What came before.
July 13, 2009

They say that at the end, you think about the beginning.

In my experience, this is true.  Which, of course, means that as this pregnancy slowly approaches its finish, I think about how it began.  The nearer I come to birthing my child, the more I dwell upon his or her conception.

I consider more frequently those choices that brought Donald and I together.  I mull over the circumstances under which we purchased ovulation strips and, later, pregnancy tests.  I reflect on our first pregnancy and how it ended in heartbreak enough to fill the ocean with tears.  And then I think about the split second in time wherein Donald and I united and created.

How I wish that I could remember that EXACT moment.

And, in a strange parallel, at the same time that I remember my husband feeling the very first kicks this baby delivered to my womb, I also remember my father standing in the kitchen with his hand on my mother’s belly.  I was three years old and, in every sense, a child.

The first time that I felt like an adult, I was 21 years old and living in a small one-bedroom apartment.  It was Thanksgiving weekend and friends were visiting for dinner and I was mashing potatoes.  I could hear them laughing in the living room and I could see the dinner waiting to be served and in that moment, I felt like my childhood was a thing of the past.

It has never since occurred to me that I had any claims to childhood left.  Today, I have a mortgage and insurance bills and a dog with big ears and the most exciting mail I receive is the monthly bank statement.  But still, I remember parts of my childhood as though I have only just experienced it.  Like that moment ten minutes before a Thanksgiving feast was put on the table never happened.  Like I never grew up at all.

The memories swirl and rush and mingle.  There are colors – vibrant swimsuits and restaurant crayons and holiday dresses.  There are sounds – screams as we ran through sprinklers, my father’s patient voice re-telling the same story one more time, the ding of the timer when the muffins were done.  There are smells – the scent of cigarette smoke on my grandmother’s cardigan, the odor of dog breath two inches from my face, the roses in bloom in my father’s garden.

It all feels like it happened yesterday.  Just this past weekend, or maybe the weekend before, but certainly not a decade or two ago.

The closer I am to parenthood, the more I dwell upon my childhood.  The nearer I come to bringing another life into this world, the more I think about where my own life started.  The closer I am to forging first memories with my own child, the more I consider my own first memories and my own childhood.

They say that at the end, you think about the beginning.  So here I am at an end.  And for the first time in a very long time, I catch myself realizing that, on some level, I still feel like I am at the beginning.  If I still feel a child myself, how the fuck am I going to raise one?


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  1. By Hokie Deb on July 13, 2009

    —>I think it’s important to always feel like a child from time to time. Remember, kids don’t come with an instruction manual and stupid people give birth every day, you’ll be just fine.

    http://www.WebSavyMom.com

  2. By Marla on July 13, 2009

    I have a suspicion that these are feeling that all new parents go through right before their new baby arrives. Just remember, people have been doing it for thousands of years, why wouldn’t you be able to handle it?

  3. By Buckeroomama on July 13, 2009

    Funny that you write this post.  I was out with my 4-year old today.  We went to the library and we went to the market.  I remembered going to the market with my grandmother, holding on to her hand the way my son was holding on to mine.  And then I started thinking, WHEN, when had I “grown up” that I am now whose hand a little person holds on to?

  4. By Cate Subrosa on July 13, 2009

    That part of you that still feels like a child is what will make you the mother you’re going to be. It will be because of it, not in spite of it.

  5. By Dutch Donut Girl on July 13, 2009

    Gosh. you have such a way with words. so beautiful & just right.

    Well, that last sentence was less poetic :)

  6. By Elizabeth on July 13, 2009

    Hmm…. wicked thinker post, Sarah.  In my experience the VERY BEST (yes, it deserves all caps) part about parenting is that it reconnects you, directly, to the wonder of childhood all over again and in the most incredible ways and you get to feel like a kid.  Everything that you experience as a “grown up” (ha, what does that mean, anyhow) is blown up with awesomeness times a billion.  Like Christmas lights?  Snowflakes?  Bubbles?  Catching and throwing a ball?  Throwing rocks?  There are no words to describe the pure bliss you get in experiencing that discovery with your child.  No words. 
    I really think that feeling like a kid will help you raise and parent your child because you will have more empathy towards where they are/what they are thinking/what they need. 
    Love it.  Fantastic post.

  7. By tracey on July 13, 2009

    Life and memories are weird like that. You ARE at the beginning, though; the beginning of parenthood. It’s an even stranger journey than just growing up. And it FLIES BY.

    Cherish it! Take care.

