I think about those first nine months, and how I miss them. I miss being just us, protecting and nourishing her. Pregnancy surprised me: “I knew it would occupy my body, but I was surprised with how quickly it took root in my thoughts and prayers and dreams. I was never unaware of it. I never forgot about it, never woke up surprised by my big belly. It is much more an active thing than I thought, a thing you do, to care for, to think about. I thought it happened to you, and then at some point a baby came and that’s when the life change began. But that’s not the case at all.” (Shauna Niequist, Orange Tangerines)
Even before she was born, she overtook my soul and woke up parts of me I didn’t know were sleeping. Parts of me I maybe didn’t even know belonged to me, kind of like the triumphant day Audrey L realized she had toes, and that they were lush and savory and they came with her, everywhere! I have feelings like that now, ones that go with me everywhere: good feelings, like pride and honor and fresh identity. Feelings of being complete, of creating legacy, of celebrating life. These feelings consume me and fill me and nourish me, like a mug of french roast and cream.
There are other feelings too, and they go with me everywhere I go. Hard feelings, like fear and terror and horror and failure and more fear. Fear of not being a good enough parent, of not teaching enough of the right things, of dropping her or hurting her or someone taking her. Fears for her future in this crazy, bizarre and wild world. Fears of ruining her with my words, or my actions, with what I do or don’t do. Parenthood is riddled with fear, kind of like it is riddled with sleep deprivation and stains. (see 100 Things for more on this)
Some days I become so frustrated with this child, and I say things like “Don’t you get it? We are just trying to help you out here” and “We’re on your side!” And I am reminded about God as our Father and how He must feel like that so often, “C’mon child, don’t you understand that this thing you are going through is in your best interest? Haven’t we done this enough times that you can trust me now and not scream your silly, sorry face off? Why are you making me feel so bad when I love you so good? Wouldn’t you rather rest than wrestle? Wouldn’t you rather eat pears than dirt? Please. Trust. Me.”
I am so much like a newborn somedays that it is embarrassing. So sure I know better than my Father, that I have it figured out and if I just scream loud enough He’ll change my situation, because I don’t like discomfort, even if it is what is best. I hope I can grow with my daughter, grow into a place of trust, a place of feasting on real food, not the pureed stuff. Of loving deeper and letting fear lead my actions rather than paralyzing them. I hope to show her what it means to be a lady, to be a friend, to be a lover, to be different and to be okay with that.
Happy nine months, darling. Thank you for changing my life. I love you.