I love the It Gets Better project. I especially love the candid, unfussy videos and the honest-yet-loving tone that most of them seem to so naturally strike. I love the obvious care shown from older people to younger people, people who mostly don't know each other at all. I love that all kinds of people are finding hope in those videos and knowing that even some strangers really do care whether they live or die, and even whether they live well and happily.
I've been thinking someone ought to do this for new parents.
Let me give you an example. Last Thursday, I took the girls to shop for shoes, and it wasn't--repeat, was *not* -- a crazy challenge to round them up and try them on! I have usually dreaded shopping with them (grocery, clothes, anything) because they'd run off, lose interest, need to go potty every few minutes, lie in the aisles and cry, want to be carried (which I don't mind but often need two hands free and we're past Ergo age/weight), want things we're not buying (ie, candy), wander off and be in danger of getting hit by carts.... Now I'm not saying this shopping excursion was totally free of all that, but it was in fact easier than it was even 6 months ago.
It makes me happy to be able to report that. Because I know that if I read it myself six months ago, or almost three years ago after the birth of my second, or almost five years ago after the birth of my first, I would have held onto those words so incredibly tightly. Maybe printed them out and framed them.
In fact, I did receive these kinds of words of encouragement and wisdom. Not via a blog, but from a few beautiful souls who were complete strangers. I remember so clearly at least two times when I would be walking with my baby in an Ergo, and maybe I had some beaten down look on my face which I fooled myself into thinking could pass for the look of a peaceful, blissy new mama, and someone would stop me to say with delight and no small measure of warmth, "Oh, it just gets better from here!" And, "I have teenagers and it's only gotten better!"
Magical, beautiful statements that I believed that with every bit of belief that I had. It was easy to believe because I had already experienced incremental improvements with the parenting gig, especially the lessening of exhaustion. But I hadn't by then experienced what it was like to interact with someone who could express their personality using words and not just variations on "waaaahhhhhhhhh!!!" I had to simply trust that for some,and maybe even many, this business of caring for a growing person did get easier.
And it does. Not only does it get easier physically, for my money it also gets more fun. That is to say, more knock knock jokes than you could possibly imagine on your own. More koala pictures. More repetitions of "Happy Birthday." More eye rolls, but also more imagination, more giggles, more flat out breathtaking insights. Yep, from your three year old.
I have feelings about the end of the baby years. But I can't help but feel some miracle and wonder at what's right here, right now. And maybe just sharing that can be a light at the end of the tunnel for someone out there.
So I am here to report to you brave, tired new parents, from someone who is only slightly further along on this parenting path: It gets better.