People used to ask me when my due date was, but more recently I’ve noticed a shift in the words being used to ponder my pregnant state. Now, I am often asked, “How much longer do you have?” I’ve taken this to mean that I look VERY pregnant … at least pregnant enough to be counting down the weeks instead of counting them up. And it’s true, I never used to know how many weeks were left because I had enough trouble keeping up with what week I was at. Math is not my strong suit. Even if it is subtraction. But now that the number of weeks remaining is steadily dwindling down, I know exactly how many until D-day.
Just last week while returning something at Lowes, the cashier posed that question. I told him how many weeks I had left, and he asked me if I was ready. Without hesitation, or any thought really, I blurted out no. He just laughed. My husband asked me why I said it like that, and I told him I don’t know. That’s just how it came out. Don’t get me wrong! I am eagerly looking forward to the day I get to meet this little person who has been banging around on my insides. I cannot wait to find out if I will have a son or a daughter. But I am also happy to wait eight weeks to do so.
I need that time. Not just to get things done, which you’ve heard me harp on and on about. But to prepare myself, my marriage, my perspective on parenting. Lee and I have talked a lot about our childhoods and the ways we were raised. We already knew there were some key differences, so we are hashing those out to see what aspects of each of our different upbringings we might want to bring into our own family. It can be hard to decipher such abstract things—or to even pinpoint what those key takeaways are. So, we found it helpful to do this simple exercise: After some reflection, we took turns naming three things we loved about our childhoods that we’d like to share with our own babes. And then three things we would change if we could.
Some were bigger, overarching ideas. (Like, the goal of any form of discipline should be to teach not to punish.) Some were more specific experiences or approaches. (Like, giving children a voice in family decisions, whether that’s picking what’s for dinner or voting on vacation spots.) I realize my examples are more for older kiddos, but this conversation helped us get to the underlying values that we want to embrace and exemplify from day one. We want our little one to know we are there to offer support not judgement, to feel a continual bond of comfort and trust, to know we will always be there with open arms, to feel heard, to contribute. More than anything we want to raise kind human beings. And having that mutual goal spelled out before our baby is even here has given us a parenting framework, a guidepost, that we can come back to when it’s decision time … or when our toddler is throwing a fit in the cereal aisle at Target. At least, that’s what I hope.