Having a child is like entering a secret society that you didn’t realize millions of people had already gotten into. All of a sudden there’s a kinship with others who are talking about their children and what they’re doing. There is an interest in sharing what your little ones are up to. Your world shrinks and expands the moment you have a child in your life. Say goodbye to uninterrupted conversations with adults and hello to a brand new repertoire of lullabies.
Just like every secret society, there are rules and ways of being that weren’t apparent to you before joining: morning rituals, screen time preferences, working or not working, nap times, and more. Getting pregnant was one thing, but the world of parenting comes with so many opinions and options that you can be making the right and wrong decision at once depending on who you talk to.
Unfortunately, the rule book of this secret society is more like a blurry line where milestones and personality meet. How much our children smile, how quickly they learn to walk, when do they start to talk? All of these have the vague resonance of milestones, but the breadth of when children can start to do those things and how often, varies. Some children smile all the time from a few weeks old and others smile only sometimes. Some children walk before their first birthday and others aren’t walking until almost 2. And talking comes in so many forms—some children are stringing sentences together at 18 months and others are just repeating the tone and cadence of words but don’t really speak until 3 years old.
“Getting pregnant was one thing, but the world of parenting comes with so many opinions and options that you can be making the right and wrong decision at once depending on who you talk to.”
We all learn that each parent that goes through the ritual of having a baby (by birth, adoption, or other) must wade their way through the new world they have found themselves in and make their own choices. Even though there are professionals, other parents, and corporations that would love to tell you they know best—the most important part of joining the society of parenthood is learning how to listen to yourself and your children first. Learning how to see our children for where they’re at and who they are versus where someone else is at and who they are.
Another aspect of this new society we’ve joined is the fine line between sharing experiences and looking for advice. Sometimes we just want to vent about a difficult time we’re having or glow about something awesome our child has done; other times we are looking for someone to give us perspective around something our child is doing or saying that we don’t understand how to handle. How we meet each other in that conversation can create kinship or a deep divide.
I’ve found that it’s incredibly easy for others, even myself, to say what I would do, what I did, what I think others should do—but it’s much more difficult for us to see that each parent/child relationship is unique and should be treated as such. When I’m not wrapped up in what my experience is like as a parent, I see that this secret group we have joined is actually a chance to find our most truthful self while relating to others on that same journey.
We are invited to notice how we are acting and reacting to these little beings that are learning everything for the first time. How we handle minimal sleep while teaching boundaries, how we deal with tantrums over putting on a coat on a freezing day, how we are present for their boundless energy all day, every day.
Nobody prepared us for joining the secret society of parenthood. No one could explain the nuance of their journey once they joined. We all just enter in our own way, walk at our own pace, and hope that we’re doing right by those we have brought into the world.
“NOBODY PREPARED US FOR JOINING THE SECRET SOCIETY OF PARENTHOOD.”
I truly believe the only way to be successful is to listen to yourself and your child(ren)—make decisions that feel right because of your wants and needs, not because of someone else’s. The secret society of parents is made strong by those who choose themselves and their children first. If you’re doing something differently than others but it feels right, it probably is.
Mackenzie is a full-time mom of two young children, Annabella (2yr) and Henri (6mo). They spend their days around the house pretending to be Mickey Mouse and dancing on the bed. When she’s not taking care of them she loves to cook meals with her husband and tend to her seedlings.★