A few of my childhood friends are radiating love, joy, and nervousness like never before, which could only mean one thing: they are pregnant for the first time.
In my conversations with these friends, it is all I can do not to get teary when they talk about how excited they are for the baby’s birth. Because, as all moms know, no matter how prepared they say they are, they have no idea what's about to hit them.
Sure, I could tell them, but it wouldn’t make a difference. No one can put into words how profoundly your life changes when your children are born.
It's such a common thing to say that it has become a cliché: “Your first child will change your life more than you could have ever thought possible.”
And then the second you lay eyes on that baby, you get it. The understanding is instantaneous and overwhelming. You realize that what everyone has been trying to tell you is true, times a thousand.
No longer do we live for ourselves. We live for a seven-pound, wrinkly bundle. Our world-view widens. We understand the true definition of “tired.” Bodily flus cease to make us gag. And suddenly, the only thing we want to do on a Saturday night is to watch the baby sleep until we drift off ourselves.
The biology of motherhood I more or less understand, but the emotion of motherhood is incomprehensible. Still, amid play groups, car pools, and endless vacuuming, even the best moms sometimes lose touch with the surge of emotion that entered our lives the same time our children did.
My little miracle is in the exasperating "no" stage. She hates the word when it is directed at her but is rather fond of saying it herself.
On a particularly frustrating day last week when she had me checking the clock every 15 minutes waiting for the little hand to reach the 6 (the hour my husband typically comes home), I finally put her in the bathtub -- the one place she's always content.
I sat on the stool near the tub and flipped through a magazine, preparing myself for the remaining hours in the day. After a few minutes, I whisked a towel around her and relied on the Teletubbies to entertain her while I rounded up her new outfit.
When I returned, Cassie was standing in the middle of the living room floor, mouth wide open, staring at the TV, her pronounced toddler belly balancing atop two bowed legs. She was playing with her belly button.
What I experienced then can only be called a parental epiphany. Perhaps it was her nakedness that made me realize that my toddler, resolute on exerting her independence, was just as vulnerable and dependent as ever. And the indescribable rush of love, responsibility, and sheer joy hit me square in the face with as much force as it had the day she was born.
I would like us all to remind one another how much our babies need us, no matter how tall they have grown. So, during those inevitable days that they spend attached to your left leg, or drawing on the wallpaper, or spending time in the principal's office, we should reflect on the day of their birth, when two new spirits entered the world: a child and a mother.