|Roman and Alex: chocolate-chippity-apple-pancake-style|
I have one week to rearrange my daily life's paradigm. One week to accept that my life right now is probably the easiest it will ever be. In one week, a new person enters the world and enters our family and we embark on yet another, unique adventure in parenthood. 10 months ago I could not have told you this would be happening, but I can't remember ever feeling more sure that something was meant to be. With this baby, this miraculous little person who nobody thought could be, cosmic divinity and fate has intervened in my perfectly planned life in a way that could not be more unexpected or more welcome. And such is the pleasant but precariously balanced reality of parenthood, a delicate dance between serendipity, hope and determination. I have rarely in my life experienced such contentment in the moment and such excitement for the future.
Everyone's entrance into the world is different, every pregnancy or adoption its own bubble of a world. Roman's birth was unique in that it was our first, and he larger than life in both character and size. Alexander's birth and entrance into our lives through adoption was in many ways the opposite of Roman's - we had two weeks' notice, total, for example - but no less filled with excitement and love. Peace is a word that defines both his character and the feeling I had when I met him for the first time. And now this third baby - the one true surprise I've ever had in my entire life (not kidding) - has brought a depth of appreciation for how blessed (and you know I never use that somewhat cliched word) we are beyond anything I could have guessed. At this point in my pregnancy with Roman I was swollen, miserable and impatient. I think by the time I was told I'd be having an emergency c-section I was almost relieved. When we were matched with Alexander's birth mother I pretty much refused to believe it would work out until he was in my arms. But with this baby I feel content, warm, fulfilled - and kind of in awe of how smoothly everything is going despite the fact that we've had a very stressful past two months.
The one thing all three of these welcomings into the world have in common is the unexpected. They were all different, in the end, than we thought they would be. And, actually, all of them were all the better for it.
It's probably obvious and inevitable that I have been reflecting on motherhood and parenthood in general a lot lately - especially to anyone whose had a chance to talk to me. In this last week, there's such a large element of wondering just how having a third child will change our family dynamic: wondering whether the brothers will all get along, what new level of madness the third dimension will unleash in the house, and what new depth of love and awe he will surely inspire. There's no more concern for me about "how can I love him as much as the others" because I know now that there's limitless space to love your children in your heart as a parent, whether you have one or twenty. In fact, the incredible reality that your heart simply grows with your family, and that you just can't help that, is perhaps the first real "unexpected" of parenthood.
There are other unexpected realities. One such is the way that you are happy and willing to throw life into utter upheaval for the sake of a creature who screams when he's hungry and shows little appreciation for the world revolving around him. You gleefully rearrange all the routine, predictability and calmness you've worked so hard to establish with your current children in order to welcome this little angel of a tyrant and never look back.
But I think the most unexpected thing is the level of contentment I feel right now at the hectic, crazy, wonderful and all-engulfing role as a mother. I yell, I get cranky, I curse the gods, but at the end of the day - I feel damn good about choosing to be a mom, and about doing it with Matt. I've never experienced anything even close to as rewarding or challenging. And sometimes that gets lost in the quotidian complaints or the funny articles about the mind-numbing daily chores involved in raising miniature human beings who don't always "get it." But it's never lost completely. And it resurfaces relentlessly in all the unforgettable small things - like Alexander learning to twirl with his arms out in the kitchen with his brother and dad, like Roman laying in bed with us asking questions about our colleges and what it's like to live away from home, like watching the two go down the slide together and then smile at each other conspiratorially (not unlike Matt and I probably do on a daily basis).
The greatest happiness is living the life of your dreams. Maybe 10 years ago people could not have guessed this life would be it for me - as wrapped up as I was in my jobs, my education, my self. But looking back right now I can see no other road more worth the trip. And I am so thankful for that.