Somewhat unbelievably, today is my daughter’s fourth birthday. I know I’m not the only mom to wonder where the time went. I typically overlook milestones in my life, because I’m usually too busy to properly celebrate (I’m working on it) but last night I got a little misty-eyed, recollecting the 96 HOURS of labor leading up to an emergency birth the Friday before the Super Bowl (for my Canadian friends, this is significant because the poor kid’s birthday is ALWAYS on Super Bowl weekend. Maybe she’ll like football and that will be cool someday.
I had G the year I turned 40. At one point in my life, before I turned 25, I wanted kids more than anything. When I turned 25 and realized that my marriage was most likely not going to survive (even though it limped along for 6 more years) and didn’t have the boy and girl I’d planned on I was terribly depressed. At that time, I was sure I was over the hill, because everyone knows you can’t have kids in your thirties and after thirty-five you’re courting genetic disaster. At least that’s what I thought. So I put the kid thing on the shelf and indulged in rampant self-destruction for the next half decade.
By the time I’d pulled my head out of you know where and got back on track, I was in my mid-thirties and engaged in a career that I hated, even though it supported me admirably, and had plans to launch my writing and coaching career. Someday. I had achieved enough success in my day job to have an eviable amount of freedom and discretion and when Dreamy came along we decided to engage step one of the Freedom Plan – establish a successful fitness business to support me in my endeavors.
And then came Bisky. I clearly remember being shocked at that double pink line and thinking, who gets accidentally pregnant at 38 ½? It’s not that I didn’t know how these things work, but in my defense, I’d been told my fibroids would prevent conception and I thought it would take at least a WEEK for the birth control to get out of my system. The doctors assured me there was little chance I’d carry the baby to term based on the condition of my uterus, but I decided to assume I was making a perfect healthy baby. I came home from that doctor visit in tears. “She already has to be an overcomer and she’s not even born yet,” I wailed to Dreamy. We named her the Biscuit and I desperately hoped she’d be a little girl I could name Grace who would have light brown skin and curly brown hair. I remember thinking of all our plans and wondering how on earth it would work now. “This isn’t going to change anything!” I told Dreamy. “I can’t imagine not wanting to always work,” I told Mom.
My greatest fear, not being a baby person, was that I wouldn’t like my baby. At one point, Dreamy and I went to those child education classes and spent about two hours learning all the ways one could accidentally kill one’s offspring. “Is it too late to give the baby up for adoption?” I asked Dreamy on the way home. “There’s no way I can do this. Babies choke on everything!” “You can’t do that,” he said in horror. “If you give my baby up for adoption I’d have to divorce you, and I love you.” He’s the dreamiest.
Well, she was born (10 days late, not dangerously early after all) healthy and whole and apparently having dispatched of the dangerous fibroid that had lurked menacingly all through the pregnancy. After 2 weeks, I’d never felt so incompetent in my life. I insisted on staying current at my job, because it was something I was good at. Then, when it was time to go back to work, I realized that there was no way anyone could do being Bisky’s Mommy like I could. It absolutely broke my heart to spend any time away, but at that time I still had a boss who actually cared about stuff like that and he let me work from home and still contribute. I took her to the gym with me every morning. I would say those first two years were my favorite ones.
I learned then that work life balance is different for every family. Our circumstance allowed us some incredible freedom and also the kind of pace that is not for everyone. My daughter got so much one on one time with her Daddy her first two years that my sons just haven’t. I learned that having a child means compromise and guilt no matter what your circumstances. If I worked I felt guilty if I wasn’t with her, if I was with her I felt guilty that I was not 100% fulfilled every minute. I usually feel like I’m shorting someone, and I’ve also learned to ease the heck up on myself when I feel this way. I’ve learned that the expectation is to do my best, not be perfect.
I’ve learned that when I’m a jerk to my daughter I can say sorry, and do. I’ve learned that when she’s a jerk (like she was today when she screamed that the cake pops AND the heart cake weren’t good enough and she wanted a F’ing OWL CAKE or I’ve ruined her birthday) I can forgive her and it doesn’t mean I’ve failed. I’ve learned that other people will judge my parenting no matter WHAT and it doesn’t particularly matter. I’ve learned that my job is to make sure she knows she’s loved, wears ANY clothes out of the house, washes her hands and learns what she loves. I’ve learned to celebrate her, and me, and that we (to quote a friend) should go where we’re celebrated and not to assign too much credibility to our detractors and if she wants to wear that damn Elsa dress every day that there are bigger battles.
I never knew how much that little Biscuit would change me and change everything and I wouldn’t trade a second or do anything different. If she ever reads this, I would remind her “I love you SO much that when you were born God had to give me a bigger heart to hold all the love”. Happy birthday, Bisky!