Normal people know how to get ready for things. When company comes over their table is set and even the salad is ready to go. They understand how to get somewhere on time. (My mother tells me the key is to leave your house before an event starts.) Normal people know how to pack for a vacation, arrive at work, and even get ready for bed, in a timely manner. When normal people have babies they are prepared for them; the crib is assembled, sleepers are laundered, and the baby blanket matches the nursery curtains. Normal people have no stress. Or, at least not my kind of stress–the raging, racing feeling of just trying to make it somewhere. Of leaving for a canoe trip utterly exhausted before even gripping a paddle, of praying for green lights and no trains, of yelling at family members while sprinting to the car.
The part of me that makes me live this way is deep down inside and connected to all sorts of other things. Some of these things I actually like, and they might get dislodged if I’d try ripping the tardy part out all willy-nilly. For example, I often don’t get ready for the next item on my agenda because I’m fully engaged with whatever I’m doing in the moment. This can be a good thing. But in the next three months I’m going to try very hard to extract a bit of this inner chunk; the root of all my rushing, unpreparedness, and failure to to be ready.
This time, with baby number three, I desperately want to be a normal person. I want to have an infant seat resting on my gleaming wood floors next to the crib before we go to the hospital. I want a rocker sitting next to the infant sit, which will be next to the crib, which will be next to the matching curtains, which will compliment the artwork on the walls. I want to be ready.
This will be a real stretch for us. When Belén was born we’d just returned from Bolivia and were camped out in my parents’ basement; the extra bathroom and the nook in the hallway served as a nursery. Two years later, when Susanna came, we were in our very first house with a similar scenario. Our 100-year-old, 550 square foot cabin didn’t have an extra room for a baby. Her change table–the focal point of the living room–doubled as dresser, toy box, and book shelf. It was visible from our bed (also in the living room) and nestled against the kitchen sink. Do you get the picture?
This time we have space. Over one thousand square feet of it! (I still wander around my home wondering how I got so lucky.) Now all I have to do is think like a normal person would think and act like a normal person would act. I’m trying–we’re all trying–hard. Stan has been fashioning extra shelving units for our closets, even the awkward closet in the bathroom that used to serve as the winning spot for hide-and-go-seek. We’re wringing out every last bit of space available so we can have a nursery. One that looks like other people’s nurseries.
It’s not easy though. This future baby room houses all of Stan’s clothes, a sewing machine, yards of material and scraps, old yearbooks and photographs, a filing cabinet, musical recording equipment, electrical components, and general refuse. Aunty Erika, close your eyes…
And even as the room gets cleared out I have to keep myself on track. The fabric I plan to reupholster the rocker with (that will match the un-made curtains, that will match the quilt, that will match the potential artwork) has now migrated to my dining room. It’s draped over an art easel and I figure if I keep it in view long enough I’ll get to it sooner or later. There are no guarantees though. Not with me. Especially when there are walks to go on, phone calls to make, soups to stir, radishes to plant, meetings to get to, friends to see, and snacks to eat.
Trying for normal,
*As a disclaimer, I find parts of the post nauseating. Especially the idea that birthing a baby requires material assets most of the world doesn’t even dream of. It makes me ill to think of translating what I’ve written for my former neighbours–women who survive off the land and don’t even have 4 walls for shelter. Even so, it’s all still true.