Yesterday I took care of a friend’s 7 month old while she went to the dentist. This is not news. I have been babysitting since before I hit double digits. But this time felt different. This time it felt like a trial run at parenting. And not just because I got the opportunity to manage a hungry baby while I had a contractor over so I could sign paperwork to get our roof redone.
Even though Little D was only here for a couple of hours, she taught me a lot. For example, she helped me realize that not all cat toys are baby friendly (although Little D never caught sight of the one I put away after she arrived). She also taught me that our rocking chair is not a comfortable place to hang out with a crying baby. Which made me even more grateful that Little D’s mom passed on a super comfy glider chair (which is upstairs in the future baby’s room, which is why I wasn’t sitting on that).
But the most important thing that Little D confirmed for me is that I am ready to be a parent. Not in the way that the social workers determined that we would be fit parents for a child. I actually never had any doubts about that.
Being in an adoption pool (even for such a short time) has provided me with more than adequate time to obsess on my own fears and anxieties about becoming a parent (which I should add, are mostly irrational) But hanging out with a 7 month old today, when it was just the two of us, felt very natural to me. And I am choosing to take that as an indicator that I am as prepared and ready as I can possibly be to become a parent.
I am fully aware that I will not know how to manage every situation that comes up and that I will be relying (heavily) on my friends, my reference books and my pediatrician for support. I understand that parenting is best done in community. But when push comes to shove, it all comes down to the parent(s). And that kind of responsibility is, to be completely frank, kind of terrifying. But it is also something I am feeling ready to do.
Since I didn’t publish this yesterday after I first wrote it, I thought I would add an addendum. Today my arms are sore in unusual places which I attribute to holding a squirmy baby yesterday. I want to hold on to this feeling to keep me motivated to go to the gym and strengthen those muscles while I still have the time.