You’ve been living under my roof for a week now and I’ll admit that there are moments when I still can’t believe you are actually here. Seriously, I’ll look over and think, “Ah! Someone left a baby in a cradle in my bedroom. Someone call… oh wait. Gotcha.”
The grogginess subsides when I pick you up and lean you against my chest every morning at 4am. Your eyes dart all over the place. I don’t know if you can see me or even know who I am yet. It doesn’t matter to me that much because, for some reason, I feel like I’ve known you my entire life. I’m also not sure if you can understand what I’m saying to you while I change your diapers. But just in case you can hear me, there’s something I want you to know.
I’d never experienced anything like your birth. Even a week later, I still struggle to put the whole event into words. So you can understand why I couldn’t explain it just an hour after you arrived. Shortly after your birth, my dad asked what I thought of the whole thing. I’m not proud of this but at that moment, my college-level vocabulary failed me. In a wave of engulfing emotion, the only thing I could muster was, (pardon my French) “qui a été de la merde folle!”
It must have been a life-changing experience for you too. Might have even been a little traumatic. I don’t blame you. The womb was all you knew and, though a little cramped, wasn’t that bad of a place to call home. I can appreciate your minimalistic taste. I mean, what else do you need besides a constant flow of nutrients and a warm bath of amniotic fluid? Yes ma’am, that’s the good (pre)life!
Things were normal that day. It was dark, you were sleeping upside down and had even gotten a few solid kicks to the bladder in for good measure. Pretty good day, really. But then all of a sudden, your cocoon turned on you. The walls collapsed, your head got really tight and then SPLASHTCH! Everything turned bright and got loud. Some guy in green pajamas started slapping your ribcage. Some woman who smelled like potpourri and Virginia Slims rolled you up in a blanket.
Your cries were translated into English: “Whaaaaat the...?!? Don't throw away that placenta! I need it for things! This blanket is itchy! Curse you, curse you all!”
I feel for you kid. The real world takes some getting used to. But you have to believe me when I say that you would have hated living your whole life in the womb. From the outside looking in – which I wouldn’t recommend doing, by the way – it’s pretty easy to see how boring it is in there. The good stuff happens after you’re born.
There are so many good things on the outside… like cake, especially when it’s your birthday. Oh and ice cream too. Braums makes this thing called a “mix”. It’s basically just frozen yogurt and blended M&M’s but trust me, it’s so good that there is probably a hint of crack in there somewhere. And wait ‘til you try Coke in a glass bottle!
You’ll love wading into the cold ocean and the moment when a big wave splashes up on your stomach, taking your breath away. There’s this feeling that comes over you when, after mentally debating it for thirty minutes, you finally decide to listen to your friends and ride the roller coaster. That, of course doesn’t compare to the moment when the cars come to a stop and you realize you survived and desperately want to go again.
You’ll laugh until you pee your pants and you won’t even know what you’re laughing about. Not too much pee though. You don’t want to be one of those girls. Just the right amount of pee. You’ll figure it out. It’s not exactly a science.
You’ll love the atmosphere right before the kickoff of an important football game, when the teams line up, the kicker points at the ref, and it seems as if the field could be lit by the thousand flashbulbs going off in the stands. I don’t care if you end up liking sports or not, that’s always a cool moment.
You’re going to love using your imagination and creating make-believe worlds with your hypothetical sisters. The bedroom door will be shut for hours on end, with you only emerging to ask, “Dad, can I use the scissors?” For the record, the answer to this question, and “Dad, can I go to a party at Jeff’s stepdad’s lake house?” is always NO.
I can’t wait for the ordinary moments in life, too many to name, that await you. Your first steps… first day of school… graduations. Notice the plural? Your boyfriend nervously asking me if he can ask you to marry him. Walking you down the aisle. Meeting you for dinner so you can tell us you’re pregnant. Notice the order? Big holiday dinners and dragging all the pillows and blankets in the house out in front of the TV to watch a movie. Dressing up on Halloween, or as your children’s minister will call it, “Family-Fun-Harvest-Praise-Jesus-Party.” Don’t worry, you can call it Halloween.
There will be breakups and college rejection letters, difficult but sweet only because they symbolize growth and direct you down the best path. Piano recitals. Soccer practice. You’ll join Girl Scouts in first grade. Yes, I’m going to make you do this but know that it has less to do with developing character than it does me trying to get access to Thin Mint cookies at cost.
Ski trips. Inside jokes. Bedtime stories. Tickle fights. Pushing you in a swing at the park down the street. Yeah, the good stuff really begins after you’re born.
For you and me both.