How does it feel to be on the cusp of a radical life change? It’s strangely calm.
B and I spent the weekend making some preparations. We bought about 100 rolls of toilet paper, made a mountain of food to be stored away in the freezer for when Bebe first comes home and we don’t want to cook, and cleaned some more. The cleaning just never ends with a baby coming. Nothing is ever spotless enough.
And as I put the completed bolognese sauce and the loaves of banana bread into the freezer along with the endless sheets of lasagne and canisters of soup, I thought to myself, “I’ll eat this as a mother.” That toilet paper? We’ll use it as parents. This apartment we currently inhabit? A baby will soon be living here with us, too.
A baby who is ours.
A baby who will make us parents.
How does that change things? How does that alter the imprint on time, this traversing of objects and people across a major moment?
In the weeks and months prior to my graduations, my wedding, and other transitional points in my life, I always expected to awaken as a newly-birthed version of myself on the mornings after those events had taken place. Simply going through the motions of these ceremonies and rituals would speak into existence a dramatic life change. Food would taste different. My clothes would take on a new significance simply because they had accompanied me through that life-altering moment. I would have earned my right to see the world through a more seasoned and more profoundly transcendental perspective. That right would be cashed in by the Universe and redeemed to me instantaneously.
I consistently would wake up the next morning and look at myself, expecting to see a newly-transformed person. I expected a Kafka-esque metamorphosis (albeit a more pleasant one) but never got one overnight. I would tell myself that I had changed, but by day’s end, I would realize that the food tasted the same, my pants still needed to be hemmed, I still couldn’t hold my own in political debates, and the love I had for my husband hadn’t really undergone a transformation in profundity or substance since the previous day when I had vowed to love him and honor him forever.
The world was still the world. I was still me. And it was a let-down. A big one.
I liked the idea of banking on a change brought about by some event. It was appealing to count on an awakening ushered into my life by a preassigned rite of passage, which had appeared so meaningful to everyone else. So when I didn’t feel it right away, I wondered why I was comparatively numb to the experience and why I clearly wasn’t gleaning enough profundity from the moments of my life. Why hadn’t the charm worked? Why were these events turning out to be so disappointingly arbitrary?
With a baby, it’s different. Reflecting on myself as I dance on the precipice of her entrance into the world is something I do not for my own benefit but for hers. I’ve let a lot of myself go since the last major change in my life, and I’m not sitting around wondering how the world will perceive and deal with me as I become a mother. I don’t care if I exude “college graduate”, “asset employee”, “engaged/married woman”, “seasoned whatever”, or even “new fussy mom” anymore. Despite the fact that giving birth to a new human being is by far the most profound, beautiful thing I’ve ever done and will change the workings of my day-to-day life more than all the other things I’ve ever gone through combined, I won’t be waiting around with a pen in the hours and days after Bebe’s birth to record how the food tastes, how much more insightful I now am, how the palpable objects of our lives acquired meaning overnight. Most of all I won’t be paying too close attention to myself.
B, the baby, me. We’re all going to grow together. The moment she’s born, time will indeed be imprinted with the seal of her arrival and nothing will be the same. But instead of looking at myself and eagerly awaiting my new dubious superpowers and motherly distinction, I will look at her and at B and just sigh. I’ll realize that that moment is so pregnant with love and perfection that it will take our lifetimes to release it all.