You May Ask Yourself…How Did I Get Here?

To the Pregnant woman who passed me on Park and 27th around noon today:

This morning, my daughter Thalia and her cousin Ella were running around on the sidewalk like the crazy two-year olds that they are. You and your husband were passing by, and stopped for just a second to smile at them – that familiar smile that takes joy and anticipation and longing and sheer terror and smashes them all together until they curl your mouth up in a way that maybe only other mothers can recognize.

“You’re next,” I called to you, and I think your smiled brightened. I caught you squeeze your husband’s hand just a little more tightly and then you walked on.

I just wanted to tell you that not so long ago, I was the one looking at little girls squealing on sidewalks and telling myself, soon. Not so long ago, I’d lurk on message boards for toddler moms and think they were speaking some special secret language filled with song lyrics and board books they knew by heart, newfangled acronyms (CIO! EBF! OMG! WTF!) and lines from TV shows I felt dumb for not having known. I thought these women all seemed so wise. So experienced. So…parental.

It never dawned on me that they were all just as hapless and scared as I was, fudging their way through this mothering business one day at a time.

They were just a chapter ahead of me in the book.

So, to the pregnant woman who passed us on Park and 27th today, don’t worry. You’ll be fine.

None of us know what we’re doing either.


45 thoughts on “You May Ask Yourself…How Did I Get Here?”

  1. You’re right, that mom-to-be will be fine. Everything I need to know I learned from my infant…the most important things are being fed, warm and held. The same is true for teenagers — with only some minor modifications because they really eat a lot.Honestly when my very big almost 16 year old hugged me the other day, I said, “Put your head on my shoulder,” and he did. I asked, “See how it fits?” He nodded. “It will always fit because I’m your mom. No matter how big you are. Now go clean your room.” He laughed and walked away. He did not clean his room.

  2. Toddlers…I loved toddlers. So much going on with them. Every day was a journey, an adventure, a discovery. I remember being pregnant the first time too, and how I looked at those amazing little creatures. I miss mine.

  3. Whenever I’m out chasing the boys around, and a pregnant couple with one child walks past, I fit them with a hypnotist’s stare and say, “Gaze into your future!”I keep the evil “Muahahahah” to myself.

  4. And now I look longingly at those pregnant women, while they are looking at me thinking I’m crazy for wanting to start all over again! I remember the aches and misery of pregnancy, but I remember the joy and anticipation, too. I love the chapter I am at in my own book, but I wish I could just reread a few key chaps here and there…

  5. Even those of us who come to parenthood by adoption are in the same boat. We think we have it all figured out ahead of time — the books, the advice, the logic.All down the tubes when the baby arrives.And I can’t believe we were both channeling the Talking Heads today! :O

  6. I remember that the tagline at the top of your blog is what first attracted me to your writing – so many moons ago.I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, either. I don’t think any of us really do.

  7. Ah, if only we all could *know* when we’re in the muck that every body else is in it too.It’s eerie how you & Joanne used the same quote today!

  8. If we could remember that we’re all just making it up as we go along, maybe we’d be better to our fellow moms. (not you, per se; just reacting to something I read about the ‘mommy wars’).

  9. I’m so glad that other moms don’t know what they are doing. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one. What a relief!

  10. As usual Liz you take plain old wisdom and make it poetry. I do want to add one thing; you all have NO idea how lucky you are to have one another. Wisdom multiplies geometrically when it’s shared and you share so much. I would have given anything for this kind of community when my kids were small.I’m mom to two adults now and am here to tell you that every so often you hit a stage in their lives (a serious girl friend, a serious job crisis)where it’s all scary and new all over again. How to treat this (lovely, smart, classy) new woman; how much advice to give when the job is rocky — HOW TO SHUT UP!!!! Since most of you are the same age as my kids you know what I mean. So revel in each other and the treasure that is shared wisdom – and especially in the poets like our Liz….

  11. I remember when I was pregnant and everyone kept telling me how wonderful and beautiful it was to have kids. Except one friend, who told me it wasn’t magical, it was hell, but I’d be fine. I appreciated her words more than anything else, and I’m sure this mom-to-be appreciated you. Good for you!

  12. Thanks- I’m sitting around on maternity leave thinking about how much potential I have to screw this poor little kid up- and how much potential he has to change my life.

  13. I just made it to 28 weeks today… and I’m happy to report I resigned myself to being clueless about the time the stick showed two little lines.But it’s nice to know I’m not the only one. 🙂

  14. Oh my god, I am still laughing hysterically at your last post. And how awesome are you for sharing photos? (Clooney stand-in looks a little Billy Joelish…oops, I almost typed “Jowlish,” but that might have been okay.) Love the margarine. Love it. Brilliant. Kids are cute, you’re cute, John Malkovich is…well, does he have lockjaw, or am I imagining things? Time for a tetanus booster, JM!

  15. love this post…i have a 17 month old and still don’t know what i’m doing either! as we chase him everywhere, watch our language because he is a parrot, and grab him off everything he is climbing to save him from sure self destruction (!)we are crazy enough to be trying for #2. that’s crazy, right?

  16. When I was pregnant and I saw other people with babies, I don’t think I really got it – that I was on the path to being them. That they were me, just two months ago. I was so focused on being pregnant. Then with a newborn, I would smile at pregnant women, assuming they didn’t get it – that I was them two months ago. I also assumed everyone who was pregnant was a rookie, like me. The second time around, I still assumed everyone was a first-timer and didn’t know what I knew. I am finally realizing that some people are more clued in to the circle of life than I am.

  17. Whitney, you just said in a few words what I spent a whole post trying to say – when I was pregnant I didn’t realize that people with babies were me two months earlier. It’s like they had been moms their whole lives.

  18. That’s so sweet. I was a college co-ed when I had Shortman (an OLD college co-ed, but one none-the-less) and 300 miles from family. I wish you had walked by me!

  19. I remember being that woman this time last year. Man, I had some ideas about things…

  20. spent the evening talking to my new internet friend (in person!) about raising babies. She doesn’t think she’s cut out for it. Ha! Like anyone is cut out for it. Just happens and you just deal iwth it.

  21. i’m four weeks into my journey of mom of 2 boys, and i just wrote a big post about it! it’s an adjustment, and cannot be described! also-wanted you to know i blogrolled you!

  22. We all need help. and other resources for moms are essential for navigating through motherhood.

  23. I even watch the women who are slightly further along in pregnancy than me with awe. They talk about their doctor’s visits and all the details, and I listen with wide eyes trying to take it all in and learn the secret language.The next thing I get to be in on? The glucose test. The orange drink they all have in this secret society.Am I a dork for being excited about that?

  24. I wonder if the woman on Park & 27th has ever seen meconium. To my knowledge, anyone who has is far from fine. But I see your point.

  25. I had that fear induced/loving expression with other people’s children last year ~ I wish I had known none of their mom’s knew what they were doing either. That would have made the last 12 months so much easier 😉

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