Quick. Which sounds longer—10 weeks, 70 days or 2½ months? 70 days sounds longest to me right now, so I’ll go with that.
70 days from now, if the Universe is willing and the stars are aligned and my doctor is right, I will be giving birth to a brand spankin’ new baby girl.
I’ve been in denial for a long time (147 days, to be exact). Our little family of a manageable three appears likely to become an unfathomable foursome very soon.
As you might have noticed by my incredibly spotty blogging in the last six months, I’m having trouble putting my feelings about all of this into words. A colleague with a daughter the same age as my toddler reacted to my news by saying, “Wow. I really admire you. I just don’t think I could do that right now.” To which I surprised myself by responding, “It just feels really right for us. We knew we were ready.” And we did. And we are.
Which doesn’t mean we’re ready at all.
Along with the drastic tactics I’ve been taking to tame my growing to-do list (which you can read about here), I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to quell my growing anxiety. I was pretty sure that if I could just read another thousand pages of parenting books about having two kids, and spend another 50-100 hours “researching” online how to manage the transition from parenting one kid to parenting more, I’d feel calm, well-equipped to tackle an impending colossal life change.
Well, I tried that. And it didn’t work. And it sucks. Because now I have to admit that I am afraid, not perfect, and don’t have it ALL TOGETHER. Which I hate.
My anxieties are mostly what you’d imagine: How will I manage to keep my toddler happy and engaged while caring for a newborn? How will groceries and toothpaste and toilet paper get into the house with any kind of regularity? What’s the quickest way to become an expert in facilitating positive sibling relations? What’s going to happen to my marriage when my sleep-deprivation and overwhelmed cognitive load sends my daily disposition from generally cordial to snarling grouchy nag? When will there ever be time to have a life of my own again?
And, suddenly, as I sit trying to put into words every fear I have about my life after 10 weeks from now, I have a comforting thought:
This isn’t anything new. The particulars here are different, but these feelings that I’m having are very, VERY familiar. The feeling that I can’t control what’s going to happen though I desperately want to. A fear of the unknown and the tenaciously unknowable. The frustration that I won’t be perfect, that I can’t be perfect. The fear that when I’m not perfect, I won’t be worthy of love anymore.
And if I can just remember that I’ve been down this road many times before, I’ll be able to remember this: I can be a great anticipator of all manner of things catastrophic. But when I get locked into fear, I am not such a great anticipator of other important, unpredictable responses like resilience, courage, and love. And love is always much, much bigger than fear.
So it seems I find once again that the challenge of parenting is not that of organizing diapers by size in a closet or madly searching pinterest for “best toy storage system” (you know, the one that will enable me to walk across my living room floor without being hobbled by the upsettingly sharp bite of an errant wooden block). The work of parenting seems to be the work of living which, as far as I’ve figured out, anyway, is the work of forgetting and then remembering and then forgetting and remembering all over again that no matter how hard and scary things seem, there is always and there will always also be love and joy and peace available to us when we surrender and remember…
(But if any of you do have tips about toy storage, sibling rivalry, or taming toddler tantrums while getting a preemie to nurse… I’m all ears!!)