Tuesday, August 14, 2012

F is for Future


My last pregnant picture, one week before delivery.
Pregnancy was not a joy for me. I know some women love it, but those nine months were the longest and most uncomfortable of my life. I had really bad morning (and noon and night) sickness that lasted all the way through my pregnancy, I had acne worse than a teenage boy and my ribcage took a beating so severe that it's still a bit displaced.

But I think the worst part of pregnancy for me was the lack of control I felt. I was always the girl with a plan for the future. I'd make one year, five year and ten years plans on a regular basis. I took comfort in having a rough idea of how things were going to go, what my next step was going to be. But as my due date got closer and closer, I found I could no longer imagine what my future would look like. I felt like the ground was being taken from beneath my feet and I was stumbling blindly towards the unknown.

Needless to say, it was not a feeling I relished.

But I thought it would all come together after Lucas was born. I thought I would have a brief period of adjustment and be back on track. I figured a clear plan for the future would soon reveal itself to me. We would find our groove with this new little member of the family and everything would fall into place.

Needless to say, it did not.

Once Lucas was born, I found myself floundering in a sea of horrific hormones and way more uncertainty than I ever thought I would encounter in my well-planned life. Suddenly I wasn't in school anymore, I didn't have the same old job to go to and I couldn't seem to get the hang of this whole parenting thing. Contrary to my "it will all come together" theory, everything felt like it was falling apart. I couldn't bring myself to imagine next week, let alone next year. I couldn't even decide whether or not I was going back to work.

By the time Lucas was six months things started turning around. I had the daycare going and Rob had steady hours again. I was starting to get the hang of things and had given up on the notion of perfection. It was still difficult (and still is at times) but it was a marked change from the flailing, crying, frozen-cheeseburger-eating version of myself. I decided to sit down and start making plans for the future again.

Allow me to show you how those plans are unfolding:

Right now I'm supposed to be pregnant, and we're supposed to have a lot more money than we do, and I should be working five days a week instead of three, and we're supposed to be preparing for an isolated life in the mountains with our two babies in about a year. I should probably be applying to low residency MFA programs and Rob should be taking welding courses while simultaneously getting ready to graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in one semester. I think we were supposed to buy a new truck too, you know, for mountain living. Did I mention we're going to build our own house, and I'm going to bake cupcakes and sell them at Farmer's Markets for a living? Yes, yes.

To be fair, part of the plan was also to finish our emergency fund - which we are doing this month - so I guess not all is lost. But I think I've come to terms with the fact that this particular vision of the future is probably not coming to fruition any time soon (or, you know, ever). Moreover, I think I'm coming to terms with the fact that no matter how many plans I make, I don't have the sort of control I always thought I did.

I think one of the most important things I've learned so far in this crazy journey of being a parent, is how to let go of that tight hold on the future. I'm always going to be making plans and lists and goals. It's part of my nature. But I'm trying to scale it down. I plan to try new recipes and go new places with Lucas and plan the occasional weekend getaway. I still have ideas about the future, but it's not the well orchestrated five year game plan I'm used to.

I've loosened my expectations for the long term; I've accepted that the future needs to be a lot more malleable than I'd prefer. As Lucas' needs change, so will ours, and I'm okay with that. I'm starting to trust that where I am now is where I am supposed to be. I'm enjoying life and my time with Lucas and not being anxious about the future. And you know what? Once I finally stopped trying to control the future, the present became much, much more beautiful.


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