Sunday, November 3, 2013

Katie Wetherbee's "Joy or "Just Wait?'"

I recently discovered a great article by blogger, Katie Wetherbee, "Joy, or 'Just Wait?'" (article provided below).  I vividly remember this topic driving my husband crazy when we started having babies about 7 years ago.  It was his pet peeve that as new parents, we were constantly bombarded with the..."Just wait, if you think THIS is challenging, just wait until..."  Even before our first child was born, the constant flow of "Just enjoy having dinner out together (or going to the grocery store, or to the movies, or whatever) before the baby comes" was just TOO much doomsday.

He was tired of strangers pointing out that our lives were certain to only get worse as time passed.  We were excited about the arrival of our new baby; and, although we acknowledged the uncertainties, challenges, and mysteries of parenthood, we just wished there was more encouragement than warning...

As a mom of three little ones, I TOTALLY get these comments now.  I know exactly what people mean when they say things like, "Just wait, if you think a crying baby is tough, wait until your kids are punching each other in the face."  Trust me, I understand the revolving door of ever-changing, ever-evolving challenges that inevitably come with parenting.

Yet, like grandparents or elderly neighbors, I am convinced we ALL have selective, perhaps even 'nostalgic' memories.  I know that although challenges seem to get more difficult as children grow, we are Lewis & Clark no matter the stage, pioneering through uncharted territories of nursing, solid foods, separation anxiety, vaccinations, school adjustments, special needs, etc. Despite the nature of the challenge, each stage is new and foreign at the time we experience it.  So, it really makes no sense to make the "Just Wait" comparisons of these different chapters of our children's lives.

As a side note, I fully recognize that my daily challenges of taming Tasmanian devil toddlers PALES in comparison to the teenage years...Admittedly, I will likely be the basket case parent when my children reach the adolescent realities of drinking, driving, drugs, bullying, dating, puberty, school stress, etc....AND, I realize it will be a daily tight-rope balance of giving teenagers enough freedom to grow, while keeping a watchful eye and appropriate parameters, in the name of safety.  Undoubtedly, the stakes are certainly higher as they age.  Just let me cross that worry-bridge when I get there!

The reality is that parenthood is simply a matter of economics.    As we have heard time and time again, the best things in life are never free (nor are they 'things' by the way)...We pay a price for the heart-breakingly beautiful and cherished joys of parenthood in the currency of moments that try our patience, composure, mental fortitude, and sanity.  It is a tricky balance of embracing and appreciating the yummy chubby cheeks, sweet expressions, innocent questions, and warm hugs and kisses, while sweating through the tantrums, melt-downs, and i-just-want-to-bang-my-head-against-a-wall challenges.  It can be tough to evaluate with an appreciative, count-your-blessings, birds-eye view when we are in survival mode of a new baby, or 'in-the-weeds' with toddlers.  But, as so many older, wiser veteran parents consistently say, "Enjoy it while it lasts, because it goes by SO fast."  On that note, Katie's article inspires me to stop and smell the roses, live in the moment, and savor the joys since these are the rewards that make it all worthwhile...OK, easier said than done, but it is worth a reminder every now and then.

Without further ramblings, I wanted to share this article that brilliantly illustrates this topic below...

Joy, or “Just Wait?" 

by Katie Wetherbee

As I wait at Target, a young couple pushes a stroller in the line behind me. The stroller, brand new, appears to be on its maiden voyage. I  peer at the tiny sleeping newborn, his fingers curled up near his ruddy face.
“You guys do good work!” I comment. The parents beam with pride, but the weariness in their eyes lets me know that they are all still in the process of getting to know each other. The lady behind the couple glances at the stroller as well, and asks. “Is this your first?” They nod proudly.  ”Just wait…” she snorts, and then follows with a comment about unruly teenagers.
Inwardly, I wince. We seem to live in a country overrun by a great lot of negative naysayers when it comes to parenting. I remember hearing comments like that when I was a new (and overwhelmed!) mom.  It seemed that many parents were suffering from a chronic case of disappointment and dissatisfaction called ”Just-Wait-itis,” characterized by the inflammation of impending doom in parenthood….I felt trapped in a swirl of know-it-alls who were warning me that the worst was yet to come.
Of course, now that my kids are teenagers, I know the truth. Parenting is complicated; it’s wonderful and challenging. Exhausting and gut wrenching. Heart warming and heart breaking.
And, at the outset, parenting can be utterly daunting. It just doesn’t help when others douse young parents with stories leading to doubt and despair.
Instead, we seasoned moms could infuse joy into our “just waits…” As I regard this weary pair, I think of so many things I could say…
Just wait until your preschool son sees you in the hallway at pick up time and covertly grins and waves to you. (It’s the best flirting in the world.)
Just wait until you watch your kindergartener jump off the bus after that first day, triumphant and tired, melting into your arms.
Just wait until your son is up to bat, and strikes out, holding it together despite disappointment. And just wait until the crack of the bat meeting the ball surprises him and he races to first base…safe.
Just wait until your daughter stands up for a classmate who is struggling, and her peers, humbled, apologize.
Just wait until your child, painfully tethered to tubes and machines in the hospital, whispers, “I just want my mommy.” (and you are suddenly aware that your presence is more powerful than any prescription.)
Just wait until your son gets his very first summer job and he is, unmistakably, walking taller and more confidently as a result.
Just wait until your child’s quick sense of humor makes you double over with laughter.
Just wait until you hear your son invite a friend to church.
Just wait until your daughter receives her first college acceptance and you find yourself overcome with tears…not because she’s leaving, but because she’s ready.
The baby in the stroller whimpers, breaking my reverie.
I smile at the couple and look them straight in the eye.
“You have so much joy ahead of you…” I remark…
“Just wait.”
Wishing you joy today~


  1. Hi~ Thanks so much for posting this...sure did my heart good to know it was meaningful to you. We're all in it together! Hope you are enjoying Cleveland...we love it here!

  2. Thanks Katie! I did not even know you lived in CLE?! Small world! I loved discovering your post on this topic. You are very talented and inspirational! Thanks for sharing!