  8. By TheFeministBreeder on July 13, 2009

    I just came to check on you, and noticed you’re nearly at the end.  Yay!  (totally unsolicited advice coming—we can’t help it—every BTDT mom is required to say the following things…) All I can say is hang in there - every mom feels like it’s never going to end, but be patient.  You’ll meet your baby when your baby is all done in there.  And when you do finally meet them, your brain becomes instantly rewired, and this parenting stuff comes pretty naturally.  Of course there are moments of self-doubt, but when you look at someone you created in your own tummy, life seems to make so much more sense, and instantly become so much more important.  You grow up in ways you never dreamed.

    So good luck!  Relax!  And (it’s a cliche to hear, but you’ll find yourself telling this to every other pregnant woman you meet from now on) ENJOY this time!!!  You’re about to be changed forever in ways that are unimaginable, so enjoy every minute of this time.

  9. By repliderium.com on July 13, 2009

    “If I still feel a child myself, how the fuck am I going to raise one?“
    The very fact that you are asking the questions means that you will do just fine…....

  10. By Beth in SF on July 13, 2009

    Seasoned moms are always asking me what surprised me most about becoming a mom.  And my answer?  That it came so naturally to me.  I was shitting bricks my entire pregnancy thinking, what have I gotten us into?  I had barely ever even been in the same room with a baby, never a newborn, how on earth could I know how to take care of one?  But….I did.  I just did.  And you will too.  You don’t know me, I don’t know you but I wish I could give you a big squeeze right now.

  11. By Kathleen on July 13, 2009

    I’m terrible with words of wisdom, but don’t let go of that inner child feeling. It will keep you young and help you understand what us just sooo interesting about that inchworm. (Hours can be spent watching an inchworm in a child’s world.) I am so excited for you!

  12. By Julia on July 13, 2009

    I totally agree with Elizabeth’s comment!!  I’m realizing this more and more.  It’s such an overwhelming blessing!!  I can’t even think or talk about it much because I don’t know where to be begin and it’d probably be too emotional!  I’m so excited for what’s up-ahead for you very soon!!!

  13. By Jennifer Lowe on July 13, 2009

    I was hoping I would come back Monday, and you would have had your baby!  I love your blog and all of your pictures!  Congrats on your baby!

  14. By Obi-Mom Kenobi on July 13, 2009

    Like everyone else: day-by-day

  15. By Stephanie on July 13, 2009

    the first days of parenthood also makes you think about your own mortality… i remember going through that with my daughter… but for some reason i can’t think of what was going through my head at the time right now. TIRED.

    eloquently said though - i feel like i just became an adult when i became responsible for a child i created… in fact, i don’t think i’ve felt much like a child since that moment… and i was very in tune with my inner child for my first 27 years :P

  16. By Deanna on July 13, 2009

    Sarah,
    Sounds like you have fond childhood memories that you will share and incorporate into your own child’s life.  I think you’ll have a great intuition into what your child’s wants and needs will be at any age.  You’re just going to be a great mother!!
    Yankee Wife

  17. By Wild Dingo on July 13, 2009

    Oh crap. you didn’t have the little bugger yet? ;)
    thoughtful post. nice!

  18. By Aljolynn on July 13, 2009

    Holy Moses, I thought you would have shot out the “Whippersnapper” by now. 
    Your feelings (as I’m sure many people have mentioned) are completely normal. 

    You can do it and you will because you care that much.

  19. By Elizabeth Mackey on July 13, 2009

    It’s important to always be a child at heart. You are at the beginning of an amazing journey Sarah. Godspeed!

  20. By Megan at FASS on July 13, 2009

    This made me cry…such a beautifull written piece!

    I face the same fear and nosalgia.  If we aren’t scared, something is wrong!

  21. By Veronica on July 13, 2009

    Would love to add something witty or whatever, but seriously, I’ve got 2 kids and I’m still not feeling like a grownup. Apparently you get there.

  22. By tracy on July 14, 2009

    You just will. Know how to raise a child, I mean. Everyone feels that they don’t know what they’re hell they’re doing & if they don’t, they’re lying. I felt completely unprepared (even though I started babysitting when I was 9), & I felt like a fraud for the first several months of Ellis’ life. I can honestly say now, that I feel like her mother. That’s right, I’m a MOTHER. I HAVE A KID. She has made me a better person, a more patient person, a person who wants to see the beauty in everything. You will be a wonderful mother too, because you love him/her & because you WANT to be a good mother.

  23. By Tabitha (From Single to Married) on July 14, 2009

    very poignant and a very good question indeed.  But I think we all feel that way at one time or another and look at how many people have and raise perfectly good kids.  You’ll be fine, better than fine even, you’ll be great!

  24. By Heidi on July 14, 2009

    This is such a well-written, evocative post. I love it so much. I popped on for what I assumed would be a quick second just to see if you had birthed your child and of course I was sucked in by this. Well done. Be a journalist. The industry could use you.


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