When I was a younger me, daydreaming of my days as a mother, there were a host of abilities that I bestowed upon my future self that I was sure I would need. The ability to sew, for example. The patience of an angel. A fearful approach to injury and illness. The ability to keep track of multitudes of important papers at the same time.
The list seemed to grow of it’s own accord as I grew, was mothered, and watched mothers in the world around me. It’s not that I was taking notes; there is no written account of this directory of criteria. Only a collection of abstract thoughts converging ever so slowly and unwittingly towards perfection.
A close examination later in life revealed that all of these qualities had two very specific elements in common. 1. They were traits I did not, at the time of projection, currently possess. And, 2. They were traits I was equally sure I would have the time/inclination/skill/instruction, etc., to acquire on the way to the far off days in question.
Well, those days have arrived.
And did I spend my time preparing for them in a variety of practical ways? Taking important classes, acquiring essential survival skills, saving every penny for the unforeseen circumstances a child is guaranteed to throw my way, despite best intentions?
I did not. Instead, I traveled the world. I collected passport stamps and human interactions and photographs of cracks in the pavement and fireworks and other ephemeral experiences that brought me great joy, and great transformation into my very own me, separate from my family and connected to a very large world in incredibly humbling ways.
All those miles, only to arrive at motherhood hopelessly incomplete.
If I cannot sew, who will make Q’s Halloween costumes? I didn’t take that into consideration while wandering the globe. Should I have? And later, when it came time to get pregnant, there seemed so much else to worry about. Immediately, pregnancy, birth and recovery brought me out of my daydreams and into the immediate, physical concerns of the kind that daydreams rarely touch: pain, exhaustion, anxiety, overwhelming demand for my body, heart and soul at all hours of the day or night. Reality checks, if you will. Checking in on us, to make sure we were really in the moment with this whole growing a human thing.
No time for sewing lessons now. Instead, I learned as I went, making it up on the fly as if I still had my backpack strapped on, lost in a world of languages I didn’t know, confusing subway lines or bus timetables, stopping to rest whenever and wherever I got too tired. And, as before, there was so much I could never have anticipated I would need to know. Like how to entertain a toddler with made up songs while pooping and keeping a straight face at the same time. The duration of which lasted much less time than a sewing class but the instances, when taken together, could in theory, by now, have provided me with some basics had I had the required minutes to stitch together in a row.
Do you know what else I cannot do? I cannot draw cars. To all out there who plan to get pregnant anytime soon, in addition to sewing lessons, I recommend preparing through a rigorous training session in car depiction. All kinds, in all colours, the more realistic the better. And maybe princesses just in case? Not sure about that one but I do know that if the ‘vroom vroom’ request does not receive immediate 4 walls and 2 wheels we are in big trouble. And I am quickly running out of variations.
Today I drew a triangular car. Experimenting with my creative > realistic art form/parenting philosophy phase. He liked it.
Having survived to see another day in which ‘vroom vroom’ requests are met without expertise in the field — one of many fields in which I cannot claim expertise of any kind — I am increasingly growing convinced that my transformation to motherhood is incomplete. What other skills have I failed to acquire that will soon render me hopelessly out of my depth? Perhaps medical attention may soon be required? Or skillful intervention at the very least, including a rehabilitation, detoxification, retraining component. (Does that come with quiet nights in my own bed? Hmmm, that makes it sound much more inviting…)
How did I not see this coming? How did I fail to take every precaution, turn over every rock, prepare in every way for the most important job I will ever have?
I do know the answer to this.
I was too busy living in those moments.
Feeling those feelings.
Worrying about how to buy/earn/beg/borrow myself one more day, week, month, or year right where I was.