Once upon a time, there was me. Me, me, me. Never mind the assorted codependent boyfriends, first husband, and needy mother. I was free to roam about the world’s cabin, seatbelt sign off. My friends with children pitied me. They would extol their devotion for their lovely little lieb schons. No, I didn’t want to hold the baby, thank you. Children were scary alien beings and possibly contagious. They were shifty and manipulative and not knowing how to control them just made me feel stupid. My priors included a handful of babysitting jobs and, today, I question those parents’ choice to entrust me with their children. I guess I seemed nice.
Determined to find the nice guy to marry, buy a house with, and have his/our kids, I dumped the first defective husband. Amazingly, I found the nice guy pretty quickly. Friend of friends but we had just never met. He proposed while holding the paperwork for our house and we married in the backyard overlooking a river. But, being older, we facetiously consider the ramifications of every dollar spent, calorie ingested, word said, and night ‘o nookie. Four years later, we conceived someone.
Being pregnant was no cakewalk. Without invitation, strange women with hopeful hands lunged for the pregnant belly. Hello! Personal space. From the uninvited pregnancy tales to the six months of morning sickness, I was edgy and frightened. I was no longer young and dumb with no future. I knew too much. On a rainy April day in 2005, I delivered a boy and realized I was now Me and We. And me was looking and feeling rough.
There were no mothers to hover over me and take care of the housework or the baby while I took the shower. In those first few weeks, I was grubby, sleep deprived, scared, and nuts. The ultimate anxiety did not come from the raw knowledge that I didn’t know what I was doing. It came from the realization that there would no longer be “just me.” I was mad. Not at my son but in general. I resented the mandatory need his existence had created like a tax I’d always owe now. I feared that I could not be what he needed me to be.
Four years later, I’ve walked through the hell fires and lived to tell. What doesn’t kill ya’ makes you stronger. That goes for me and for him. I learned whatever you do, they will expect. That goes for husbands, bosses, and children. And if you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong. Unless there’s a hungry, sleep-deprived, three-and-a-half-year-old Taurus boy who got a look in his eye like he might be having a moment in his trousers. Then you just have to tell yourself, some day this will all be a nightmare.
I learned that I have the capacity to love. I love myself more today because of him. I love the world more too. And, although I still have fears, I’m finding the courage to face them because he needs me to lead by example and to present the world to him as good. Present a world that is a swell place with swell people and fun, not scary. I will forever be grateful to my child for coming into my life to provide me with the opportunity to be a part of a We instead of just Me. The me in that we is a better person than the me used to be.