Thursday, October 18, 2012

Preparing for Parenting

 The first snowflakes of the much anticipated blizzard started to fall, just as we were getting ready to take our newborn home from the hospital.  We carefully strapped her into the brand new way-too-expensive infant car seat (which had been installed previously by a volunteer in our local police department) and I climbed into the backseat.  Slowly and cautiously, my husband began to drive.

“I’m not prepared for this,” my usually confident husband said in a shaky voice.

“Relax,” I assured him, “it’s just a few flakes; we’ll be at home way before there’s any real snow.”

“No,” he said, “I don’t mean driving in the snow; I mean fatherhood!  I’m not prepared for this!”

Does any parent ever feel sufficiently prepared for parenthood?  How could we have been ready for the debilitating effects of sleep deprivation or have anticipated the depths of love we feel?  Could we even have imagined that with everything we want to bring to our children, they would, in turn, be bringing to us reminders of our own joy, wonder, optimism?

I could never have envisioned all that parenthood would teach me about my strengths and shortcomings, about my marriage, and about my priorities. Parenthood teaches us–expands us, stretches us, strengthens us–in ways we can neither anticipate nor prepare for. What have been the unexpected lessons that caring for your children has taught you?

 Rabbi Julie Zupan teaches Parenting Through a Jewish Lens at the JCC in Newton.  She currently serves as the Jewish Family Educator for the Early Learning Centers of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Boston (JCCGB).

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