On the day we found out, the computer speakers suddenly worked. There was a puddle of water in our bathtub that had been sitting there for days, slowly trying to soften the frozen pipes. But, on that day, the water drained. The truck had been sitting in the driveway, dead. That day, it started. For no reason, everything started to work. Everything fell into place.
Babies are proof that people change other people. When I found out I was pregnant with Clara, I was a little scared that our life would turn into exactly what it has become. We spend dinners coaxing Clara to eat, telling her to stay seated in her chair, squeezing in “how was your day”s. After dinner, one of us washes dishes while the other one builds towers or chases Clara around the house. Then, we read books, lay Clara down, watch an episode of Modern Family off Hulu, and sit on the couch in a quiet, exhausted embrace before Aaron warms up his bath and I write or read. Every night is the same, even Friday nights. I was worried we wouldn’t have as much time to love our dogs and I was scared there would be a lot I didn’t know how to do and that, frustrated and tired, I would at times be short and irritable with Aaron for no reason.
There was an afternoon in June when Clara would not stop crying. She was wailing and would choke on her tears if she tried to nurse. We had to run errands to get ready for impending move to Alaska, so we loaded the crying Clara into her car seat and then hunkered down into the car where all we could hear was screaming. I cried, too, because I had no idea what to do and I was thinking that I wasn’t, when it came down to it, a good enough person to be a mom.
As they cry and scream and wail and strip you of all your defenses and make you feel constantly raw and concerned, babies swarm you with their trust. Suddenly, your whole life is swimming in how much they love and trust you. Trust is what changes people.
There was never any reason to be scared because you get two chances to transform in life—one when you leave home and another when you make one. Clara made me a mother, and our next one, who is working on building a little heart right now in my belly, will make us a family. I think these last two years have been about becoming parents. Sometimes when I look at Clara, I think about everything she’s had to do since she was born. She had the hard job. She was born into arms that were frightened and uncertain and shaky and she had to teach them how to hold and rock and be steady. She’s had to teach me how to sing and play and how to leave work at work. Now, she’s going to be a big sister, and when I think of our next little one, I am happy and ready. I think of how on the day we found out we would be a family of four, everything started to work, how everything was just getting started.
Here’s our little girl dancing to some bluegrass gospel music on Sunday:
Clara, all dolled up for church and pulling on Mom’s weekly attempt at a hair style.
Yes, I cut her bangs, and yes, they are quite crooked. She was awfully squirmy and the scissors were awfully sharp, so that’s what grabbing a handful of hair and snipping looks like.
Oh, we have ourselves a little flirt. She loves to be chased by Josh.
Later that day, we went sledding again down a kiddie-sized hill outside Aaron’s school.
Clara and Dad, walking up the hill for another ride.
Here’s some of that uproarious chasing I was telling you about. She loves to be surprised.