I was terrified to go into labor when I was pregnant.
I went through a whole series of childbirth classes, read an unreasonable amount of books on the topic and talked to anyone I could who had been through it.
I was induced because I was two weeks overdue, had countless complications arise and ended up with an emergency C-Section after over 12 hours of labor. In the exhausting aftermath I looked down at this tiny pink baby and, eyes barely able to focus and said, “He’s nice.”
None of those books or classes could prepare me for how tired I would feel afterwards. Somewhere along the way, after getting a little drug-infused sleep and seeing a parade of visitors in and out of my room we were left alone—my son and I. And then it happened. I fell madly in love and my heart somehow became a part of him. Nobody ever warned me how deeply that love would run.
As the years followed, new experiences flew in front of me like leaves in the wind.
The first time I had to drop him off at daycare so I could go to work, I felt my heart rip into pieces. It just didn’t seem right for someone else to take care of his every need. Would she pick him up when he cried? Would she change him often enough? Would he miss me?
Nothing I did prior to that day could have made that awful feeling any better, but people told me he would be fine and that I would be fine. Except I wasn’t fine—I was an emotional wreck.
Time went by and while I hated leaving him at daycare, I became used to it. I learned to adjust, yet struggled to keep going to work everyday. On the day he took his first step, I watched in amazement as he toddled away from me. My heart sang with joy and sadness at the same time because he was growing up. I couldn’t have ever imagined feeling these two emotions so intensely until that moment.
Before long, I found we were expecting another baby.
I sat down on the bathroom floor and stared at the pink tulips in our vinyl floor and couldn’t believe I would be able to handle two children. Wasn’t I overwhelmed enough with one? How would I deal with morning sickness, a toddler and a job?
Amazingly, I did and no one ever told me I would one day be capable of throwing up while preventing my son from eating the soap out of the bathtub at the same time. We got through it and months later my little girl was born.
No one told me that with each child, your heart grows a little more and you can’t ever imagine what your life would be with out them. And no one ever told me how badly I would be sleep deprived after nursing a newborn ever hour and soothing a worried big brother.
Life went on being messy and beautiful at the same time. We laughed and we cried and watched in awe as our children started growing into little people with opinion, thoughts and—most especially—questions.
“Mommy, why is the moon only out at night? Is it enemies with the sun? Why can’t I see Pluto? Why does Saturn have rings and Mars doesn’t? Do you like Saturn? Can we send Hallie (his sister) there?”
Try answering questions about space while navigating through morning traffic and attempting to sip your coffee without spilling it. I couldn’t have ever dreamed I would have such an inquisitive son and that I would be looking up information about space so that I could give him correct answers. I wouldn’t have believed anyone if they would have told me I would be singing the Blues Clues planet song until I sang it in my sleep.
Since life has a way of catching you off guard when everything is perfect, I could have never known how I would react when my niece showed up at our door on the night after Christmas with a policeman at her side. She was only seven at the time and her mother had been ill. No one ever told me how to explain death to a child. No one ever told me how to become a mother overnight to a grieving and broken little girl or how to suddenly know about Girl Scouts and homework.
We moved through each day and learned from each other. We had so many bad days that at times I felt like I just couldn’t go on. No one ever told me how hard this would be and that I would someday question every moral and thought I had held to be true. But we went on anyway somehow and found peace.
Except that sometimes stress can crack foundations when no one is looking.
My children are growing and I find that so am I. People have come in and out of my life and jobs have ended and new ones began. Driving lessons and teenage dating are a part of my life now and no one ever told me how scary that would be. My son’s eyes meet mine now when we stand face to face and I can still remember when our eyes met the night he was born. My little girl has turned into an emotional roller coaster tween and I didn’t realize how I could both love her and be frustrated by her. No one ever made me aware how fast time can go.
No one ever told me because no one could possibly explain how much your heart can swell with joy, or how you can find resilience in upheaval and joy in moments of pain. No one can explain that when parts of you get broken into tiny pieces you pick them up and make a new stronger part.
What they don’t tell you is that this is the cycle of life and you are forever changing.
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Ed: Sara Crolick
Photo Credit: Pinterest