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.
You and B will never be a couple again, once your daughter is born you will always be a family. Oh, and expect to be emotionally and physically exhausted for the next 18 years. ;-) Parenting is definitely not for wimps.
Best wishes on this huge transformation. I look forward to reading all about it through your wonderful perspective.
Thank you! I hope I can approach this whole new experience with the amount of wit and levity that has clearly made you a great mom!
All of this is very true. It’s amazing how something so tiny can change your world, but she does. Enjoy every moment for it passes quickly. This also means that some day you will likely be grandparents. That is a major change too that you really don’t understand till it happens.
It really is amazing, especially when I think about back at the beginning of the pregnancy when she was just a tiny little spec who could fit on the head of a pin! I can’t imagine how I’ll feel once she’s out running around and then later if she has her own children!
This is beautiful…
Thank you! On Saturday, B mentioned that we’re in the Christmas Eve of Bebe and it just struck me as so perfect.
I like this! I figured out the commenting glitch! So now I shall resume bombarding you with my comments! Love you!
Yay! I hope it wasn’t too difficult to figure out. ;)
I love this. You write so beautifully.
When Sonia was born, the minute they placed her on my chest and our eyes met, I just started laughing. I looked up at Zach and back at her, and I just couldn’t stop laughing. The moment was so joyous and so huge, yet tears didn’t feel appropriate. I still felt like me, looked like me, sounded like me. And it just seemed so hilariously insane to me that everything had changed so completely in a matter of a few seconds. You wait 9 months and you think you’re ready, but none of it really sinks in until those first few seconds your baby is out in the world.
It’s exciting that you and B get to have your own first few seconds so very, very soon! I’m happy for you guys. It’s been a joy reading about your experiences :)
Thank you! Laughter is sometimes the only way to respond to the ridiculously happy and moving parts of our lives. During our wedding, my husband and I giggled all through our vows because, really, what else CAN you do? (We cried a little too but at the reception everyone kept commenting on how we were just laughing the whole time.)
I am SO excited to meet her. I can’t believe she’s almost here…
man, oh, man, this is so great and so beautifully written. you’re gonna be such a good mom. enough said.
Thanks. I certainly hope so!
so excited for you
I get sarcastic sometimes about the rigors of parenthood, but I will tell you this…when there are days that my kids are having a sleepover at grandma’s or something, the house feels so empty. When you have a kid, it becomes an integral part of your life. He/she defines who you are. It’s a pain in the ass sometimes. You will get no sleep in the beginning, and you will probably yell at your husband over something stupid like spilling a jar of mayo when you ask him to make you a sandwich at 3:00 am, but as they say, the best things in life are worth fighting for. Good luck to you and congratulations. (Damn, I’m not used to serious comments. WTF is wrong with me?)
You are more than welcome to comment seriously! It’s sweet :) Although I DO think there is a certain need for sarcasm throughout the process of pregnancy and parenthood. We may all lose our minds without it.
You aren’t coming up in my blog feed anymore. I do not know why. I only know you posted from twitter. I think wordpress is jealous of your baby.
Hmmm…I will check to see if you’re still listed as a subscriber (if I can remember how to do that.) WordPress has been squirrely lately; someone told me they were having trouble commenting too. Good thing I’m planning on posting on WordPress soon so it’ll get some attention.
I checked and you’re still listed as subscribed. Maybe unsubscribe and then subscribe again?
What’s really trippy is (okay, I shouldn’t generalize this because not everybody experiences it) the intensity of the love. It’s weird because everybody in your life had to work for your love, but not this person. This person just bursts out into the world, demands everything you’ve got, and gets it. It’s actually pretty terrifying.
I love that thought. There are so many borderline philosophical things I’ve learned during this pregnancy, and I can count that among them. Being born is instant, unqualified love. Possibly the best kind of all.
Simply beautiful reflections, Mrs. Em…you perfectly capture the heart of a mother-to-be. You are a mother of grace, wisdom and depth. Bebe will be so blessed to call you hers.
Aww, you’re going to make me get all choked up. Thank you for your sweet words! I’m amazingly blessed to have her soon!
So beautiful, such heavy thoughts. Bringing a baby into being is truly amazing and it continues to be day in and day out (regardless of the sleep deprivation you will be experiencing.) Bebe is one lucky little girl to have you and B as parents.
Thank you so much for saying that! Sometimes I wish I could be funny and light all the time, but when I think about my little family and my Beebs I have a tendency to get heavy.
Emily, So sweet. I remember the first hours of your life. Dad and I talked about how you would be running around soon, talking, going to school, driving a car, get married, and be a mom someday, It’s a blink of an eye! So proud and honored to be YOUR mom and Bebe’s grandmother.
OK, now I’m crying. But the good kind :) You are going to be a fantastic grandmother!
But seriously, she’s not going to call you “Mrs. Pate.” You need to figure out what you want her to call you. :)
I love this post. I do the same with with any transitional period.
Thank you. Glad I’m not the only one :)
The bubbles of anticipation are so intoxicating. Longing, yearning, wishing, dreaming, hoping – the language of waiting is full of potential. You are clicking to the top of the roller coaster, ready to whoosh down and into the loopdy-loop (sp?) of parenthood. Weeeeeeeeeeeee…
What you just said reminds me of one of the final scenes of the 80s movie Parenthood. I watched it a few months ago and was completely bawling by the end.