From the moment we found out we were pregnant with our first, my husband and I were elated! We couldn’t wait to share our exciting news. I even remember complaining that I wasn’t showing yet — I wanted the world to know and share in our excitement. Nine months felt like an eternity. I was so ready! What I wasn’t prepared for were all the Negative Nancies (and Normans) who would inundate us with ominous prophecies about what parenting would bring.
It didn’t matter how happy we were. It was as if they wanted to bring us back down to earth from the cloud we were floating on. And every statement seemed to begin the same way:
“Just wait … ”
When I was dealing with morning sickness in the first trimester, I would hear “Just wait until the baby’s born! They’re easier when they’re on the inside.” When we were nearing the due date, I got a lot of “Oh, just wait until they’re up all hours of the night crying!” This was comically followed by the confident assertion that I would never sleep a full night again. What do you even say to that? Thanks for the heads-up? (And by the way, if you’re pregnant and heard the same lie, you will sleep again. You’ll be fine.)
It made no difference what stage we were in: for these nay-sayers, the next stage would be more miserable and more challenging than we could imagine.
One of the most frustrating things about “Just wait … ” is that it never ends. When we faced the early stages, there were always more to warn about. “Just wait until the Terrible Twos!” “Just wait until they start school!” “Just wait until they’re teenagers!”
You don’t have to be a parent to know that it’s tough. But conquering different stages of parenting doesn’t earn you a badge. Having something negative to say about our parenting experiences doesn’t give us greater credibility in the role. Parenting is awful and wonderful and challenging and fun.
If you’ve been “Just wait”ed, there’s nothing you have to prove to anyone. You’re fine. Enjoy the stage you’re in and the one before and the one that will come next. If you’re going to “just” do anything, just keep doing your best.
If you “Just wait” other people, just stop.