We should talk about the JOY of parenthood more often

Nicole’s brother and his wife are expecting their first child any day. It could be starting right now, to be honest. I’m going to be an uncle again, although this time by marriage and not blood, while Nicole gets to be an aunt by blood for the first time.

Weeks ago, we had a baby shower for the expectant couple and it was good. But I noticed something. All of the people who already had children would make jokes and comments about how hard it was, how little sleep you get, how paranoid you become, on and on. And all of those things are true. Misery loves company and there should be a hazing period. Besides, while it might not do anything at all to actually prepare new parents for what’s to come, it at least gives them some vague idea.

After the party, I told Nicole that her brother and his wife have no idea what’s about to happen to them, but not for negative reasons. They can’t know what it’s like to have that tiny little person enter your life. There is another level of love that happens. It is unlike anything I’d ever experienced.

Now, I think Nicole’s brother and his wife have a leg up on me in that they have large families and at least have some concept of what this love might be like. But it’s not something you can really know until you experience it. It is unique in a world where so few things truly are.

It’s overpowering and overwhelming and unbelievable and glorious. Our son being born gave my life new meaning, not that the old one has gone away or was bad. But it doesn’t hold a candle to where my focus lies these days.

But we don’t really mention this side of having a child to soon-to-be parents. It’s mostly jokes about diapers and delirium. There’s so much comedic content to those first few weeks, at least in hindsight, that it seems to be all we talk about.

You can’t prepare for the hard parts, but you can at least have an idea of what you’re getting into. You have no way of knowing what the great parts will be like. It is incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. And it is impossible to explain.

There’s the answer.

We don’t really talk about it because we can’t. There’s no frame of reference. We can make comparisons to other times when someone got no sleep or we can describe how disgusting it can be in awful detail, but there’s no shared language between those with kids and those without when it comes to the joy of it.

While I’m thinking about my brother-in-law and his wife and those awful, terrifying first few weeks, I’m also thinking about how amazing it will be. I’m wondering if it will hit them the way it hit me. I know that it is going to be great and that they have no idea how great it will be.

They are about to experience something wonderful and I’m so happy for them.

And while I didn’t need it, it reminds me how incredibly lucky I am.