There is a great picture from Australia circling the Internet of a mother’s shocked look when she discovered the baby she just gave birth to was not the gender she was told it was going to be. The mother had picked out a name for a girl, had a baby shower with lots of pink gifts and delivered a boy. Surprise!
But, to me, the funniest thing about the look on the mom’s face is that she may think she just experienced the shock of a lifetime. Little does she realise that this shocking moment will be the first of many.
My mother used to say, ‘Have the boy first – get the shock over with.’
I wore that same shocked look when our son was in kindergarten and one day informed me that he told his teacher I wanted to play the piano for the class musical.
I had that same wide-eyed stare and gaping mouth when I heard a racket in the kitchen when the boy was about six, came downstairs and found he had taken the table apart, inserted the leaf and put the table back together – all by himself.
‘How did you do that?’ I asked. ‘Why did you do that?’
He said he wanted to be ready in case somebody stopped by for lunch.
My mother-in-law wore that shocked look when my husband, who was just out of high school, announced on a family trip that he’d like to be dropped off at the next exit as he was going to meet up with a circus, travel with them and do a photo documentary. They locked the doors and kept driving.
My husband and I both wore a look of shock when our son announced he might like to become a taxidermist. (He didn’t and, in retrospect, may have just said that for the shock value.)
It’s not that boys have a corner on the shock market – one of our pretty-in-pink daughters once crammed an entire piece of angel food cake into her mouth just to see if she could. Still, boys tend to dominate the shock waves.
I remember being aghast looking out into the backyard one day and seeing our son digging a hole and burying his dress shoes. Years later, we were again shocked when he pulled a diamond ring out of his pocket and said he was going to ask the girl he’d been dating for one month (that’s four weeks, 31 days) to marry him.
Not long ago, the whole tribe was here getting ready to go home. Everyone was crowded in the front hall, sorting shoes, diaper bags, backpacks, babies and small children, when our son’s four-year-old son said, ‘Grandma, where do you want me to put this dirty worm?’ A worm that had clearly been rolled in the sandbox was writhing in his grubby little hand right beneath my chin.
You’d think a mother would be used to such surprises by now. I never am –they’re still a shock.
Welcome to parenthood.