Just as night was falling last night, I walked up to my friend Jen’s house, pressed down the door handle and announced my arrival. Jen and her husband Jon smiled easily, which erased their new parent exhaustion for a moment, and I only stopped long enough to give Jon a hug and Jen a pat on the shoulder before I sat down at the table and greeted Jonah, their 6 month old cherubic, insanely happy baby for the very first time.
Jonah was finishing his first ever meal of mashed sweet potatoes (which he loved), and as compelling as those orange globs of sweetness had been, he couldn’t take his eyes off me. Jen brought him over to me when he was cleaned up from dinner and he immediately started smiling and giggling and making eyes at me. I love him. Both Jen and Jon remarked that though he was a sociable fellow, Jonah didn’t respond this animatedly to many people.
“Well, not everyone’s biological clock is on constant alarm like mine either,” I quipped, “He knows a woman ready to be a momma when he sees one.”
Later, after Jonah had gone to sleep, Jen recounted to me his birth story (epic, as most are), the madness that was her going back to work eight weeks after he was born, and how everything is different now, how things that used to mean the world to her matter so little now, how no one could have prepared her for it, how indescribable her love is for her son, and that, all told, she couldn’t believe she didn’t do it sooner. “Had I known how amazing being a mom was,” she said with a tired but wistfully-in-love look in her eyes, “I would have done this years ago.”
It’s the same thing all of my mom and dad friends have said — that you will never be ready. You’ll never have enough money saved or the perfect car or those last childhood traumas resolved. But they all also say that none of it matters in the end. That you make it work and that it’s both so much harder and way more worth it than anyone could have told them it would be. Not the best endorsement of “waiting” — for me, in particular, to hear — but it’s reassuring to hear once again that we humans are capable of far more than we expect of ourselves.
After my visit with Jen and her family, I drove ten minutes to some other dear friends, who had just moved to Sacramento a couple weeks ago. When I got there, Kawami was putting their three year old daughter, Niara, to sleep (as it often goes with kids, she also ended up putting herself to sleep). Maseah, Kawami’s husband, and I chatted for about a half an hour before he woke Kawami up. The three of us talked over tea and dessert for another hour or so — we all got animated and involved and it felt good, energizing to be in their company.
I’m glad I got to see that, of course, having a baby changes everything, but that eventually, we adjust to the new normal, and we get to have late night conversations with friends again, we get to reclaim small pleasures like socializing with good people as kids get a little older.
I am ready, I could do it — have a baby, become a mom. I know this without doubt. And I’d love it and I’d be great at it. But the timing isn’t right. It’s not unreasonable, and probably quite wise, I tell my cells screaming for motherhood each day, to spend two or three years getting solid with the potential papa before making the baby plunge.
So I woo my friends kids, love my nieces like crazy, and treasure what may just be my final years before everything, every little thing changes irrevocably and wonderfully forever.