Are You Ready To Have Children

SheKnows is proud to offer The Parent Trap column, by mother and writer Lain Chroust Ehmann.
Lain Chroust Ehmann

A friend of mine asked me the other day how I knew I was ready to have kids. "I know we want to have children 'someday,'" she said, "I'm just not ready for that day to be today."

"Don't rush it," I recommended. "You'll know when the time is right." I told her that, like falling in love, the decision to have kids is often an unexplainable realization, more of an epiphany rather than a logical deduction made after months of reflection and analysis.

Though my words sounded wise and, I hope, helped alleviate my friend's fears, they weren't completely accurate. Neat and concise though they were, they ignored any sense of doubt, any misgivings a prospective mother - or father - might feel. This is a serious omission; not only did I wonder about my decision to become a parent three years ago, I still do doubt my suitability for the task - most often when "Blue's Clues" has been preempted by "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," or when I've been reading too much "Martha Stewart Living."

I don't think I'm alone in my fears. I've decided no one with any level of intelligence could possibly look at the decades-long responsibility of parenting, review their qualifications for the job and say, "Yeah, I'm ready! Where do I sign?"

Becoming a parent is so life changing, so irrevocably awesome, so demanding that only a truly clueless individual could think they're remotely prepared. There is no parenting class, no book, no expert or columnist in the world who can portray the rewards and challenges of parenting accurately enough so you can determine if you're really ready.

But I'm going to try.

How do I know I'm ready??
You're ready for motherhood if you're okay with exchanging your stylized Pottery Barn lifestyle for a Winnie-the-Pooh theme, with decorator accents from "The Right Start."

You're ready for motherhood if, in conversation with your parents and in-laws, you're willing to let word of your promotion, best-selling novel, and/or Nobel Prize take backseat to the news that your offspring has received his or her first haircut.

You're ready for motherhood if you'll willingly limit your recreational reading to "Pat the Bunny" and "How to Get your Child to Sleep Through the Night."

You're ready for motherhood if you can move things like taking a shower, brushing your teeth and using the toilet from the "everyday necessity" category to "on special occasions only."

You're ready for motherhood if cleanliness is less important than your child's smile when she shows you the "present" she's made you from your diamond anniversary earrings, three cans of Play-Doh, and the entire contents of the flour canister - in the middle of your unmade bed.

You're ready for motherhood if reading the daily paper makes it seem very important that you do something to solve all the world's ills, RIGHT NOW.

Though my words sounded wise and, I hope, helped alleviate my friend's fears, they weren't completely accurate. Neat and concise though they were, they ignored any sense of doubt, any misgivings a prospective mother - or father - might feel. This is a serious omission; not only did I wonder about my decision to become a parent three years ago, I still do doubt my suitability for the task - most often when "Blue's Clues" has been preempted by "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," or when I've been reading too much "Martha Stewart Living."

I don't think I'm alone in my fears. I've decided no one with any level of intelligence could possibly look at the decades-long responsibility of parenting, review their qualifications for the job and say, "Yeah, I'm ready! Where do I sign?"

Becoming a parent is so life changing, so irrevocably awesome, so demanding that only a truly clueless individual could think they're remotely prepared. There is no parenting class, no book, no expert or columnist in the world who can portray the rewards and challenges of parenting accurately enough so you can determine if you're really ready.

But I'm going to try.

How do I know I'm ready??
You're ready for motherhood if you're okay with exchanging your stylized Pottery Barn lifestyle for a Winnie-the-Pooh theme, with decorator accents from "The Right Start."

You're ready for motherhood if, in conversation with your parents and in-laws, you're willing to let word of your promotion, best-selling novel, and/or Nobel Prize take backseat to the news that your offspring has received his or her first haircut.

You're ready for motherhood if you'll willingly limit your recreational reading to "Pat the Bunny" and "How to Get your Child to Sleep Through the Night."

You're ready for motherhood if you can move things like taking a shower, brushing your teeth and using the toilet from the "everyday necessity" category to "on special occasions only."

You're ready for motherhood if cleanliness is less important than your child's smile when she shows you the "present" she's made you from your diamond anniversary earrings, three cans of Play-Doh, and the entire contents of the flour canister - in the middle of your unmade bed.

You're ready for motherhood if reading the daily paper makes it seem very important that you do something to solve all the world's ills, RIGHT NOW.



You're ready for motherhood if you suddenly understand why your cousin was so insulted when you didn't invite her four pre-schoolers to your wedding reception.

You're ready for motherhood if you and your spouse are willing to relegate your "couple time" to the hour and a half in the hospital emergency room while you're waiting for the doctor to remove a Lego piece from your son's nose.

You're ready for motherhood if you don't mind exchanging your sleek Coach bag for an oh-so-stylish, pastel pink and blue "Baby Minnie and Mickey" tote, large enough to carry team equipment for the Detroit Redwings.

You're ready for motherhood if you think the toddler who's been kicking the back of your airplane seat for the last hour is cute, rather than annoying.

You're ready for motherhood if you can find something - anything - on the McDonald's menu that you can eat an average of twice a week without gagging.

You're ready for motherhood if, after taking an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses, you decide there's no way in heck anyone could or should ever trust you with a small child.

You're ready for motherhood if, even in light of your faults and shortcomings and your total lack of preparation and qualifications for parenthood, your heart's desire is that somehow, by divine grace, you'll get the chance to try.PregnancyAndBaby.com


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