Your New Life
You have changed. You have transformed. You are a mother.
In those first days with my new baby, the Allison
I had been sort of went missing. She came back
slowly, but she would never be the same person again.
>Allison Pearson author of
I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate
Reddy, Working Mother
Here you are, a mother. You walked into the birthing center one person—in your college sweatshirt and maternity biking shorts—and came out another. Now you are wearing a dress that last fit you sometime in your sixth month, and you’re carrying a baby in a car seat.
But more has changed than your clothing and your accessories. You have changed. You have transformed. You have fallen in love with a creature that weighs no more than your gym bag and has ears like your grandfather’s. You are weepy. You are elated. You feel as though you have been let in on the secret of the universe: Baby. Your baby.
Now you understand. The mother summoning the strength to lift a truck off her son: of course. Your sister-in-law not letting you hold her new daughter until you completely disinfected yourself: perfectly
normal. You even understand your mother. Well, you will never understand her penchant for the color orange and wall-to-wall carpet, but you do, finally, understand the breadth and depth of her love for you.
What is really important is suddenly clear. If your priorities are in a pyramid, your baby is at its pinnacle, with everything else falling into place beneath her: husband, job, yoga; clean house is at the bottom, personal hygiene and movies in the middle, drink dates to catch up with people you don’t really care about gone entirely.
In the novel Three Junes by Julia Glass, a character speaks of a garden that is beautiful to look at but not at all fragrant: “This garden, you know, it reminds me of my life before the girls. Oh, a lovely life, a life of pretty colors and passions. … But to have children … is to plant roses, muguets, lavender, lilac, gardenia, peonies, tuberose, hyacinth … it is to achieve a whole sense one did not priorly know. It is to give one’s garden another dimension. Perfume of life itself.” In this fragrant garden, Cheerios perpetually smashing under your feet, you are more receptive to joy, to sorrow, to piercing love and to the hundreds of inevitable losses that come with a child growing up. After all, which is more poignant, her first tooth in or her first tooth out? You’ll see. Both will make you laugh, and both will make you cry.