Friday, May 29, 2015

another calm before the storm

It was  a grey day, intense and billowy, with bursts of sunshine from time to time that cast long shadows through dripping trees. Anne and I walked through the Covington streets, and breathed in long whiffs of sweet air, deep and spicy after having just rained.  In Georgia it seems to always smell spicy after a rain. She pushed a stroller carrying the little girl she nannies and we didn't say much of anything. Squirrels poked little noses in soft ground, and ran away to the tall oaks when we got too near. It was July and muggy, but pleasant in its own way. Two old fellows worked in the yard they tended, replacing mulch, mowing and trimming.  They paused as we passed, making sure no grass was flung. Two children walked with their grandmother, and I liked to imagine they were staying with her for a couple of weeks, in our dreamy little town of Covington. Perhaps they'd make lots of memories and tell them to their kids one day.
"Feels like the calm before the storm," I said amidst our stepping on twigs and dewy leaves.
"Yes, the kind the sailors talk about," AG supplied. It was three days before my wedding and there was still much to do, our house to clean, church to decorate, food to cook, last arrangements and packing to be done. Soon people from all over our sphere of acquaintance would be almost casually hanging out at our house and helping with the wedding preparation. It still seemed hazy and far away and it felt the best thing we could do was soak in the moments of normality for what we could. After all, how do you grasp or even imagine all the ways in which your life will change? You can't.
Well, here we are again. AG tends to be there for many of my calms-before, and is usually the one in the middle of the craziness, keeping her cool. We're three weeks out from the due date of Baby Watson, and though I know life will change, it's still one of those things almost easier not to attempt imagining because I know I simply can't.

AG being here has helped shape into perspective the closeness of it all. She likes shaking me up, and I need a good dose of it every now and then. Rooms have been tidied, clutter gone through and those fine baby things I had hanging on the hall tree bench with their tags hanging in order and looking so fresh and pretty? All thrown in a basket and washed, to be folded and stored in bins ready for use. "Gabe, there's a possibility of having it in three weeks, if you don't go past the due date…you need things to be ready, whenever he comes."  (You see why I need her good sense, yes?)
Everyone talks of how it changes your life and having always feared Change, some grain of uncomfortableness shades in uncertainty what to expect. They say expect never to sleep and never to have your You Time again. But a couple of recent conversation excerpts have been my repeats in my mind.
One came from a car salesman, funny enough. Tall, wavy grey hair and tan which made his teeth bright and southern accent all the more decent, he asked when I was due.
"Bout three weeks, huh? Well, let me tell ya, my wife and I were going to travel the world, and I was the most self-centered person you'd have ever met. One day she came home and said she was pregnant and I threw up my hands. Didn't want to give up my me time, wanted to do what I wanted to do. But I tell ya what, that day she was born and I saw her take her first breath and knew she was mine, " here he paused and looked to the side, pressing his lips in hard together and as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other, thrust a hand to his head and scratched, then looked back at me with wet eyes and a husky voice, "That's really when I took my first breath too. My daughter's 26 years old and it's been the best 26 years of my life. Can't explain it. You just don't live til ya have kids. But y'all need to say goodbye to yourselves as you are, because they way you are right now? You'll never be again. Go spend some time as husband and wife, then box it up and send it down the river." He dashed inside his little car lot office and rummaged on his desk and brought out a few favorite photos, old and taped. Inside I think my head cocked, and I marked that little bit of conversation as one to store away and think over often.
Another piece of think over often advice came from a good friend who also has had her first and as I was talking over some of my predictions of change, like how to manage going to the pool or store and how much more complex life becomes after baby's no longer inside, she said of her own,
"I don't miss her being inside my belly. She is a true joy and adds such richness to our lives. Even though things do become more complex, I wouldn't trade it for anything, G. You will treasure every little moment. I love the inconvenience of being Ada's mama."
It was the "I love the inconvenience of being Ada's mama" that lodged just right and makes such sense. It's an inconvenience that somehow we're designed to accept and embrace and thrive in, amidst all the complexities, sacrifices, uncertainties, limitations and failures of parenthood.
Amidst this calm before the storm, I'm happy. And uncertain and full of hope. But I'm sure I cannot imagine the change.  Of one thing, I'm certain: it will be more difficult and scary and wonderful than anything I ever could attempt imagining anyways.