Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Preparing for Baby with the Help of Jack Wagner, Super Mario, and John Mayer

I am doing something right now that I know in just two short weeks will seem like a ridiculous guilty pleasure. I am sitting in the house by myself listening to the rain. The house is a disaster, I cannot see my feet, and I still haven’t written the kids thank you notes from their birthday presents which they received a month ago. Perhaps best of all, I don’t really care.

There is a strange peace here today. The rain feels special and appropriate for this Tuesday which is weird. I’m not usually into rain. If I were I would be all plaid shirt loving on Seattle and Starbucks and singing the praises of Portlandia but I don’t. Generally I’m a sunshine girl. But today I am digging this. It feels cleansing and nice. I’m taking stock of what I have, what’s coming.
My husband and I both have strange and oddly matching behavioral patterns whenever we approach major life events. We both retreat to younger versions of ourselves as if we’re not quite ready to face whatever major grown-up thing we’re supposed to be getting ready for. So we become 12, 15, even 25 year old versions of ourselves for a short time. Because it is safer to be there than to face what is coming even when what is coming is great. Because no one ever said that great and scary were mutually exclusive things.

Last week we were both indulging our 7 year old versions of ourselves. The closer we get to becoming parents three times over, the more I think we are seeking some alternate reality where we are the kids waiting for someone to swoop in and give us bedtimes and limits and chocolate milk and take care of us, reassuring us it’s all going to be fine. I’ve had some phenomenal Jack Wagner tunes on repeat, firmly cementing the idea in my mind that it is 1984 and nothing more challenging is going to happen in the next few weeks than learning fractions. My husband has been diligently playing Super Mario Brothers each night, I think somehow convincing himself that defeating Bowser and King Koopa will be the scariest thing he’ll have to slay anytime soon.
But as we inch closer to the big day we are both slowly preparing to let go of these kids for, well, the sake of our kids. My husband has forsaken Mario for old movies of our first two as babies, as if trying to remember what it was like to start at this place, at the beginning. He is gearing up to do it again, mentally and physically. I’ve shut off my binge of 80s music but I’ve not quite fully left the regressive phase. Instead I’ve got John Mayer on repeat now. Which is weird because 36 year old me doesn’t really like him very much. But 24 year old me was into it. She was still finding herself and she’d wander around NYC with track 1 of Heavier Things blaring through her Discman, feeling self-absorbed and brave and not afraid of hard work which I did a lot of. I worked constantly with a bizarrely liberating and limitless belief in my ability to accomplish things I’d never done before.
And suddenly it seems clear what I need to channel from 24 year old me right now. I need to find that limitless belief in my ability to do hard stuff, that complete certainty in yourself that is largely reserved for punks in their 20s who don’t know any better. Blissfully ignorant but brave as hell.  

And so I listen to the rain and groove to Clarity as 36 year old me slowly gears up for big things.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Nest

The concept of nesting as you prepare for your child’s birth can take many forms and shapes as you near your delivery date. I remember the day before my water broke with Ruby, maniacally baking and frosting more than 60 cupcakes for Dylan’s Yo Gabba Gabba themed second birthday party. Nothing about this seemed strange to me at the time. I was in a full frenzy of butter cream and party festivities. At the end of the day, I remember plopping myself down in the room that was soon to be her nursery, rubbing my stomach and proclaiming really to no one but myself “It’s okay. You can come out now.”

And actually she did. She literally listened to me. My water broke the next day. It’s worth noting this was the first and only time my children ever listened to anything I told them on the first try. But I digress.
And so here I am again. It will surely be my last time being pregnant. I am torn between wanting to savor and remember what that wriggling feels like, arms and legs sliding around inside an increasingly cramped stomach. How powerful and amazing and actually kind of science fiction-esque and cool it is to literally give life. I am trying to stay focused on this piece. Though realistically, I am also huge and uncomfortable. I have relented to an all leggings wardrobe paired most likely with my husband’s shirts. I want to feel all glow-y and blooming. I just feel slow and huge.

But I am trying to move past the physical and focus on this last time on the nest. I am slightly less obsessed with getting as much done as I was last time, although I did have a baby clothes washing frenzy last week. But aside from that, the nest looks and feels a bit different this last time around. Rather, I am a bit more attuned to savoring time with Ruby and Dylan, doing relatively insignificant things with them that I know I will have less time to do over the next few months. I am strangely enjoying the way he sneaks into our room and bed far too early in the morning and digs his heels into my back, cuddling up against me. I am letting Ruby play longer in the tub, enjoying this silly girl time of ours where it is just bubbles and goofiness.
Part of this is driven by a slightly irrational fear that, as it always is with new little ones, time will be but a blur those first few months with our new baby. When we all finally awake from this most assuredly sleepless dream in the spring, I may have missed the moment when the older ones grew up faster than I was ready for. When they stopped cuddling, or started showering.

I try to catch myself. Whenever I get overly sentimental about leaving somewhere we’ve been, Phil is often fond of reminding me that there is no reason to feel sad, that wherever we are, whatever it is, we’ll be back. I like this. It has helped me let go when I want to cling to the past; to appreciate time and space for what they are and to look ahead with excitement.
But even he had to pause last night and remind himself that this was really the first time he couldn’t say that. Our family was changing and growing. For certain this change was for the better, but it still meant saying goodbye for now to the family we have. To looking forward to who we were growing into. To getting excited about meeting the newest member of our tribe. To appreciating that this will be our last time as expectant parents; our last time with a newborn. In this unique moment, there is just cause for sentimentality. This is sacred ground. We will not be back here.

And so the state of the nest feels very different this time around. There is decidedly much less bluster and business. Feathers are fluffed, hay is spread. We live suspended in a strange and unique time and space that we will not visit again, savoring what we have, eagerly anticipating what’s to come, and feeling quiet gratitude as we wait.