Friday, January 2, 2009

Another new year and I'm ready.

Several years ago, we received a birth announcement from a dear friend and next to the picture of her beautiful baby boy was this quote by author Elizabeth Stone:
Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
At the time that quote struck me as terrifying. I was childless and fancy free with my heart tucked neatly inside my chest where it belonged. I couldn't imagine making a decision that would change things so dramatically. I knew I wanted to be a mom someday but...whoa.

Fortunately, I came to discover that parenting is a much more gradual transformation than that quote lead me to believe. You don't pee on a stick one moment and suddenly find yourself thrust into the throes of motherhood the next. It takes a little time to get from here to there.

The pregnancy alone takes nine months (ten if you're the one who's pregnant) which is plenty of time to go from crying (not tears of joy) and wailing, Noooo! I'm not ready for this. I didn't know before but now I'm sure, I am NOT ready to be a mom! to saying all day every day as you waddle around in all 180+ pounds of pregnant glory, I am SO ready for this baby to come.

Trust me.

Then the baby comes and you momentarily freak out because the hospital discharges you and sends you home with absolutely no instructions (other than a thin pamphlet urging you to never, EVER shake your baby) or supervision (aside from your husband but, let's be honest, he's even more freaked out than you) and just expects that you know what you're doing. Just because you birthed the darn thing does not necessarily mean you have even the slightest idea what to do with it.

You stay in this perpetual state of overwhelmed awe until suddenly it hits you: all you really have to do is keep the baby alive. You don't need to teach it to talk or potty train it or pay for it's college tuition. Not yet, anyway. You just have to get the baby to eat and sleep and do your best to keep it relatively clean and happy. Do all that and manage to wash your hair once in a while? Mother of the freaking year.

Sure it gets harder (and harder, and harder...) but not all at once. And certainly not before you're ready. This is hard to believe of course but if the last few years with Liam have taught me anything it's that whether I think I'm ready for the next step or not, it comes and I handle it. I may not knock every pitch out of the park but I continue to step up to the plate and swing like I mean it.

And as hard as it would have been for the old me to believe it, I actually like having a chunk of my heart walking around outside my body. It holds me up to a higher standard and makes me feel accountable to someone I adore. Plus, it is a great way to get out of things without looking like a wuss.

Take New Year's Eve for example. Some crazy smart friends of mine hand crafted a hot tub* in another one of our friend's back yard (he moved and couldn't come back for New Year's so it was an evil genius way of getting back at him) and threw a kick ass bonfire party.

Now, I typically find a hot tub situation hard to pass up but when it's a hot tub that someone you know made, the urge to strip down and jump in is impossible to ignore. If I wasn't for the whole my heart is already up waaay past it's bedtime excuse, you better believe I would now be basking in the regret and humiliation that would naturally follow a post pregnancy skinny dip.

The old me - the one who feared losing myself and the ability to do whatever I wanted - could never have imagined how comforting it would be to give away my heart to someone I love.

But I also wouldn't have believed it was possible to balance a 30 pound toddler and a keg cup of champagne with style and grace.

Only time will tell what else I have to learn.


Some notes on the hot tub:

To be honest, I don't know how they pulled it off. It started the morning of New Year's Eve with breaking into our friend's house and a trip to Home Depot. They built the frame with plywood, covered it with a thick sheet of plastic and piped water from the bathtub out the window. Somehow a barbecue and drill press got involved (For heat? Circulation? I'm telling you, these people are crazy smart!). Then a fancy white tent with lights was placed over the entire thing for an ambient DIY grotto effect.

Tough to pass up...well, not that tough.

1 comment:

Girl Healthy said...

I gotta meet these friends...