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Life’s a Beach By Shelley Murphy

By Shelley Murphy

June is an underrated month. January gets all the glory. As a parent, I maintain June is a much more pivotal month than January.

January is advertised as the season of new beginnings. Yet, most changes such as adopting a holistic diet, exercise regimen or financial plan are short-lived.

June, however, is the month of life-changing metamorphosis, including momentous graduations, weddings and childbirths.

This month, I celebrated both a graduation commencement and a baby shower.

Reflecting upon the fork-in-the-road milestones, I realized that while they are divergent, they share some similarities. Each marks an ending and beginning; elicits trepidation and excitement; and prompts cheerful and tearful responses.

It had been years since I participated in the time-honored tradition of showering soon-to-be parents with congratulatory gifts they’ll need to navigate their new baby’s arrival.

So much has changed, thankfully, since my baby showers back in the 1990s.

First, our decades-old “fashion” was hideous. We wore ugly, billowy tents covering our growing bellies instead of chic knit dresses hugging our baby bumps.

At my shower, female friends and I ate tiny sandwiches, sipped fancy teas and played games involving diapers. Today’s baby showers have evolved into lively co-ed parties featuring trendy games and spirited beverages.

I’m grateful for the many gifts showered upon me; the countless baby blankets, books and bottles came in handy. But nowadays, baby shower registries include a plethora of amazing possibilities, include high-tech gadgets and designer strollers.

Today, a baby monitor is a surveillance device complete with infrared night vision, video cameras, and two-way communication. My first baby monitor transmitted so much static noise that I lost sleep lying awake trying to detect my son’s sounds.

At this point in my life, I have been a parent for almost half of my existence. Yet, I don’t feel qualified to offer advice to soon-to-be moms and dads.

There are no words to prepare parents for that first embrace with their newborn, the moment when a love so powerful turns life upside down and the little person placed in your arms rules your heart and world forevermore.

It’s been decades since my boys were small enough to swaddle, but I remember long nights spent cradling an inconsolable infant, and questioning my parenting skills, or lack thereof.

Back in the day, there were no blogs to turn to for pregnancy advice, no online support groups or access to answers with the click of a mouse.

In hindsight, I wish I could’ve spent more time appreciating the moments instead of worrying about my babies, but I’m a hall-of-fame worrier.

And, as a parent, I worry, because it’s part of the job. There’s truth to the adage, “With little kids come little problems and with big kids come big problems.”

In the beginning, when they’re newborns, concerns center around meeting benchmarks, measuring motor function, cognitive advancement and physical development.

Then, in the blink of an eye, the sleep schedules, growth charts, and first steps give way to worries about teen driving, covert parties, and newfangled romances.

It’s cliché, but true, the sleepless nights spent lying on the floor next to a little kid’s crib will pale in comparison to nights spent pacing the floor waiting for a big kid to walk through the door.

But, alas, parenthood is not all gloom and doom.

Being a parent also means experiencing some of life’s most fulfilling heartfelt moments.

And there’s more good news, with bigger kids come bigger joys: the excitement of watching them walking across the stage at high school graduation; witnessing them make decisions about college and careers; and seeing them find the person to share their journey.

Parenthood is a perplexing paradox. Being a parent is both my most challenging and most rewarding job.

At times, weathering the changing seasons of parenting is trying, but it’s well worth it: being a mom is the best part of life.

For more than 20 years, Shelley Murphy and her husband have lived in San Clemente, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to the San Clemente Times since 2006.

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