Thank God I Didn’t Know what I Didn’t Know

I’m reluctant to assume I’m smarter than anyone. This is a discipline as my natural inlination is to in fact think myself smarter than almost every one. By now I’m fully trained and at little risk of making such an assumption. My natural hubris has been fully extracted. At least mostly extracted.
There is one person, though. I haven’t seen him in five years or so, but i spent a lot of time with him. Handsome devil, and fairly certain about all the wrong things. Yup. I’m talking about me. You couldn’t tell me shit I didn’t want to hear. Certainly some that deal with me on a daily basis these days would take great umbrage at my claims that I’m no longer that person. And in those idiot’s cases, they may be right. But to my point, which is a very specific one about a very expansive topic, I know I’m right. You see, what I know about parenthood now, what I know specifically about my experience as a parent is something I was sure I could estimate and get fairly close to correct from my previous perspective.
it wasn’t a COMPLETELY ridiculous assumption. Okay, it was an absolutely ridiculous assumption. But I did have a vast and fairly comprehensive set of experiences working with kids and families and have worked my whole life in caring environments. Which I came to find out was somewhat instructive in putting me in a position to know how to learn to raise kids, but in terms of letting me in on ‘what it’s like’ to have kids, it was of less than no value. That’s right, it actually put me in the hole on that front. Comfy in the hole, smug and full of confidence, unwilling to read a thing on the topic and unable to hear the cacophany of parents ahead of me in the line to get a baby opine on the nature of exhaustion, er, parenthood.
Thank god I couldn’t hear them. Furthermore, thank god for that look on young couples faces whom we mistakenly assume would be interested in the topic of ‘what parenthood is like for me.’ For the befuddled and confused look of younger siblings and friends that think that their vast experience with the responsibilities of dog ownership has made it so their won’t really be a transition to having kids. Thank god I sat in judgment of these stupid and selfish folks with kids that couldn’t shut up about how freakin tired they always were but who were missing the whole point of this most basic and primal and profound experience we are afforded as humans. Thank god for the younger workers that can come early, stay late and be obsessed with their work, who look on you so pityingly, reassuring anyone and everyone that they’ll never let a baby change their lives that much. Thank god that we are all of these things that our circumstances allow prior to that moment. If we weren’t these things we might just have paid attention. Believed those folks that we got to at the wrong moment who couldn’t stop telling you about how hard it is. We might have assumed that the payoff can’t equal the investment. We might have chosen the only smart option and taken a pass on the whole thing. Had any of us done so we would have missed this chance to be the sun for these few early years. The chance to be with the most precious and adorable people we’ll ever know. We’d never discover the love that so transforms you as to make even the hardest and cruelest realities of life seem to fit into an overarching meaning that comforts and informs us and provides us with wisdom and understanding we would never have known otherwise. We’d never have learned the thousands of lessons our children teach us. We would never have discovered any of the music or programs or books that we’ll come across decades from now and cry instantly knowing that they are precious relics from that profound moment in time that lasted years when you discovered the meaning of your life.
Thank god I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Thank god I couldn’t be told any of it. Had I known it would have robbed me of my life’s greatest discovery.

Author: joejmedler

Joe Medler lives in New Jersey with his wife, who is universally understood to be far too good for him, and his two young sons, who are far too smart for him. His work has been featured on MamaLode, The Original Bunker Punks and Sammiches and Psych Meds. You can find more of his work at and follow him on Facebook at

3 thoughts on “Thank God I Didn’t Know what I Didn’t Know”

  1. Oh Joe, that was a beautiful story! I snickered as I remembered the one working 3 jobs and making those asinine assumptions. I remember being that sleep deprived new Mom barely getting any nutrition as my baby sucked it out of me. Struggling with PPD while everyone marvelled at how beautiful my baby was. He taught me so much in that first year. How to cry uncontrollably, laugh vicariously, and love with all my being. Thank you for that reminder, it was very needed as he grows up and cuddles less and talks back more. ❤️


    1. Thank you so much! It’s funny you should mention the necessity of the reminder. All the while during the writing of this piece I kept thinking that the compendium piece I write years from now will express much of the same sentiment but perhaps an entirely different perspective. I love the lessons you’ve learned, and I have to say, we men go a stretch of twenty years or so without tears. It’s not an act, we genuinely can’t access them without extreme conditions dring that time. Now, I’m caught crying alone while driving and if you asked what I was crying about your guess would be as good as mine! Thanks again…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love that you can express that now in regards to your tears. My husband grew up strong and stoic. But now in his 40’s he will say things like that was sweet my eyes started to tear up. I love watching his heart open up so much with our sons. And being able to see that soft vulnerable side is a gift. We’ve both learned so much being “older” parents. Thank you again for your honest writing. I really appreciate your candor. 😊


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