Waiting has never been easy for me. Whether I’m waiting for little things…the coffeemaker, my book I ordered to come in the mail, even (or especially) that rollercoaster line that lasts two hours…or waiting for the big things…college graduation, marriage, pregnancy…I always find myself struggling to make the most of that idle time. I want meaning! Direction! Routine! Productivity! Results! If I have too much quiet time, I tend to freak instead of think. I scramble instead of rest. I make lists instead of putting my feet up. I stay busy instead of reflecting.
These last few weeks (and now mere days) of waiting on our daughter have been disorienting. The first couple weeks off work were easy to fill. I had SO many tiny onesies and dresses and leggings to wash, several items to still purchase at the store, and lots of organizing to do. There was painting, cleaning, getting-rid-of and re-finaggling of the house. But once those tasks were done, I entered this time and space that was/is eerily quiet. The days at home get a little lonely. And while rest is essential these days, it sometimes makes me feel bored and useless. During times of boredom, if I’m not careful, I will simply let my mind fill up instead of filling my mind with good things, preparation kinds of things.
One thing I found myself doing was thinking about my past while trying to imagine my new future…and between the two, I wondered: Where does my bucket list fit in? If I didn’t do them in my past, are they a lost cause now that I’m having a kid? And I get that nudging fear…what if I never do them at all now that we are starting a family? What if I never live in New York City working at a journalism job. Travel to Africa for a year to write and take photographs? Hike for days in the Grand Canyon? Learn to surf in Australia? Become a teacher? Write a book? The list really could go on forever. There are thousands of things I’d love to do before my time’s up, and I began to feel a little trapped by the concept that I chose to have kids FIRST, the arguably more time-consuming off my bucket list, thus shrinking my potential for doing most other items on my list.
I think these thoughts are present because I have so many friends now doing some really lovely things with their lives. Laura just left for a year in Paris. Ashley is leaving soon for a few months in Europe. Sam is starting grad school in Austin, TX. So many new possibilites and amazing opportunities. It’s intoxicating.
I also think these thoughts are present because just last week, my mom and I were lunching at the Olive Garden. We were talking about where we were in life, if it’s where we thought we’d be, etc. I was telling her about my lovely friends and their lovely adventures. She is very aware of the many things I desire to do, and she asked me: Do you have any regrets?
I will be 27 in about two weeks, so I feel way too young to consider that I have huge regrets in my life. But I feel like if you showed my life to my 18-year-old self, I might have answered yes, there are regrets! Because you never lived out of state! You live ten minutes from mom and dad and from your old high school! You married your high school sweetheart and didn’t do much traveling and never made it to Africa! WHAT ARE YOU DOING getting pregnant at this inopportune time? You haven’t LIVED! So irresponsible! (I wasn’t quite that militant at 18 but definitely had lofty dreams).
But my immediate answer to mom was no. Because if I flip flopped my life right now…if I imagine myself having let Cody go, my love and best friend from the time I was 15…if I imagine myself in a loft apartment in New York working a swanky journalism job…if I imagine myself having traveled to many countries and taken many photographs and written many stories and met many amazing people… When I imagine all that, I can also see something else. I know myself. And I know that I would have been sad on my 27th birthday if I were nowhere near the ability to be married and have a family. I’d love my life, to be sure, and hopefully wouldn’t waste it thinking about what I didn’t have yet (since 27 is still so young). But I know deep down, no matter what I’ve ever wanted to be, mom was always at the top of the list. It was the ONE thing that had to fit in, no matter what I did.
And lately, I’ve felt blessed…almost in a crushing way…that I get to experience this now. That I get to watch my body strain and suffer to carry this little girl. That I get to see Cody just a little disappointed every day that goes by in which Heidi has not come yet. That when I’m in the hospital, I get to hand this tiny little girl to my parents…to my brothers and sister…to Cody’s family. That I get to see Cody and I in her face, when it doesn’t seem that long ago he and I were just kids. That I get to experience the extreme highs and lows of being a parent. That I get to trudge through those first few sleepless months filled with endless laundry and midnight feedings and falling alseep on the couch with my daughter snuggled on my chest. That I am bringing an entirely new realm of possibilities into my life, by the grace of God.
And that within her life, my entire bucket list could still exist. We could share many of the same passions. She’s not less opportunity for me. She’s more…more growth, more stretching, more breaking and mending, more love.
I am trying my best to be patient, but as you can see, there is so much to look forward to. And I’ve just never been very good at waiting.
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.”