I am 13 weeks away from meeting my first child. Deciding to keep her came easily. Once I knew she was in there and saw that little heart beating on the sonogram, there was no other option for me. I didn’t care how my social life would change or how my family would feel about this child coming into the world out of wedlock. I didn’t care how society would view me. I didn’t care how her father would react when I told him I was keeping her. I didn’t care how she would affect my living situation or my job. I saw that little heart beat and just knew that I needed to protect it and knew that I would never let it go. I knew she was a gift and I was immediately willing to fight for her. No other person’s opinion or rejection of her mattered.
This week I have been reflecting on how my life has changed, how it was just six short months ago, and how it is about to change again. I think despite the joy and excitement every mother feels with the coming of her child, there is also sadness. There is a life that was and a new life that will be. Pregnancy is the ten months of in between where you taste a little of the old life and a little of the new life at the same time. Your friends begin to change, you start to eat and drink differently, and your house slowly transforms. Still, you can go out without finding a babysitter, you can go away for the weekend at a moment’s notice, and if you’re lucky, you can sleep in. You still only have you to worry about and care for.
Seven months ago I was enjoying a carefree life with a new job, a summer fling, baseball games, bike rides, and bottles of wine. When I felt like it, I sat out on my porch and had a cigarette while I watched the sun set over the Susquehanna or stayed late for impromptu dance parties with friends. I ran almost every day. I spent my summer on the river bank drinking craft beers and white wines with good friends. A child was the last thing on my mind because I felt amazing and thought I could probably live this way forever and die totally happy. I had a naïve mentality that nothing could change unless I changed it and pregnancy was not on my radar. This life, though wonderful, also comes with a certain level of foolishness and selfishness.
A few days ago I walked around my house. I ran my hands over my heavy bag and boxing gloves, I looked at the bottle of gin untouched and covered in dust, and I looked at the clothes that no longer fit. I closed my eyes and played Zac Brown’s “free” full blast as I remembered the night in September when I listened to it live in Nashville with a whisky and coke in my hand only hours after running a half marathon. Motherhood was not on my mind and single motherhood was unthinkable. Being single, free and without kids seemed like the perfect life to me. I had no clue that only two days later my world would change forever. I will box again and run again and I will even enjoy a nice glass of wine here and there, but that life is gone. The thing is, I am 35 and I have enjoyed absolute freedom for 15 years. I have travelled the world, I have completed my education, I have gone out and partied and come in with the sunrise hundreds of times. I loved that life and enjoyed it, but I have a feeling I am not really going to miss it.
Now, I am thinking about daycare, care seats, strollers, and good school districts. I skip the bottle of wine and the night out so I can have more money for my baby. I look at baby clothes and decorating ideas on Pinterest. My car is full of secondhand bottles and clothes and they look like priceless treasures to me. Now, I am already looking forward to nights at home with my daughter playing dress up and tea party and having permission to be a kid again. Don’t get me wrong. I will still dance till sunrise. The difference is that now I will be dancing because there is joy that has entered my life that is far beyond any joy I have ever experienced before.