Here’s one thing I’ve realized over the last five years: you can never really prepare for parenthood. Â Yes, you can buy the motherhood books and mine the wisdom of your friends and offer to babysit for their kids, thereby acquiring some level of competency in how to change a diaper or support a floppy newborn head. Â Â But nothing really gets you ready for the life-altering, universe-upending, all-consuming reality of parenting. Â It’s only when you are right in the thick of it that you realize how utterly exhausting — and jaw-droppingly beautiful — it is.
This certainly describes my journey. Â Prior to having Matthew, I had no idea that I could be so exhausted, physically and mentally. Â I had no clue that I would have to function for days on spotty, brief, Â grade-D quality sleep. Â I also had no idea that the smile of a newborn could make me want to cry with happiness, or that being in the firm circle of a toddler’s hug would make me wish for time to stop right there, so I would never have to feel him let go.
I couldn’t have imagined any of this, really. Â I just had to live it and find out for myself.
And as we celebrate the Annunciation today, I feel a strong sense of kinship with Mary. Â She could not possibly have imagined in advance what being the Mother of God would be like. Â When she said yes, she must have known, on some level, that she was going into it blind. Â She could not possibly have anticipated the glorious highs, the terrifyingly abysmal lows, and all the little graces in between.
But she was willing to find out. Â And — to echo Robert Frost — that has made all the difference.
Annunciation by Domenico Beccafumi