Your Life Will Change
2. Your life will change. And you’ll be okay with that.
Before Marie was born, my blood-pressure sky-rocketed each time I thought about the eternal and constant job I was undertaking. The label at the end of my defiled stick might as well have read “You are now a mother for the rest of your life. From this point forward, your life will never be the same.” To me, that stunk. I loved my life. In fact, my life felt perfectly tailored to my wants and needs. I wrote all day, coached basketball in the afternoons, and hung out with my husband each night. We’d even sprinkle in some sand volleyball or dinner with friends. It was perfect.
But now my perfect life was going to drastically change forever – which, logically speaking, would make it imperfect. I envisioned my flawless life hanging limply upon an alter like a slaughtered calf. And I was not okay with that.
In her book, The Pull of the Moon, Elizabeth Berg describes motherhood as “the kind of service that makes you feel you should be wearing a uniform with ‘Mommy’ embroidered over the left breast, over the heart…It was the constancy of my load and the awesome importance of it, and the isolation.”
I’ve worn uniforms my entire life as an athlete (and even for four years as a high school student), but I definitely wasn’t ready to don a ‘Mommy’-embroidered blouse. I don’t even know how to embroider the word onto my chest, much less live up to the title.
Yet, regardless of readiness, I now have that awesome, important responsibility of nurturing my daughter physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. Constantly. Forever. To do those things, that means I also have to be physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually present to her. Forever. That’s quite a commitment. Especially when you don’t necessarily know how to do all of those things at a basic, primordial level. Because of that, mommyhood is an entirely new endeavor to commit to – and one that requires a lot of learning and fine tuning. After all, I am a writer. That means I live a solitary life. It means I do solitary work. I’m not used to being around people at all, let alone constantly.
However, during the third week of Marie’s life, my mother-in-law came to visit. She stayed the week with us and helped babysit/clean/cook/do-anything-that-needed-doing. Since I hadn’t been out of the house more than twice in those three weeks, I decided to leave Marie with her grandma while I ran some errands. Errands had become a means of sanity – something to look forward to and an opportunity for fresh air. That in and of itself was a bit of a change. But as I pulled out of the lot, doing what would have been extremely normal merely three weeks before, I felt a sense of loneliness. I had the urge to talk or sing to my baby girl as she slept in her car seat behind me. I longed to see her face. I no longer had a desire to live each day in solitude.
My life had already changed and it was weird. In a good way.
My husband and I still look forward to Sunday morning services or weeknight dinners with friends. We relish our chances to play in old-folks athletic leagues in the area. Those things didn’t simply vanish. But they did change. We have to coordinate Marie’s hunger and sleepiness with the social event. If we plan poorly, we juggle everything at once (or find a good babysitter for the evening). Life wasn’t sacrificed the way I thought it would be, but it most certainly is not the same. And, as I gaze into the innocent face of my daughter, I have to admit: I am more than okay with that.