Friday, March 15, 2013

A Fresh Start

I love a fresh start, almost as much as I love green mint-chocolate chip ice cream in the heat of summer (or the dead of winter). As a pregnant lady trying to limit myself to one bowl a day, that says a lot. I am a planner and a compulsive resolution-maker, so a clean slate, replete with the possibility of newness and change, motivates the mess out of me. I can sit and list and plan and dream of the unwritten future for hours. Of course, certain days really tap into this joy. You can guess what they are: the first day of a new year, the first day of a new semester, the first day of a new season, the first day of the month or the week--the first, the first, the first. I like to begin at the beginning. You won’t find me starting a diet on a Tuesday or beginning an exercise regimen on Friday. If we are running so late for the movies that we’ll miss the previews, I’d rather not even go. Even the “Go to Jail, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200” card in the board game Monopoly stresses me out. Stepping in "en media res" is just not my game. What can I say? Orderly sequence comforts me. Does this sound neurotic? Probably. But we all have a little bit of that, especially once we’ve become mamas. And there are some of us who are even "lucky" enough to suffer with it for the 30 some years prior to receiving that oh so blessed title. So, with a complex about starting fresh, you can likely imagine how much I appreciated it when my firstborn son entered the world on a January Sunday. Hallelujah and hallelujah! A new year, a new week, a new baby—talk about a fresh start. His organized and timely arrival was a small kindness that I do not take for granted. Each time that I count out another week of his life, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that he has made that task so easy for me by starting on a Sunday. I didn’t know it at the time, but our son’s easy and intuitively considerate arrival into this world was a hint of the ease to come. He is an easy baby, and he truly “eased” both his Daddy Dear and me into parenting. Without our even trying, the boy ate, slept, travelled, and woke up with ease. From the beginning, he behaved like a joey in his mama's pouch—content just to be along for the ride. As a 3 month old, he wanted to feed himself by holding his own bottle, and by 6 months, he was trying to help to dress himself. Everyone has told me that I will pay for the ease of the first with my second. Well, payday is right around the corner. We are expecting Baby #2 in June  . . . on a Tuesday. A Tuesday!  The middle of the middle! My husband doesn’t get this obsession with starting at the beginning. He can start anything anytime, free from the constraints of time. But, not me. Sunday is my day: the beginning of a week, a mini-new-year gifted anew every 7 days. I am already fantasizing about the year 2017, the next time that January First will fall on a Sunday. Until then, however, I am trying to allow my husband's can-do, just-do-it approach to inspire me to greater productivity. He is the sweet, level-headed voice of reason in this lopsided union. I often send up a prayer that my neurosis will be seen by him as romantic comedy cute and not crazy. It's probably half and half. It is thus with some degree of exultation that I recognize that although today is February 16 (the middle of the middle) and that my hopes of starting a blog at the “beginning” (i.e. January 1) have lapsed for the second year in a row, I am starting something new anyway, trying my best to keep the discouragement of the mucky middle at bay, an effort I do not undermine as painless. After George, our easy firstborn son, was born, I experienced the sweet joy that is paid maternity leave, and later, the delight of becoming a stay-at-home mom. I anticipated maternity leave for 9 solid and hopeful months. And in that time I sat with my journal and listed some big, big plans for my "time off." I anticipated the arrival of my first child as the glorious arrival of a new epoch in which time would be flattened, and I would have endless hours to be creative. If you were one of the knowing mothers who most likely laughed behind my back when I told them how I was going to finally read through a stack of 10 books on my bedside table, begin violin lessons, and start painting again during my 12 week maternity leave, then let me say this: you were right to laugh. Beginning motherhood is hard! Even if your baby is easy, easy, there is precious little time for leisure, and no rest for the weary. Between scrambling for clean diapers and snagging a few seconds of sleep for myself here and there, I missed every “new beginning” chance to start crossing off my resolution list . . . and mine was an EASY baby!  My heart goes out to first time moms whose baby is not. Among other things in my list of creative goals for maternity leave, I thought I would start a blog and keep it up-to-date effortlessly and painlessly. George turned a year this past January, and I didn’t even start a blog in time to start at the beginning of his second year . . . or read all 10 books or start painting again. I missed the beginning again, but that’s okay. One of the obvious lessons of parenthood, one that really sanctifies the soul of a neurotic perfectionist, is that not everything is or ever will be perfect. You don’t always get time to put your ducks in a row and start at the beginning. A lot of the time, you have to pick up the pieces of the mucky middle and muddle through. The present is now. So, here I am at the end of winter, scrambling to pick up the pieces "en medians res" and learning to be okay with missing the beginning. All this to say, starting a blog today is honestly a personal feat. If I had a (regular) psychiatrist (and I probably should), we would definitely stop and acknowledge this as growth in the right direction.

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