Archer watches the Dragon Boats: Echo Park, Los Angeles
It's a strange feeling to know that you're life is about to change. Usually, it just changes. Out of nowhere. Like in softball when I was eight-years old, a hopeless athlete forced to play center-field for an entire season, because that was the position that got the least action. And, of course, game after game, I waited, waited, WAITED for some action, my eye on the sky, until the day came that I stopped waiting because screw waiting! No one is ever going to hit the ball all the way out to center-field. Except someone did. The one day I wasn't paying attention.
I don't know if I caught two balls in the two seasons I played center-field, which was why I learned to pitch. I was desperate for some ball control and the occasional ("huah!") strike.
Waiting gives me a stomach ache, even if there is absolutely no reason to be nervous. Waiting in line at Starbucks and my nerves are a flutter. Waiting for the mail. Waiting for friends to arrive at a dinner party. Anxiety takes over. I start sweating. I pace and clean and check my cell-phone for missed calls and messages. I re-ponytail my hair. Again. And again...
The butterflies arrived this week. In the form of kicks and nudges and hiccups and... nerves. Or maybe its just gas. No, but it isn't gas. I know gas. Gas and me are like old friends who don't like to be seen in public together. This is something bigger: an acute case of butterflies.
There is no anticipation quite like a pregnancy. Waiting for someone to be is a pretty nerve-wracking experience, even if they're the happiest kind of nerves. Nerves with smiley-faces and fedoras.
gurgle. gurgle. gurgle.
Today, I was crossing the street with a smoothie and two cups of ice coffee in one hand, Archer's hand in the other, when it occurred to me that, very soon, I won't be able to do such a thing. Not without some help or a stroller, or at the very least, a large bag full of supplies. I haven't carried a diaper bag in almost two years, and the thought of binkies and bottles and burp-cloths both excites and terrifies me.
I'm so together right now. I feel like I can do anything. I can mother and work and sleep and pursue creative schemes, and meet friends for lunch and coffee and drinks.... I can pack a lunch in five-minutes and get out the door in ten. I can spend an entire day without so much as touching a stroller. An entire week, even. I can spend an afternoon at the park and know at every moment where my child is, what he's doing and if/when he needs me to give him a boost or push him on the swing. I can, in one hand, balance two full cups of coffee on top of a 16 ounce Acai smoothie with Calcium boost.
I feel like I have finally figured out how to be a mother and a wife and an individual without leaving anyone out. I am confident in my multi-tasking across busy streets. I know what I'm doing...
Aha! But not for long.
And so, the butterflies. The twisted bellyaches that growl and vibrate the unknown. The nervous anticipation of standing in the outfield with my glove extended toward the sky, whispering, "I got it! I got it! I got it!" because that's what the coaches tell you to say when you think you got it. When you think you can catch the ball. When it's falling right over you! Right into your glove!
And, "I got it," I think, standing here, once again, in center field, the farthest position from the pitcher's mound. And of course I do. I will. I'll catch the ball. Maybe not on the fly, per say. It might take a bounce or two before it finds its way into my glove. It may even take several seasons before the coach lets me pitch again. Before I have the arm-control to throw a strike.
But that's the game. And that's motherhood... And I'm sure its been said, a thousand times before, in ways far more eloquent than I can express, that the moment we think we have it all under control, is the ideal moment to lose our balance and spill coffee all over our silly metallic gladiator sandals.
And so I embrace the nerves and cramps and sweaty palms. And I wait...
...With napkins ready.