This morning, I laid curled up in bed with sweet baby Yum Yums on one side and the love of my life on the other. The other two kids were in their beds safe and sound, then after a bit, they went about their business like little 5 & 7 year old adults. It was warm. It was cozy. We were all safe and healthy; and to me, it was what Heaven must be like. If that 45 minutes or so was repayment for every good thing I’ve ever done in my life, it was enough. In fact, I’m not sure what I did to deserve this perfect vacation of a life. All I have to do is look at the Yahoo home page to realize that I’ve won the lottery. No one is bombing my home. I am not starving and running for my life. My home wasn’t taken by a natural disaster. I have food in my pantry. I wasn’t forced to marry at age 14, then beaten on a regular basis – or sold into a sex trade. I don’t live in a war zone. My children weren’t taken from me in the dead of night and forced into an army or gas chamber or worse. I have healthy, awesome children. I have children.
I have children, and I am so glad. I always wanted children “in theory,” but when push came to shove I resisted the idea. My husband had to campaign for our first two – and he had to campaign hard for our first. You see, I just didn’t know I’d love being a parent so much, and I was afraid. There, I said it: I was afraid. I was afraid that my friends wouldn’t want to hang out with me anymore. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things I liked to do. I was terrified that I’d be replaced in the band. (Our lead singer went into mourning when he found out I was pregnant.) I was afraid that somehow being a mom would make me “unsexy” to my husband. I was afraid my body would never bounce back. What I was most afraid of, though, was that I’d lose the person I was.
After I was pregnant, I kind of felt that I had been pushed into the whole thing.
Then began the constant soundbites:
“Your life is completely going to change.”
“Enjoy it now!” *chuckle, chuckle* “You’re not going to have time for that anymore.”
(random kid throwing a fit at Target) “Get that out of your mouth & stop your crying!” (same kid now screaming in the shopping cart, and smelling of poopy diaper.) – I have totally been there, but it’s not what you want to witness when you’re terrified of being a parent.
“Women used to die in childbirth, you know, and I was in so much pain I thought I was going to.”
“You’re never going to be the same.”
I thought I was going to scream. In fact, I did. I also had a mini nervous breakdown in Babies R Us the first time I went in there. I was trying to be sold on the bulky plastic ugly stuff that, actually, you don’t need. I was sure there was a conspiracy between the minivan makers, petroleum & plastic industries, and Babies R Us, because they had made everything so freaking bulky there was no way to get anything they said we “needed” into our little car. Then came the “you need a minivan” comments – which really is not the way to calm a scared-out-of-her-mind pregnant woman about ready to hyper-ventilate right there in the middle of the high chair aisle.
There was nothing anyone could have told me that was going to make me feel better, so I silently decided that I was going to just be “me-who-happens-to-also-be-a-mom,” and anyone who had a problem with that could suck it. The truth is, that no one has had a problem with it, and no one meant to drive me to The Cliffs of Insanity with their little soundbites. They must have just not realized that instead of being “so excited to be having a baby,” I was terrified and completely “unexcited.” I knew, “in theory,” again, that I was going to like it. I knew instinct was going to kick in – or at least I hoped it would. I also knew that I wanted to be a good mom, and not a
shitty crummy mom. I knew I wanted my kids to look warmly on their childhood & remember fun times. I was just unsure that I was ready for that sort of responsibility.
As it turns out, the instant I held my little baby Noodle in my arms, I was smitten. -And parenthood has changed me – but not in any of the ways I thought, or any of the ways that others warned me it would. Instead, it has changed me for the better. I have a new perspective, and I feel like I understand humanity’s motivations a little better. All of a sudden everyone’s place in the word has a different kind of significance: everyone is someone’s son or daughter and that means something that I just didn’t get before.
And, I still play in the bands I played in before – in fact, becoming a parent has made music all the more important to me & it has made me work harder at it. And I still have the same friends – in fact, I have more friends. And I still do the things I liked to before – in fact, I have more interests (too bad there aren’t more hours in a day). Now, I just like to do many of these things with my kids. Not because I have to, but because I love them & I want to.
Is parenthood all tulips & sunshine? No, of course not. Like anything worthwhile, it takes work sometimes – but most of the time, it’s work that I don’t mind. In fact, I wouldn’t trade it for anything – and I’m really, really glad I didn’t miss out on it. I know what Heaven feels like, and it feels like this morning.