The transition into becoming parent to another person is often described as the biggest (and frequently most abrupt) transition we undertake during our lives. It causes the other common role transitions to seem much more gradual and manageable: becoming an adult has many, graduated steps; becoming a partner is something we can warm up to as our relationships become more permanent; but becoming a parent can feel like it has it like a hammer!
When does it happen? At the moment we decide to have a child? At the moment a child arrives in our lives?
Is it different depending on how we become a parent – is the experience different if we use IVF? A egg/sperm donor? A surrogate? If we adopt? If we become a foster parent?
And very importantly, what process is there to help us adjust to becoming a parent? Where is the “manual” to help us know what to do and how to do it “right”? What model of parenting can we use – the one our own parents provided? Maybe we want to “do better” – if so, where do we turn?
I find the transition to parenting to be a fascinating process, but I see that this time is fraught for many parents – often feeling inadequate, overwhelmed, scared. Sometimes dealing with extra complexities of kids with special needs or strained personal resources. This article from the Huffington Post describes some of the changes that one new mum dealt with after she had her first child https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/transitioning-to-parenthood-part-1-birth-of-a-mother_us_587ce3f0e4b094e1aa9dc816
“Experiences don’t always match expectations, something which can make real life profoundly frustrating. On first glance, the transition to becoming a mom seems like a one shot deal – you have the baby, bring him or her home, traverse the steep learning curve of caring for a newborn, and boom – you have transitioned to motherhood. Not exactly. Welcoming a new baby is life-altering and potentially jarring but is only the first stage of a thorough metamorphosis”.
Remember, if you are struggling with the transition to becoming a parent, it is ok to ask for help – it is a really important job to parent another human, but it is tough too.