the myth of readiness

We're less than 3 weeks from the due date of Chicken #2.

The onesies are folded. The bottles are in the cupboard. The newborn diapers, which look like they might fit my house cat, wait in the wicker basket next to the improvised changing table in our bedroom.

So we're materially ready.

But ready?

That's a whole other fish to fry.

As first-timers, we suspected we weren't "ready." Sure, we had all the gear. We had our birth plan. We had an aromatherapy kit and an exercise ball and cheap disposable towels for our home birth. But at deep in our bones we knew we weren't ready-ready. We were right.

Now we have this extra layer of knowledge that no matter how many bins we stock and label, how much we organize, we'll never be ready for another one. All the gear, all the stuff, it's just set dressing. It's a lamp, for God's sake. Is a lamp going to make me ready for what's about to happen?

Of course it won't. Because what happens doesn't happen in a room. It happens deep in your bones.

But you still make a room because that's what you CAN do, I guess.

You can't fight or surrender until the attack comes. You can't think on your feet until you're up on them. And you can't get ready for a baby until you have one.

It's like stepping into the batter's box. You know the facts of what's going to happen. Okay, he's going to wind up... and then he's going to pitch, and the ball is going to come to you, and then your job is to swing, and if you swing well you'll get a hit, and if you hesitate you'll miss.

So you know what to do. You're ready. You put on your helmet. You heft your bat. You dig in over the plate, and you know what's about to happen, and now he's winding up and WHATTHEFUCKJUSTHAPPENED?!?

We have a lot of friends who have waited a long time to get pregnant because they didn't feel the time was right for whatever reason - they hadn't yet established job security. They didn't own a home. I respect those choices - I mean, at the end of the day you're the one who's committing to a lifetime of altered consciousness. So you've got to be ready. You do whatever it takes to feel ready. Just know that your feeling of readiness? It's lying to you.

I'm not saying that "getting ready" isn't important. They say that's why you endure 40 weeks of waiting before your life changes in a second (although... does it? More on that to come...) It will be harder if you don't have clothes and diapers and a car seat. It will be harder if you don't have a stocked pantry or takeout menus ready to rock. It will be harder if you bring your baby home and have nowhere for him to sleep, or a room that's only half-finished that makes you feel sad or guilty. But no matter how many material preparations you make, how much easier you make the world around you, becoming a parent is still going to be hard.

This has turned into a scary post. Sorry. Let me get to the heart of it here.

Yes, I'm saying "there is nothing, and I mean nothing you can do to get ready for the monumental change that's about to occur in your heart, your home, your family, your marriage, your sense of self-worth, your sensitivity to the pain of others, your definition of success, the depth of your commitment to organic blueberries, whatever. And you'll be desperately lost for awhile, and it will be frustrating and scary in ways you can't prepare for. " But I'm also saying, "Me too."

I'm also saying, "I love you for how hard you're going to work at this, how much you'll care about doing a good job at this new, incredibly hard vocation."

I'm also saying, "You'll never love your partner more than when you look at him or her and say 'what the hell are we doing?' and he/she responds, 'I have no idea, but I've got your back.'"

I'm also saying I've got your back.

So okay, you'll never be ready. So what? None of us can be. That's why we stick together, in this crazy-eyed, boobs-out tribe that hasn't showered and doesn't give a damn if any of the others have either.

We've got that going for us.

That, and faith that we've got grit to fight and wisdom to surrender, once the attack comes. It's coming. But we've got this.

You can never be ready. You'll be tough instead.


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