You never really know what something is like until you go through it for yourself. People can tell you about their experiences, tell you what to expect, and you can do a lot of research on your own – all to prepare you for the point where you finally experience it for yourself. But you never really feel it – and you never really know it, until you’re in it yourself.
I remember a few years ago, a discussion with some fellow bloggers, about marriage. We all had our ideas, our dreams, our warnings (the defence mechanism for not letting the dreams go to our heads) – things we learnt from the problems of others; ideals we held for our own futures: aspirations of the lives we wanted to live when we finally stepped into that (hopefully) eternal union with another.
But we knew that, until we actually went through it ourselves, we were just hypothesizing.
Almost a year and a half into marriage, and those days seem so far away from me – in time and memory. It’s like I rarely remember what those years felt like at all, let alone the intensity of those feelings.
And today, as I stand so comfortably and established in this now not-so-new life, the coming months bring with them the promise of a further step forward, God-willing. After being so settled for what seemed like a long time, the natural progression from one state of life to another continues: from singledom to marriage, now marriage to parenthood.
And, from what I gather, the next step is all about sacrifice. For, with this new arrival, my life is no longer my own. I think now of the immensity of giving that’s involved in being a parent. I think of what a parent is: what they give to their children, what they give up for their children, what they do for their children; the natural instinct they have to want to do anything to make their children happy.
And I wonder – selfish as I consider myself to be – whether that’s something that will come naturally to me too. Will I just automatically switch to sacrifice-mode? Will it take years to learn? Will I ever be as giving, loving, or amazing as my own parents were (and still are) with me?
Relating back to the intro, I guess it’s only a matter of time until I find out (roughly four months or so, to be more specific).
And while the world seems to be running itself down at a more rapid rate now – with financial crises, environmental problems, and sometimes social anarchy (i.e. the crime situation here and elsewhere) – I wonder whether being a parent in these times will be more difficult than the past.
I recall a Hadith that says something like: ‘Raise your children better than you were raised, for they will face more difficult times than you.’
Seeing the progressive degeneration of our world, it’s easy to see why the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave us that advice. But I wonder whether we, the parents-to-be, are capable of even matching the upbringing we ourselves had.
Sure, we have ideas about how we want our raise our kids. But, just like the pre-marriage discussions mentioned above, we’re only hypothesizing. We don’t know what it’ll be like – we can’t know, until it happens.
All we can do is try to prepare, and try to make sure our foundations are strong so that, God-willing, we can face whatever comes our way and be successful.
And, no matter what situation you’re faced with, the best foundation is faith. Faith, accompanied by patience.
The ride hasn’t yet started, and doesn’t feel real to me yet, but once it does begin – I hope we’ll be strapped in nicely and ready to endure the ups and downs, and enjoy the adventures to come.