Until actually getting close enough to touch something, all you can see is its outline; all you know are rumors.
Before we traveled to India, people gushed about the colors, smells, history, and animals we would encounter… but it wasn’t until we were standing right there in the middle of New Delhi, sucking in the thick, scented air, hearing honks scream, and ogling the street monkeys (monkeys?!) that I began to “get” India. Flickers of what people said proved true, but there was so much more that we could only understand by traveling to the country ourselves!
Now Colin and I have suddenly traveled to the land of New Baby. We (Us?! Really?!) are parents. PARENTS! Before entering this new world, we heard floods of advice. “Sleep whenever the baby sleeps!” people commanded, and, “Parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever love.” But nothing could prepare us for what it would be like to actually be here, raising Devi ourselves. WOW.
Last night Devi was up every single hour, screaming the equivalent of, “Oh my Gawd, I am STARVING and have never eaten anything before and must consume milk immediately or I will explode!” Now, no previous rumors could have prepared me for the fact that it wasn’t so bad to cuddle and feed our child all those hours. No one could fully explain the bliss of rubbing my cheek against our baby’s silky soft forehead! And yet, the exhaustion level and unending pace of a new baby are beyond imagination as well. The rumors were true, but the richness of reality around them can only be tasted by experience.
The difference between being on the outside of an experience versus being in it reminds me of trying to guess what Devi would be like from feeling his kicks and squirms while he was inside my womb. Just as we only knew the outlines of India before actually traveling there, Colin and I could only feel the confusing edges of Devi before he emerged. Perhaps you saw the video of our baby’s crazy dancing while he was inside my womb. Well, the whole time Devi was inside, I’d feel a knobby knob on the right side of my tummy during every dance. Colin and I would wonder: Was that our baby’s foot? Elbow? Shoulder? Once Devi was born, however, it was so clear: That knob was his tiny knee! I didn’t suspect because I didn’t realize that knees could be so sweet and tiny. Outlines and preconceptions can only be fleshed out by the in-person touch of experience.
This is all to say, learning, reality, and life are hands-on. We can sit around hemming and hawing about whether or not to do something based on rumors and outlines, or we can hop on that plane and take the flight to find out! (Disclaimer: That sentence is to persuade people to travel, not to have babies without extremely strong support systems. This baby raising thing is no joke!)
So what about you? When you’ve gone from the outside to actually experiencing something, what did you recognize from the rumors and the outlines? Which of your preconceptions and guesses were true, and which were way off? Do share!
Now if you’ll excuse me, our little ruler is insisting he is starving again, though his triple chin suggests otherwise…
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!