When I was 18, I thought I was ready for college. In actuality, I was ready to be away from my parents, on my own, drink illegally, and not have a curfew, but was I really ready to take something like choosing my future career path as seriously as I should have? Not at all, neither were most of the super-fun boys and girls I
raised hell studied with those four years, but dammit we had a ball.
When we walk down the aisle, say, “I do, and I will love you forever and ever, promise,” do we really know what kind of commitment we are actually making? We are saying we will be loyal and true to one person forever, even when our partners make us feel like smothering them with a pillow and we can’t handle the sound of their chewing. Of course we don’t really know what we are agreeing to, because we have never fucking done it before. We have never made such a promise to anyone, but we feel we are ready (hopefully, so we do it).
Are we ever really ready for anything? We may feel prepared, but being ready and being prepared are not the same thing. When we do big life-changing things for the first time, we have no way to truly know if we are ready; we only find out after the fact. We may be ready for certain aspects (drunken Taco Tuesdays, some good good lovin’, etc.) of each phase of life, but that doesn’t always mean we are ready for the whole shebang.
Then there are times when we know we aren’t quite ready for something, but we do it anyway. An experience can still feel natural, and just because we don’t have everything in place, we proceed simply because it is important to us. The weeks, months, and years slip by, and sometimes we look back and think, I was just a baby when I did that. Why did I think I was ready? I had no idea what I was getting into. That is what runs through my head each time I think of my first pregnancy.
I was as ready as one could be for motherhood. I had wanted a child for years, I counted down the days until I could meet him, I recorded every kick, wore maternity clothes way too early, and talked about it so much I am sure people wanted to physically hurt me.
And then he came, and I realized I wasn’t ready at all. Not even a little. I wasn’t ready to care for another human. I wasn’t ready to feed him every two hours. I wasn’t ready to sit in a puddle of hormonal soup everyday, endure sleepless nights, and cry all the damn time because I knew deep down I wasn’t ready to do this. But I did it. We always do it.
The phrase ignorance is bliss was coined for a reason, but I have learned something after doing a few (okay, a zillion) things before I was truly ready: I am so thankful I just did it anyway, because what if I didn’t? I would not have three precious children, and there would certainly be a lot less doing, less mistakes, and less learning and growing, especially when I thought I was ready to be a mom.
Besides, regardless of whether we are ready or not, life happens anyway. Our kids grow, our relationships ebb and flow, loved ones get sick, people can really hurt and disappoint us. Sometimes we don’t have control over what the universe hands us, and sometimes we do. But we have no way of knowing what it is really like until we have been through it ourselves. And for every time we were put through something we just weren’t ready for, it primes us for the next time and the next.
I’m not advocating for not preparing for huge life events, and I’m definitely not saying we should jump into things we are truly not ready for, but there are some things we can’t ever be truly prepared for until we do them. Until we know we want them, we steel ourselves for the impact, and we figure it out one day at a time.
And the thing is, we always somehow make it out the other side, and usually we become better people because of it. And you can bet your ass I am as ready as ever for a boozy Taco Tuesday to help get me get through the madness of trying to figure life out. You should join me.