I’m sitting here holding on to my enormous belly,
thinking a stream of words running rapidly through my mind… I am 38 1/2 weeks pregnant, only 11 days until due date, I need to be ready, I am ready, I’m not ready, I’m so excited and so tired and everything hurts and I can’t bend over without grunting and squatting, I wake up 3-4 times a night, I have a BABY inside of me, right there, a whole complete tiny human person balled up and it stretches out and kicks me and hurts me and I love it SO MUCH it’s crazy.
I thought I knew what life would be like when I grew up, in my young and unexperienced teens- and twenties-brain. I had my goal posts all lined up, and by the age of 30 I’d have already accomplished so much that I wouldn’t have any worries. I’d have a family and a successful career and enough money to not be concerned with the cost of private schools or the size of our home or the age of our car or the organic foods grocery bill each week. None of that would matter because I would have already made it.
How do we so thoroughly fool ourselves into these beliefs when we’re young? I’m sure I was particularly foolish, so confident was I in my trajectory. But I didn’t know, I didn’t understand how intricately complex life can become with unknowns and mistakes and chances taken. How every decision means something, adds up to something bigger, and that the very small, most tiny moments, most inconsequential moments, add up to become the basis of who you are.
I’ve struggled over the years with falling into a deep well of regret and frustration at myself for things I didn’t do, paths I didn’t choose when I was younger. It is truly exhausting to constantly fight your own mind and try to pull it away from those useless thoughts. Regret is not helpful the way that learning from a mistake is– in fact I believe they are opposing things. Being obsessed with always making the “right” choice feels like an illness, and it is a taxing one to bear. In some odd way, having children has tremendously helped me with these feelings. For me, the act of mothering (in the broad sense of the word– anyone can be a “mother”, whether you have a kid or not) is a thing which puts the rest of the scope of life in better perspective. It is the act of balancing one’s own insane amount of self-thought with the thoughts of others, but in a deeply meaningful and consequential way. My decisions for my own little life have impacted me, to be sure, but my decisions for my children are so much more far-reaching.
I have ended up in a place, at age 33, of understanding at least one thing very deeply: We choose each day how we will perceive our own life. (Barring, of course, intense mental or physical illness, which, let’s be honest afflicts everyone at some point so shouldn’t we all feel absolutely lucky beyond words to wake up each day with the health we do have!) That should be enough of a rope to hang on to and not fall back into that echoey, hollow well of darkness again and again. I can wake up early, take a walk with the sunrise, and decide to be an active participant in my own life each day. The dark well will always be there, but I don’t have to keep falling in.
Right now all I really want is to cuddle with my 2-year-old baby, who will soon not be my “baby” anymore, and practice reading with my 5-year-old, and bake yummy things in our tiny kitchen while my big belly sways beneath a flour-covered apron and my girls say “Can we help stir that mommy?” That is exactly enough right now. In fact, it is everything.