Exactly 23 years ago, at the age of 27, on Friday, January 27th at 27 minutes past midnight, a mother was born. Okay, maybe the birth of a beautiful baby boy was the real auspicious occasion of the day, but I knew — the moment I held him — that I no longer was the same person. All at once, I was transformed.
First, let me say that — according to my experience — pregnancy was a strange and not so wonderful condition. Right away, it caused weird sensations and feelings. Then it demanded attention as it caused me to eat things — or not eat things — that I never gave thought to before. Next, it wreaked havoc with my body as it caused me to gain weight in new places and develop conditions (i.e. nausea, varicose veins, hot flashes, etc.) that I never had before. And, it made me relearn things like tying my shoes when I could no longer see my feet.
If you talk to some people or read a few books, you might be able to prepare and learn to cope with the physical changes. Nothing, however, prepared me for the onslaught of emotions that swelled when I heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, learned the baby’s gender, began to pick out names, daydreamed about decorating the nursery, and prayed for a healthy child. And, once the baby started to move, kick, and hiccup…forget about it!
All of that disappeared, however, when I held him for the first time. I became nervous as I counted every finger and every toe, and inspected him from head to foot. Suddenly I was responsible for this new life that I brought into the world. I was flooded with questions. What would his personality be like? What would I be able to teach him? Would we get along? Would he become an artist, an athlete, or a doctor? Would he be smart, handsome, or tall? Would he be a good, caring, and loving person — a mentsch? Would it all be just “luck” or would I have some control over this stuff? How would I help him become the best HIM that he could be? The questions became too stressful to contemplate in those first few moments, so I just focused on the dimple in his right cheek. The dimple that’s in the same place as my own.
Parenting through the years has been a 24/7 job; full of winging it, reading about it, celebrating it, crying about it, embracing it, and wanting to quit it. But, at the end of the day, it truly has made me a better person. I developed skills like never before, including: negotiating, mediating, problem-solving, scheduling, organizing, administering CPR and first aid, being an optimistic cheerleader, and hugging when you feel like choking.
Most important of all, becoming a mother has taught me the incredible joy and the unbearable pain of loving truly, deeply, and completely with all of my heart.
Happy birthday, Baby. Thank you for giving life to Me.