There was a moment during labour that I will never forget. It was not one of the big moments but instead that small one that comes just before you push. It went like this: The pain stopped for about 20 seconds. I opened my eyes, looked around the room and had that stomach flipping feeling you get at the top of a roller coaster. A total don’t look down feeling. I felt sick and tearful. I said quietly: “Will this bit really hurt?”
On New Years Eve I had one of those moments. Nope, I wasn’t pushing out a baby (SURPRISE!), but instead having a 12.15am moment with my son as he wrestled with new teeth. As I stroked his head to calm him I gave him the 2013 ‘chat’, running through all the things we had ahead of us. As I did this I felt precisely that same feeling. My stomach flipped, I felt sick. It may have been the whiskey, it may have been the wine, but I suspect it was triggered instead by the long cold stare that I gave 2013.
I am sure I felt daunted last year as I looked ahead and saw the return to work, the beginning of nursery and more steps on the long walk back to finding out if I was still the same woman or not. This year feels different. I feel more equipped (thank god), more excited about the good stuff to come, but much less certain at the same time.
Because 2012 was a mixed bag. Incredible, overall, and full of some life making highlights. And with the bad stuff that’s happened we’ve been working on our armoury because there’s more where that came from. At my worst I’ve been tired, cranky, unreasonable and self-centred; at my best I’ve been goggle eyed in love, shiny with optimism and as fired-up as my toddler* boy. One moment I’m thinking having a kid around makes everything harder, the next I’m thinking it makes everything so much easier. I’m confused, it seems.
I’ve realised I’m weaker than I thought, but tougher than I expected. That I can grit my teeth with the best of them but that I sometimes just can’t be arsed and I give up way too soon. That without routine I reel in the face of parenting ups and downs but with too much of it I want to peel off my own skin (and, honestly, other people’s too) from boredom. Most valuable of all has been a hefty dose of hindsight that’s helped me see that some things we’ve been through were breezier than I thought at the time, but others were much tougher. Those early weeks for us were full of love and wonder, but also totally brutal. I’ve come to see that we were dealt some pretty tricky cards and I should be kinder to myself about how I coped. That the shock of it was shocking for a reason.
So, 2013 comes with a free dose of don’t-look-down gut churn. I’m not sure why but may I hazard a guess it’s because life with a toddler makes me feel so frantic that when I stop to contemplate events beyond the next 24 hours it’s dizzy making and nerve wracking. That things can feel so in-the-moment that I forget to look over the parapet and see what’s ahead. That I’m mixing my metaphors so badly I need to go on some kind of course? My head hurts, whatever.
When I asked “Will the next bit really hurt?”, it wasn’t a rhetorical question; I really wanted to know. Since labour prep is all about contractions, dilating and the pushing bit gets largely glossed over I think it was a fair question. Once again I’m taking a moment, looking around the room and asking “Will the next bit really hurt?” Answers on a tweet please.
*I say toddler, but the tyke still refuses to actually toddle. Toddler mentality versus toddler toddling is a whole other post.
Picture by Meddy Garnet on Flickr. With thanks.