Over the years, I’ve heard people say that when you have a child, you have trouble remembering what life was like — and who you were — pre-baby. The little tyke becomes so integrated in your life, and everything changes — including you. I don’t know what this means, and I suppose I can’t know what this means till it happens to me.
But with about 5 weeks (or maybe 7, we’ll see if I go past my due date!) to go till the little nugget starts spiraling his or her head downward to enter the world, I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
I mean, it’s obvious that our routines and rituals will change when A. and I have a little one totally dependent on us for his or her basic needs.
Here are some of the things I loved pre-pregnancy (some I can do, some I haven’t been able to, but it’s been OK). I love making morning coffee with my Italian espresso maker (this was replaced by a different warm drink yesterday) and sitting somewhere quiet with a book or the New Yorker. I love getting pedicures once a month. I love long walks or runs with my friend S. through Rock Creek, followed by a hearty brunch. I love hiking and camping in the woods and the smell of fresh air — and stopping at holes-in-the-wall for grub and noticing the locals. I love yoga classes and volleyball and bike rides. I love the feel of buying a plane ticket to somewhere adventurous — skiing in Colorado, hiking in Peru — and the anticipation leading up to the trip. I love photography and hearing writers speak and going to National Geographic events. I love learning about different cultures and learning languages — even if it’s just “hello” and “thank you.” I love long, hot showers and sleeping in on the weekends.
I threw in the last line cause it makes me giggle — I know those things will be put on hold for the next — well, who knows how long. And I realize that many of the other things will be harder with a small one. I imagine A. and I find new things we love to do that are focused on our child’s sense of wonder and growth. But I hope that A. and I will eventually give each other time or find creative ways to do some of the things we loved pre-baby (if they still apply). Maybe we’ll have to wait a few years to be adventurous again — but I hope not.
Every day, we’re changing as individuals — and that is a good thing. Change is inevitable. With every decision I make (including finding and partnering with A., one of the best decisions I’ve ever made), I’m constantly remaking myself, molding myself into who I want to be and who I want my family to be and what enriches me. Having a baby will change me, too, undoubtedly.
So what defines me, now? What makes me me before baby arrives?
- I’m a dreamer. If I’m ever feeling down, all I have to do is write a list of the things I’d like to see and do and I light up (it usually involves travel — right now, Turkey and Argentina are at the top, followed by Croatia, Iceland and Ecuador).
- I’m a reader. I feel a little lost if I’m not reading. Book stores and independent coffee shops are my happy places.
- I’m an adventurer. While I sometimes resist change, it usually makes me happy when I embrace it. I love to explore and see new things.
- I’m an exerciser. I’m happier if I’m working toward something, and often that means physically. Being active is how I expel stress.
- I’m a laugher. I don’t take anything too seriously, and I laugh — a lot. And loudly. I don’t get riled up by little things.
- I’m social — but I prefer small groups or one-on-one time with friends. But a social circle grounds me.
- I’m competitive — I love challenges, especially physical ones, like marathons and rock climbing.
In just more than a month, I’ll also be a mom. I think it’s good to keep in mind who I am and some of the things I love to do so I don’t forget — and if I feel lost and exhausted and unhappy and totally consumed by motherhood, I can come back to this and remember. And give myself time to do things that make me me — even if I’m a new me.