Today’s guest blog comes from 4C’s Julie Witten, director of Northern Kentucky Services.
A letter to all parents, from a non-parent.
I held a baby today who is just ten hours old. Baby Will is eight pounds and three ounces, and he has a tuft of black hair on his head. For most of the time I held him, he made soft sucking sounds and held his tiny fists close to his face.
When I walked into the hospital room I saw my friend, who usually has a loud laugh and a big personality, whispering softly to the nurse as she cradled her newborn son. She looked different. She looked like a mother. After we had chatted a while about the delivery, she said, “you have no idea the love I felt immediately for this child.” I melted. After a time, she asked for the baby back, having watched his face scrunch up and saying “if he pooped, that’s a big deal.” He had. Later we laughed about her son taking his first “number two” and I joked that I would be able to embarrass him as a teenager by citing my presence for this milestone.
She asked me if I would like to hold him, and I said “only if it is okay with you.” As a 36 year-old, single, non-parent, I’ve been through my share of friends becoming parents. I try to take my cues from the new parent, realizing that my job is to follow their lead. I support the instincts that new parents have and don’t insert my opinion. Even though I have a great deal of experience in early childhood and work at 4C, I am not an expert on your child.
I recently visited with another new mommy friend and she asked that I wash my hands before holding her son. I was glad she did. I know this is a good practice, and I was proud that she was brave to make her wishes known. I think it is important to honor the wishes of new parents.
I would guess that parenting is equal parts gut instinct, book smarts, wisdom from other parents and some pure luck. Parents, I admire you. You are brave and strong (even when you might not feel that way). I hope to become a parent someday, and I expect that I will need a lot of help.