9 days. Also known as 216 hours. Sometimes referred to as the ‘blink of an eye’. Equally often referred to as an eternity. And, on very rare occasions, 9 days can be all of these at once.
9 days from now, my day-to-day life will be- for all intents and purposes- largely unchanged. I will wake up in my bed, do some early morning work, play with my kid, shower, eat and do all the things that I typically do in my morning routine. And the whole while, I will be waiting…expecting…hoping…praying…
Because, 9 days from now- while my day-to-day life will be largely the same- the lives of my brother and his wife will be changed forever. 9 days from now, they will welcome their first child, and with it all the hopes, dreams, fears and responsibilities of parenthood.
Side Note: Before you all go and get all technical on me, let me be very clear. I do know that only 5% of babies are born on their actual due dates. I also know that the chances are very strong that the baby will actually wait until well into the 41st week before gracing us with its presence. But let’s face it, saying “Anywhere from now until up to approximately 28 days from now” isn’t as poetic, so I’m taking literary license. Sue me.
Two years ago, when my brother was over and holding my newborn, I remember him talking about the fact that he didn’t think he would ever be a dad himself. He hadn’t found “the one” yet and, given his unreasonably high expectations, there was a significant question as to whether or not he ever would. I knew that he would never settle for less than his dream wife, and his dream life. I remember feeling so sad, knowing that there was nothing I could do to give him the kind of happiness I so desperately hoped he would find.
I don’t know how he did it, but somehow Antoine managed to find a woman who would not only match all his expectations, but surpass them. From the moment I met her, I knew how their story would end. Love. Marriage. Baby Carriage. A castle in the clouds for their perfect little family…or at least a beautiful home in Spruce Grove.
I’ve had the great fortune of living extraordinarily happy experiences in my life. I would even venture so far as to say that I have one of the happiest existences of anyone I know. There isn’t a dream that I have longed for that hasn’t “come true” or at least still have the potential to.
But the experience of watching someone you care about find happiness is, in and of itself, a very unique kind of joy. As ‘creepy-voyeur’ as it sounds, watching my brother build his family has been almost as exciting as building my own.
This might be because I can’t think of many people who deserve happiness more than my big brother. While he’s far from perfect, he’s unquestionably one of the best human beings I know and I am reminded on an almost daily basis of just how phenomenal he truly is. He has dedicated his life to serving our community in law enforcement, has one of the most refined internal sense of loyalty, justice and honour of anyone I know, and is- quite frankly- just an all round smart, funny, charming guy! He’s my best friend, and my role model for so many things.
And now, he’s about to become a dad. Wow.
For the first time in my entire I actually feel like the “big sister” in our relationship. I’ve already been through the experience, so I have a bit more insight into what he’s living than he did when I was giving birth to Sammie.
In our world of incessant advice and opinion sharing, this inevitably evokes the instinct to share…and even to try to ‘teach’…at the very least to impart the knowledge that we have gained through our feeble experience as parents. And, if this was a normal day to day thing, I might even have something to contribute.
But the crazy thing about parenthood- especially new parenthood- is that no one can “teach” you anything. While they can share their experiences, the truth is that there is always an unknown factor that will have significantly more impact than any experience you might already have lived. That unknown is- of course- the new life and personality that is about to enter our world in the form of 7lbs 5oz of newborn.
No one knows what this baby will be like. No one knows how to predict just how much things will change until he arrives and makes his needs known to the world.
This is so scary.
This is so scary.
And- amazingly enough- this is EXACTLY how things should be.
Every new family needs an opportunity to figure out for themselves what will work and what won’t. They need the chance to explore and experience the world together, forming a new dynamic and unit as they go. And this is an experience that is so intrinsically personal that even the most well intentioned advice or teaching can throw the whole thing off and taint the experience for the new parents.
So, even though it’s going to be hard, I’m going to do my best to replace ‘advice’ with support.
Instead of suggestions, I will ask questions like “Can I help you with the laundry?” and “What should I bring you from Safeway?”
Instead of saying “you should consider this” I’m going to say “I love and admire how you do this”, and focus on all the things that are going well.
Instead of shaming them in their low moments, I will try my best to show love, empathy and compassion- the exact things that I needed to feel when the going got tough in my early parenting days.
I’m not saying I’m going to be perfect. I’m a human being and I think the instinct to ‘mother’ new parents is something that is deeply ingrained in the human psyche. But I am going to try. I am sure that I will screw up more than I succeed. But I am going to try, and I hope that’s worth something!
And for now, the only “advice” that I have to share is this:
Hold on tight! It’s going to be one hell of an awesome ride.
And then I’m going to thank them for letting me tag along through it.
9 days and counting. Antoine and Heidi, I’m so proud of you.
This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days). To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs:
Meaghan at Magz D Life
April at This Mom's Got Something To Say