I heard it time and again.

“Nothing prepares you for parenthood.”

I’ve probably said it a few times too.

When we use that phrase, we mean that parenthood is a uniquely tough enterprise.

Before having Marshall, I assumed people were referring to the tangible demands of parenthood and the ways it changes your daily living.

Uninterrupted sleep and sleeping in become things of the past. Your body is no longer just yours. Forget about privacy. Toys and baby gear take over your home. Good luck watching an entire movie in one sitting. Me-time? Couple-time? Yeah, right!

None of that phased me. I knew life was going to change. I was ready. I was excited! I never doubted that the joy of parenthood would be worth the sacrifices.

What I didn’t understand–and perhaps couldn’t understand beforehand–is how emotionally challenging parenthood can be.

I am not a perfectionist. In most things, I think pretty good is good enough. I’m fine with mediocrity if it helps me maintain balance in life.

Except when it comes to my baby.

I know that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. And yet, I have put a lot of pressure on myself over the past ten months to do everything “right” when it comes to raising Marshall.

I imagine part of that drive is due to the fact that I have incredible parents who set the bar really high with their example of parenting.

Additionally, I think being a stay at home mom has added fuel to the fire. Right now taking care of Mars is my sole job, so I feel like I have no excuse to be anything less than perfect.

No doubt our cultural expectations of parents play a role too. It is assumed that when you have a child, he or she will become the center of your world. The extent to which that is true is the marker for how good of a parent you are–particularly for moms.

I can’t help but think that losing Lewy has colored my experience as Marshall’s mom as well. I’d say that at least once a day I feel a bit overwhelmed by the thought of Marshall dying. It crosses my mind more than I’d like. Sometimes it feels like it’s just a matter of time and the best I can do is make his life incredible in the time that he has left. That and do everything I can to ensure that if/when he dies, it’s not my fault.

Despite my best efforts, I feel like I never quite measure up to the standard I have set for myself. And that has been hard to swallow. I try, try, and try again. But it seems that as soon as I figure something out, it stops working. Or some new challenge presents itself.

Parenting can be hard on your self-confidence. That’s the thing that I didn’t really get before. Nothing prepared me for that.

I have found recently that there is one aspect of parenting about which I feel great. I am spectacular at being goofy, which elicits the greatest laughter I have ever heard. Putting a smile on Marshall’s face is one of the best feelings in the world, and I love that it’s becoming so easy to do!

Making his springy dragonfly spring into action and saying “boing” over and over again.

Smelling his shoe and saying “ewwww.”

Pulling back and hollering “ow!” when he pulls my finger into his mouth as if he’s going to bite it.

Sticking my tongue out after he sticks his out.

Chasing him around the living room.

The list goes on.

He is a happy boy who loves to laugh, and I am a happy mom who is good at making him laugh.

Maybe I’m not so terrible at this after all.