I’ve been in the “working with kids” business since 1980; coaching, teaching, supervising etc. I have worked side by side with parents and with people who don’t have children too. If I had a dollar for everytime I heard “just wait until you have kids…” I’d be pretty wealthy. I always thought how those who said it, had no understanding that I have had kids, thousands of them. I’ve had kids who earned college scholarships for sports and/or academics. I’ve had kids who were getting through life in a wheel chair, kids who played, kids who worked. I’ve had black kids, asian kids, white kids girls and boys. I’ve had abused kids, priviledged kids, kids who hated me and kids who dreamed of being me. Man, let me tell you, I’ve had kids.
Then in 2004. We had a kid. Owen. He was picture perfect, at least to us, and it took me all of 1 second to fall in love with him and my wife all over again for bringing him to me. Then in 2008, we had number 2. Emmett. What a great kid. I even assisted, like a MLB catcher, in his brth. Again love abounds and knows no limits. This was nothing like all the kids I already had. I had love for every child I’ve taught (OK not all of them), but it was not like the love I have for my boys. “Just wait until you have kids….” was spot on. I had no idea.
Since 2004, I have been liscensed to use the phrase “just wait until you have kids….” it comes out when I call it an early night while travelling to a meet just so I can call home. I’ve had my share of tears for joy and frustration and when people look at me like I’ve lost it… well, I put the phrase in action. In February my oldest brother EJ had a son, and his arrival into this world was dramatic to say the least. But he’s here and he’s doing great now. I listen to my brother share his child care woes and he asks and listens to me as the voice of experience. I felt like an imposter, I didn’t think I knew what I was doing. I thought I made it up as I went along. I hear advice, good advice coming out of me now. Where did that come from? Do you remember the feeling we all have when they tell us at the hospital that we can take our first child home… panic. We aren’t ready for this…. but I guess when love is at the end of the lesson, we will find a way to learn anything and then we’ll look for more. I think that we become the next link in the chain of wisdom. It’s our unspoken duty, we’re happy to serve our fellow parents because we were once in their shoes. As we discover how to be a parent we share with one another, and others when they ask. It’s how we all learn best, from one another.
We have empathy because we all came from the same place. We all have the same questions and worry about the same stuff. None of us are strangers to the sleepless night or the “spit-up” stained shoulder, and we empathize. I see my brother growing as a person, his heart is open and his son has filled it right up. How cool. He asks questions that make me think and sometimes lead to discussion with my friends, but we come up with answers. I know where he’s been and sort of what he’s going through. I know that when EJ’s friends ask him to go out on the motorcycle, or hike around the desert he may often have to say no because he might be on baby duty, another parent would understand, to others I bet that he uses the phase “just wait until you have kids….”