The day our oldest was born, the not-yet-to-be-knighted Nomad was all business. I was to be at the hospital early that Tuesday morning, checked in and donning hospital gown by 7 am. It was, due to still murky “complications”, a scheduled induction. Or as the Nomad describes, “the morning we ordered up a pizza.” We were casually pitched phrases like, “small for gestational age,” “possible growth restriction,” and “questionable amniotic fluid levels.”
As if the uncertainty of first-time parental status wasn’t enough in and of itself, we were ensured our deserved dose of anxiety with these last-minute, a la carte variables. And, prior to these discoveries, the nerd in me was determined this baby would be born sans drugs and sans complications – in a dewy meadow, near a babbling brook, as blue birds quietly chirp the news of a new life. (Allow me to insert the collective snort of all the veteran mommas out there.)
Irreverently stated, I was tweaking. The very idea that this baby was supposedly going to make its arrival as casually as a four-cheese pizza – after the long, nausea-filled, sciatica-prone months of baking away – resulted in an internal freakout session. No meadow? No birds? No news of this child’s birth heralded by the mythical Sirens floating their exultations over a crystal sea? Holy crap. This wasn’t at all my plan.
But, thankfully, my husband calmly took the helm, and after some effort, successfully redirected my mental state. With his sympathetic counseling (i.e. “Seriously, hon, get it together.”), and his forward-thinking plan to ensure Dave Matthews was playing in the delivery room without end, our deluxe pie was indeed delivered, quite uneventfully to boot. A sturdy 6 pounds, 2 ounces, and with no confirmed complications.The pizza arrived on time, as ordered.
These years that have followed have been anything but a leisurely lunch on the pizzeria patio. Much like my detailed and unwavering birth plan, my perceptions of what parenting was going to hold for the Nomad and I were squashed more quickly than that child could fill a clean diaper. Navigating these rapids they call parenting has required a sturdy life vest and far more stamina than I had anticipated.
And, I’m going to say what I’m not supposed to say, particularly on the anniversary of your first-born’s birth: some days have been regretfully hard as hell, and I’ve selfishly wanted to resign my office of mom, longing for the days of freedom and spontaneity.
And, just because we’ve made it another year doesn’t necessarily quell those blanketed feelings of resentment and anxiety. Every decision I make as a mother is painfully self-scrutinized. What in these past six (now, twelve… TWELVE!?) years could I have done differently? What could I have done better? Where was my sympathy and consolation during those times that I instead employed anger and impatience?
It’s days like these – the day we remember the moment we first saw her purple, wrinkled, lizard-skinned perfection – that brings into focus the reality that, yes, celebrate we must. For there is much to celebrate. But there is also much more to learn.
I have much to improve upon. Many ways to better my parenting skills and processes. Many ways to better demonstrate to her that even though I am far from motherly perfection, I am honored to have been given the opportunity to improve myself through her. And for that, I’ll never be able to pay her back.
Six years (… make that twelve, and heavy sigh…) of fun and failures. And through it all, she continues to smile, and I am blessed to walk into her room yet another morning and say, “Happy Birthday, bug.”