We are no longer counting down the weeks to the birth. We are counting down the days. There are many things that could be racing through our minds right now. We could be thinking about last minute supplies we might need or where we are going to put the crib. But these actually are not the kinds of things I’m thinking about.
My mind is on our family culture. There is a gargantuan asteroid of change that is hurling toward the planet of our family. We are bracing for impact because we know that this event is going to send shockwaves through every part of our family. All of our normal rhythms will be upset. All of the attention our kids are used to getting is going to be redirected to a new sibling. The wonderful home-cooked meals are going to disappear, and there will be lots of pizza. You get the idea. Our whole lifestyle is about to get a roundhouse kick to the face.
Thankfully, we have reinforcements on the way. My wife’s parents have made plans to visit from the West coast. They will be with us for a full three weeks. I realize that it’s common to joke about how difficult it is to get along with the in-laws. I’ll be the first to admit that relations with the in-laws are not all smooth sailing. However, they genuinely want to serve and support us during our transition, which is a tremendous blessing.
Even with all the best intentions, we have found in past experiences that not all attempts to be helpful actually turn out to be helpful. I was a little nervous about this when my in-laws first offered to come out. We already have four kids, which means we already have plenty of people to manage. So, I was nervous about having even more people to manage (i.e. the in-laws) around the time of the birth. Some honest conversation revealed that my in-laws simply needed to understand our family’s goals and wishes for this time more clearly and then they would be able to offer help that would be truly helpful.
So, the ball has been in my court to cast a vision for our family’s transition so that my in-laws can see their part in realizing that vision. The exercise of writing out our vision and values and goals for this time has brought a lot of clarity in my own thinking. It’s also provided some beneficial talking points with my in-laws and helped us to brainstorm a number of practical things that they can do to help our family around the time of the birth.
Now that I’ve shared my vision with my in-laws, I have never felt more prepared for a birth. I am thrilled that our extended family will be taking this journey with us and that we have been proactive about making that journey a good one for everyone involved. Now, all we have to do is have this baby and see how all of this abstract preparation translates in practice.