When I first saw Hannah, I didn't have my glasses on. My newborn daughter was a blurry face wrapped up like a burrito in a pink and blue striped hospital blanket held aloft by her pediatrician. I was still being stitched up after an emergency c-section and my glasses were in my husband’s shirt pocket. I squinted my eyes to see Hannah better. I could make out that her eyes were blue: vivid blue eyes in an inscrutable expression. “This is my daughter, I have a daughter” I kept repeating to myself. It was days before those words felt real to me.
Despite all the horror stories of pregnancy heartburn and long labor, I found the emotional journey of becoming a mother much more arduous than any physical aspect of conception, pregnancy or birth. There are these tiny milestones that all add up to the sudden realization that another life is dependant upon you: the first nursing session, the first night of rooming in, fixing the car seat straps, carrying the baby up a flight of stars, figuring out how to slip a sleeping baby peacefully onto the bed, the first time you change her diaper alone in a public restroom. There were so many, many first moments.
At first it seems overwhelming. Then you start to do a task slowly, and clumsily. Then you start to make up some of your own short cuts. Before you know it, you feel like a pro- at least for a few moments before suddenly the game changes and your back at square one again (only this time dragging even more kids behind you.)
I’m at a new stage in my mothering. After one and a half years of worrying, after four months of solid praying—my husband and I have made a plan to home-school our daughter for kindergarten. I’m more than a little intimidated.
My state happens to have strict home-schooling guidelines complete with a twice-yearly portfolio review. After a few nights of not being able to sleep because I was excited about planning the curriculum (one whole week devoted to “ducks”- what they eat, where they live and my favorite Boston story “Make Way for Ducklings) I started freaking out about meeting all these impossible school standards. “How am I going get our plan approved?” I asked my husband at 3:30 AM. My beloved spouse gently reminded me that I did in fact practice Education law for four years. Moreover, as the daughter of an Education professor I grew up breathing Educational Theory in the womb, if not precisely studying it in college.
Next January, I hope my nervousness over home schooling seems as odd as remembering my panic of diapering a newborn in public for the first time. Change always starts with a deep breath and a few wobbling first steps.