Thursday, March 10, 2011
two paths diverged in a wood
This is how I see it.
When you first glimpse that little double pink line on the pregnancy test, you feel...a million different ways: excited and scared and overcome and nervous and anxious and happy and exuberant and everything under the sun. You also feel a little bit alone. But before too long, you come to be surrounded by other women who are all pregnant, by happenstance or design, you have this circle of people who are going through the same things. You talk about cravings and having to pee all the time and what it's like to go to birthing classes. You compare notes on cribs and swings and baby carriers. You share your birth plans.
When you have your babies, there are other mothers joining in your throng: babies on hips and babies nursing and babies napping in slings. You talk about sleeping and the lack of it. You talk about sore bodies and scars. You cry together and laugh together. Your babies smile at each other and you think, this is how it is, we're in this together.
But even in those first few months, there is one mother and then another who peels off from the group: the first to go back to working a job away from home, the first to put baby in daycare, the first to think about a part time nanny.
One by one we make choices that direct our path.
Once upon a time I was surrounded by a pack of mothers who were doing and thinking and talking about the same things, but in the three years since Bean was born we've each made decisions that have split us onto sidelines and avenues. The working mothers, the part-time working mothers, the ones sending their children to preschool, the ones keeping there little ones at home. The organic mothers, the traveling mothers, the mothers who go to story time at the library.
I don't know if I'll ever be able to describe this adequately, this feeling of branches splitting into infinite numbers until we're each treading a pathway that is individually our own. I used to be able to talk to my friends about the choices facing me as a mother, but I don't have that luxury anymore as so many of my choices are not theirs--- whether they've moved on or moved over or however you see it, there is movement for each of us and even though we all start out at the same place, with a tiny baby in our hands and their future spread out before us, in thirty-six short months we might be light years away from our counterparts.
This isn't to say that any one of us or them or whoever is making a bad choice, just different choices. Yes different choices is what I'm trying to say. Different. But it still scares me, this unknown future that lies before me with Alice. We're making those decision now, Chip and I, in determining what would be best for her in schooling and everything that is wrapped up in that subject. We've decided to throw out the handbook of doing things just because everyone else has done them, and it's leading us down to this slightly less traveled path, a pathway that is strange and exciting and also a tiny bit terrifying.
But I'm excited. Even if I feel like I'm peeling off from the pack, it feels good.