I wish didn’t (mood disorders, epilepsy), some you would never believe either). What about the run of the mill fever, stomach bug or sore throat-those were NOT IN THE BOOK!
The realization, of course, is that if parents were given a complete vision of the future, a drastically reduced population would probably result. Truthfully, the response would be, “there’s no way I can do this!”
But, that is exactly what God, the Creator of our children, wants. For our sake and that of our children, the call to parenthood begins with a glimpse of what we can expect. Parenting involves humility; realizing that we don’t know all the answers. We need discernment, strength, and wisdom from the One who Created them (and us). We function as God’s image bearers and vessels as we walk alongside our brothers and sisters-sometimes staggering. laughing, crying, conversation, praying, supporting, advocating…..
In the midst, we experience God in a way that we never “expected”-it’s beyond our expectations.
God has always called His people to tasks that seemed overwhelming-Moses, Noah, Abraham, Mary, Joseph-just to name a few. Yet, they obeyed (some reluctantly) with just a little information given to them. They had no idea what was in store but trusted in the God that called them.
I will continue my mantra, “THAT WASN’T IN THE BOOK,” as it reminds me, often humorously, that I’m not in this parenting thing alone. Come to think of it, that goes for life in general. I wonder what surprise awaits me tomorrow?