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Monday, November 06, 2006

From Snapshots to Instant Motherhood

Of course, since I wrote about it, I had that dream again last night. This time, I was pregnant with triplets and I wasn't showing at all. In real life, I have a pretty small frame and therefore would show relatively early. But in my dream, I was close to delivery and my stomach looked exactly the same. And I couldn't sift through my feelings to understand if I was happy or sad to discover that I missed my entire pregnancy and was about to deliver triplets.

In college, I had a friend named Fred who always carried a backpack full of junk. A bandaid dispenser, extra pens, a change of clothes. We loved making fun of him and going through his bag o' crap until one day when he witnessed a car accident. He pulled over to help and discovered that one of the passengers needed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The person who was about to administer the rescue breaths was paused over the man's mouth, staring at the blood around the man's lips and weighing the possibility of a blood borne illness. Fred to the rescue with the handy mouth-guard that he kept in his bag for such an occasion. You never know when you're going to have to give mouth-to-bloody-mouth in the era of HIV.

As much as I made fun of Fred, I too like being prepared. And why not be prepared? Why not carry the damn mouth-guard in your backpack if you don't care how much stuff you carry on your back? There is no harm that comes from being prepared as long as you don't place your anxieties about being prepared for everything before actually living life.

Which takes us back to this idea of instant motherhood and my dream. As excited as I would be to instantly gain a child in my family, I think I would feel a great deal of unease over not having that preparation time. Even if there isn't something that needs to get done (baby items can be purchased at most food stores so it wouldn't even require a trip to a baby mega store in order to become prepared instantaneously), I think I need that mental time to become a mother. I think I need the daydreaming and the what ifs that come during a pregnancy or during the adoption process. If I was actively trying to become a mother, I could certainly be ready in a heartbeat to raise a child. But if I was merely making a sandwich in my kitchen and then had a child handed to me?--well...I think I would flip out somewhat. I'd raise that child and love that child, but I'd probably feel more than a little off-kilter for an extended period of time.

My other reoccurring dream involves leaving for a vacation and realizing that I forgot to pack my camera. I'm not a photographer in the artistic sense of the word, but I love taking pictures. I feel this overwhelming need to record everything in my life. This is sort of the other end of the instant motherhood telescope--that burning desire to be able to look back at an experience and hold onto memories from an experience. And if you had instant motherhood, you'd miss out on all of those mental snapshots of yourself preparing for your imminent child. And I'm not just talking about painting the bedroom or buying clothing. I'm talking about those mental images that come back into play once you're parenting and you think back to how you imagined the experience. And the sense of peace that comes from having those mental images align. You dreamed about walking your child in the stroller and suddenly, you look down and realize that you're walking your child in a stroller. And there's peace. There's closure. It's like looking back at vacation photos.

Even freakier than having that dream last night was watching the Desperate Housewives episode a few minutes after posting my entry. If you haven't seen the episode, stop reading now. That's okay. I'll wait. Just shut down your browser or move onto the next blog.

In the episode, Lynette gains instant motherhood when a mother dies and she is given immediate custody of the child (to explain, Lynette's husband had a child with another woman prior to marriage. This child's mother died in the episode. Therefore, the father--Lynette's husband--will gain sole custody and by default, Lynette just became the mother). She was in the process of trying to gain custody, therefore it doesn't completely fit my hypothetical situation. But still, she never thought the mother would be killed and that would be how she would come to take care of this child. I think it will be interesting to see how this storyline unfolds. Is there any sense of regret over the suddenness of it all? Or are they only focused on Lynette's guilt?

Inquiring minds want to know...


Kir said...

I think this is where our pasts come back and tell us how to respond. My mom and dad got married in 3 weeks and they had a full shower and a huge, party of a wedding reception. They even got married in a church on a Sat with 3 weeks things in my family happen very fast. My father died suddenly, my mom was dating quickly after etc. So for me it might help "not to be prepared" because a part of me is very used to flying by the seat of my pants and having things Just work themselves out. IF has taken some of that hopefullness away from me but all in all, if it happened where I was instantly a mom, I think that myself and family included would rise to the occasion and never look back at what I didn't get to experience. My life has taught me that things going quickly is not necessarily a bad thing.

Serenity said...

But - aren't we all preparing for motherhood right NOW? Most of us out here right now are actively trying to become a mother - we're not just in the kitchen making sandwiches.

I have gone through upteen thousand (ok maybe that's a little bit exaggerated, but you get the picture) shots, blood draws, ultrasounds, a HSG, a MRI, a hysteroscopy, a retreival, and 4 transfers. I've been on hormone therapy for almost an entire year. I've had doctors I don't know looking at my nether regions.

All for parenthood - so I can be a mom.

Perhaps those first few months of trying I wasn't fully ready to be a mother. But now, 2 years into it - I am READY. I am more fucking ready than I've ever been for ANYTHING in my life.

So if a baby showed up in my life, right now, this very second... I don't feel like I would need time to prepare. Because, frankly, I've been preparing for the past two years.

I don't know. I get what you're saying, and I wouldn't know fully until I'm in that situation, but if a baby was placed in my lap now, I'd get on with the business of being a mom and not for one minute regret how I got there.

I'm just over the "trying" part, I guess. :)

C said...

Upon further reflection, I have to agree with Serenity. Mentally, I believe that I'm ready for motherhood. I don't know that nine months of pregnancy could make me any more ready than the last 20 months of infertility have. Sure, it would be hard, and sure I would need a TON of stuff right away, but as far as emotional preparedness goes, I think I have it covered now.

Elle said...

Not having any control over what is happening is preparing for motherhood as far as I'm concerned.

One of the biggest strenghts you can have is learning to deal with whatever is thrown at you. People who want to have things a certain way at a specific time will have a hard time raising children.

Somewhat Ordinary said...

I agree with Serenity, too!

About 2 weeks ago a premature newborn was left on a doorstep in my town. This sort of stuff never happens around here and all I could think was, "Why didn't they pick my house?" Every time I saw it on the news I would bawl-how could someone leave a baby out in the cold like that? The baby was taken to the hospital and a friend of mine who is a child protective services social worker was going to take her home until they figured out a foster situation once she was well enough to leave the hospital. As soon as I heard about it I was on the phone to her letting her know that my husband and I would do whatever it took to get on a list foster or adoption. My husband thought I was being a little nutty jumping into it so quickly, but I didn't care-I've been waiting for a baby my whole life and actively trying for one for almost 2 years. We discussed it further and decided if it came down to it we would persue it while we continue to try.

It turns out the baby was never left anywhere. The 20 year old who claimed to find the baby was actually the mother and she was trying to hide it from her parents.

The prospect of having a baby in the house in a matter of days was scary, but it would have been totally fine with either of us. Aside from not having baby necessities there is nothing else keeping us from taking a baby at the drop of a hat!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Serenity about preparing for motherhood. Yes, it would be shocking, but I've been trying for so long, I think I could do it quite fast.

And Lynette, they will talk about her guilt, but there will be consequences later with the girl. I don't think it will be as easy as it sounds.