When I was expecting my child three years ago, I constantly dreamt of a world painted in shades of blue with mobiles and blankies adorned with cars and baseballs. So when I found out that I was pregnant with a little girl, I was shocked to say the least. My shades of blue would be traded for hues of pink and life would be strewn with ponies and ribbons. Truth be told, I was beyond stunned.
My reaction was dramatic and possibly traumatic to those in the room. I actually cried in front of the ultrasound technician.
The tech was thoroughly (and rightfully) appalled by my reaction. For this wasn’t a happy cry – this was a woeful outburst of uncontrollable, cheerless emotion. Once I could pull myself together, I think my exact words to her were “you have got to be joking”. To which she replied in utter disgust, “Your poor daughter! She won’t like to hear this story when she is older. Think about how sad that will make her feel to hear that you didn’t want a little girl.” I chuckled unsure of what to say. She glanced at my husband with pity, and quickly dismissed us with a final look of revulsion as we headed for the exit. I felt like a complete monster.
The most bizarre component to this tale is that, honestly, right at this very moment, I can’t remember exactly why I dreaded having a little girl so much. I do remember being wholly against it, but – why? Speculating now, perhaps it was because I was convinced I was having a boy and it just killed my ego to hear I was indeed wrong (*shudder*) and that I wasn’t as ‘in tune’ with my fetus as I had thought. It is also quite possible that my previous experiences with screaming and screeching little girls had left a bad impression and the thought of having to discipline one of these boisterous girls scared the bejesus out of me. What if I couldn’t cut the mustard and conquer the squeals and relentless chatter? In my own wacky, self-centered, and insecure mind, my daughter was already setting me up to be a failure. Again, my ego was blinding my judgment (unfortunately a repeating theme in my life).
Whatever my lame reasons were, I left that ultrasound appointment feeling confused. My gut reaction to hearing the news of my baby’s gender was deplorable, but very fleeting and over the next few days after hearing the fateful words “it’s a girl”, I fell in love with the idea and everything seemed to fall into place perfectly. Fast forward three years and a massive amount of pink-colored everything, and here are the five best things about having my daughter, Emma:
1. Recapturing enthusiasm in just about everything. Just like a lot kids, Emma is precocious and naturally very curious about all she encounters. From her father’s lawn mower to the cobweb in the corner (don’t judge), she takes pleasure in examining the mechanics of all things, asking millions of questions along the way. One frosty morning, she looked out of the kitchen window and saw snow had fallen. With eyes wide and fingers pointing, she exclaimed loud enough for the entire town to hear “Look everyone! It is really Winter outside!” I was less excited buying my first house. Being the cynical Jersey I am, I usually curse the hindrance of snow but now I relish it. My exhausting responsibilities as an adult, and my generally pessimistic attitude, drained my ability to see the joys in everyday life. Emma restored it instantly.
2. Good news for Emma – I am better at this parenting thing than I thought I would be! I am not the best parent in the world, but I have surprisingly handled the hardships without fail and although there was a scary and exhausting stint in the NICU, followed by struggling months of inconsolable nights peppered with ear infections and wailing, I prevailed. I have a feather in my cap. I am a member of a very prestigious club. It is an unexpected stroke to my ego, but I welcome it whole-heartedly. From selfish to selfless instantaneously, I can say without sarcasm and conceit – I am a good mom.
3. I am learning the act of forgiveness from my 2 year old. I can hold a grudge for an entire lifetime if I warrant it necessary, but I am seeing the beauty in forgiveness now. I can scream and yell like a lunatic in front of my daughter, threatening knocks into next week, selling to gypsies, and the like – and Emma will still love me a few minutes later. Regardless of our battles, each morning she wakes with the biggest smile that is meant for only me. My heart melts and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have her. Whether she actively forgives or possibly forgets my monstrous tirades, I am thankful for her grace and unconditional love.
4. After having a child, my damaged heart hurts less and feels a step closer to being full again. If you have ever lost someone close to you, you know the pain that accompanies the sense of loss. My mom died 13 years ago and my pain surrounding this has been a non-stop ache and, at times, it has been a daily fight to not obsess over her being gone. Therapy mildly helped. Time barely took the edge off of the pain. Emma, however, has been a savior in the healing process. Part distraction and part an enormous amount of love, my heart is slowly getting mended.
5. Similar to the benefit of a healed heart, but just a little more specific and the absolute best thing about having Emma – my once lost mother-daughter bond has been restored but taking a new form. My mother was my best friend and the only parent we had that gave a damn. To lose her, was to lose everything in one final breath. Our family, our sense of normalcy, support and security, in essence, our life disappeared once she passed 13 years ago. Any resemblance of love was replaced with a huge void, anger and hurt. I felt alone and orphan-like, battled depression and loss of self. I am not sure why I wasn’t seeing so clearly when I found out I was pregnant. I was ecstatic but also oblivious to the fact that this was my chance to get back a part of what was tragically taken from me years ago. Somehow the cosmic forces aligned in my favor and I was blessed with a daughter. Perhaps my ignorance facilitated this perfect ending for me. If I wasn’t such an ignoramus and enthusiastically wanted a girl, I would for certain be playing with Thomas the Tank Engine instead of Dora the Explorer.
So bring it on incessant squeals for no reason! You want to have another tea party with every stuffed animal, doll and Barbie in the entire house? Sure, I will gather them up just in time for you to change your mind and reach for your pink InnoTab instead. But first, Emma, let’s raise our tea cups and toast to your Mom-Mom in heaven. I think we have her to thank for this perfect relationship.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog.