Soon, you’ll have a birth story. And despite how lots of people suspect that what for how I’m your mother I must know how it’s going to go down – Wow, you’re still pregnant! What do you think? When is this baby coming?! – I have no idea. I just know I don’t want to forget the prologue.
See, right before you become somebody’s parent, you do a lot of thinking about things that are big and scary and beautiful and real. Maybe the thinking is inspired by the fact that – in this case – I can scarcely move for my giant belly and watermelon ankles, and I’ve already seen this episode of “House Hunters,” and there’s a heat wave that makes taking a long walk out of the question. But probably it’s one of a number of Universal Prospective Parent Experiences that operate to put you in the proper frame of mind to tackle this new job.
So here’s what I’m thinking on the eve of becoming your mother:
(1) I’m thinking about how you got here. And I’m thinking about how you almost didn’t. I’m thinking that what for all the waiting and wondering and weeping for a kid we didn’t know, your Dad and I became more patient people, wiser, fiercely independent…grew the hell up. We reprioritized, stopped taking shit for granted and celebrated small stuff: the very things we might have overlooked if we got just exactly what we wanted, how we wanted it, when we wanted it, one hundred percent of the time. I’m glad you came to us the way you did.
(2) You’re a total badass. I know this because of all our almost-babies, your “blastosibs,” you’re the one who made it. And let’s face it. The odds weren’t exactly stacked in your favor, Kid. I like to think this says something about the kind of person you’re going to grow up to become, too: the sort who doesn’t cower in the face of adversity and is brave enough to live with us.
(3) I might suck at this whole parenting thing. Sure, I attended those childbirth education classes where I learned to swaddle and perform CPR and football-hold a breastfeeding infant. Sure, I’ve read all about happiest babies and skinned knees. But real babies are way different from dolls and storybook kids. And you’re going to be different from other real babies, so I’m going to have to learn the rules as they apply to [insert your name here]. And what if it I never really “get it?” I hope I do.
(4) I’ve got this parenting thing in the bag. I mean, for goodness sake, women have been mothering successfully forever and ever with many fewer resources. And what doesn’t come immediately will come eventually. I’ll figure it out because my foremothers did. Plus, ahem, I attended those childbirth education classes where I learned to swaddle and perform CPR and football-hold a breastfeeding infant!
(5) I might do some things just exactly like my parents because, more than occasionally, they got it right. This one time, I competed in a forensics competition where I was tasked with a dramatic recitation of a monologue by none other than Jesus Christ. And believe me when I tell you my Sermon on the Mount was so convincing I left that stage with my own followers, but I still placed second. How come? Because the judges took pity on this one kid who forgot his lines, had terrible diction and gleaned very little applause except from his parents and speech teacher. I was probably right to be miffed, but your grandparents still refused to hear my belly-aching. “Which would you rather?” asked Pop. “To earn second place knowing how hard you kicked ass and how much everyone else knows it, too? Or to take first place because nobody actually thinks you’re any good but lots of people feel sorry for you? Now quit complaining. Where do you want to go for pizza?” And so, in that moment, Pop helped guarantee his kid would a) never grow up to be some kind of chronic kvetcher on account of he wouldn’t allow it and b) her happiness wouldn’t hinge solely on the approval of arbitrary others. I’m glad for that teachable moment. I’m glad Pop didn’t miss his opportunity. And I hope I rarely miss mine.
(6) I’m going to make a valiant attempt to avoid the sort of Epic Parenting Fails that cause kids to spend thousands of dollars on therapy as grown-ups. Case in point. The same people who did plenty of right by their daughter also managed to do lots of the best they knew how which turned out to be wrong. And there’s nothing like prospective parenthood to set one to thinking about all the stuff you pray you never do even fractionally like your own folks. Like, Kid, if you ever spill something by accident, I’ll try not to act like it was on purpose. I will. But, probably, I’ll royally screw up something else entirely.
(7) See that barely discernible pile of crumbs on the kitchen counter top? No? Well, I do. And I won’t stand for it. This is because your Dad and I have never, ever anticipated anyone the way we’re anticipating you. We’ve never so looked forward to any visitor in all our lives. You’re it, Kid. Our V.I.P. And though you won’t remember feeling impressed with the utter immaculacy of our home, we want it to reflect just exactly how we feel about your coming to join it.
8) I’m thinking of all the fun times we’re going have together, us three. What you need to know: I love your dad. Plus I like him, and this is really, really important. Your partner is the family you choose for yourself, after all. I chose Dad. I chose him because over and above the fact that we share many of the same values and life ambitions, I actually enjoy spending time with this guy. For the last eight years, even amidst our toughest times – like when we figured there’d never be you – we had so much fun, Kid. We did. Seriously. We think quality time (and quality times) are important. For example, the morning after our final round of IVF, we drove to Cape Cod for the play-offs of “The Putt-Putt Golf Championship, All the World, Everywhere: 2011.” I won first place. A trophy. By one stroke. There was an awards ceremony on Red Jacket Beach. I made a heartfelt acceptance speech. The whole thing was recorded on a video you’ll probably see for yourself and think is cute or ridiculous depending on whether you’re six or 16 when you watch it. The thing is, I had only one competitor: your father. It was a fabulous day, and I trust we’ll have others like this. Lately our conversations have turned to how we’re going to include you in our silly/important family adventures. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
9) I’m not scared. I’m actually very ready, though I have no idea for what. People keep asking me if I’m anxious about, you know, actually birthing a baby that docs inform us is perhaps too big to fit through that narrow passage. But I’m not. I’m really not. Because for as much as birth is maybe a little harrowing come to think of it, it’s a) all been done before and b) the means to the end. Mostly, all I care about is that you’re ok. That, and I’m really looking forward to meeting you.
10) I’ll see you soon, Kid.