Today I was in a meeting with a beautiful pregnant woman - tall, very pregnant, very happy, full of hope and love and life. When I was pregnant, a friend of mine told me that there is something very special about an expectant mother. He was definitely right. There you stand on the cusp of such a life-changing event, focusing inward even as everyone around you focuses on the outward signs of your experience. Standing on the other side of the river, it's easy to look back and remember those waning days of my pregnancy with fondness. Being pregnant is no easy thing, and neither is being a mother. Once you're on the other side, the innocent joy of pregnancy becomes a distant memory - a time you sometimes wish you could return to.
My very good friend and fellow hip Mama, Kim, has just started a blog called The Fickle Perennial. Her latest post is a wonderful essay about the transformative power of motherhood, in all its bittersweet glory. Her words got me thinking about my own journey, about how much I've changed from those final days of my pregnancy to now. I found myself happy, overall, with where I am as a mother. I'm imperfect, in every way - I work too much, I have too many irons in the fire all the time, the house is a mess, I raise my voice when I shouldn't, I let Dora watch TV. But one thing I do well is love - I really do - and that's something I've honed over the past two years. I know that Dora will always know she is loved, so very much, by both her father and I, even when we're angry with her for being up past her bedtime - again.
During today's meeting, I got a phone call, and although I didn't recognize the number I had this sense that I should step out of the meeting to retrieve my voice mail, something I rarely do. It was daycare, calling to let us know that Dora had a fever and needed to go home. This is the first time they've ever called us, and although all was very calm, I felt a real need to get home, to get to my sweet girl and give her my love and comfort.
I had to stay and finish the meeting, while Brian picked Dora up. I left work as soon as my part of the meeting was over, driving home feeling actually quite happy, in spite of Dora being sick, cheered by the thought of having a chance, for once, to focus all of my energy on her. I work so much, have all these little side projects - there never seems to be time when I can just be there for Dora and not worry about anything else. She seemed really quite fine when I got home though - playing while Brian got ready to teach, building block towers and wearing her new tu-tu over her jeans. We had some cuddle time and she got right back to business.
In my musings on the motherhood journey today I was reminded that one of the greatest lessons of becoming a parent is learning that nothing is under our control. We can pull out the calendar and decide when and how we want things to happen, but rarely does it go that way. Learning the patience to accept our limited control over life, learning to trust that it will be alright even when things don't appear that way - that is what becoming a mother has begun to teach me. We aren't really in control of anything - this morning I had a meeting to attend and this afternoon I instead had a meeting to get out of so I could get home to a sick baby. I had to rush home to be the saving grace for said sick baby who, it turns out, was happily playing without me.
It's hard not to want to be in control when that which we find most precious is at stake - but all we can do is make the best choices we can, do the best we can, be imperfect, and hope for the best. In that way, pregnancy and parenting aren't all that different. I can stand on one side of the river as the mother of a two-year-old and look at myself during pregnancy and see that perhaps we have more in common than not. We're both full of love, both full of hope, both not in control and wishing we were. We're imperfect and human and doing our best. What more is there, really?