But as this baby draws nearer, I am starting to become aware that I am afraid. I am starting to wish that most people wouldn't make half-menacing statements to me in discussing the pregnancy (like the "you think you don't get sleep now..." or "well enjoy married life while you can..."), because I'm afraid that those comments have stuck somewhere and are now creeping into my consciousness, giving me a worried feeling I can't quite shake.
It's an odd thing to be suddenly facing what you have wanted for most of your life, and realizing that, though it is something you have always prepared for, you remain infinitely, hopelessly unprepared. I keep thinking to myself, I'm going to come home with a new human and...then what? The multiplicity of issues that could arise are beginning to fly into my brain at lightning speed: problems with labor and delivery, problems with bonding, the possibility of post partum depression, the craziness of the first six weeks, problems nursing, no sleep, health problems for baby.
At least I won't be smoking around my child, but beyond that, I'm sure there are ten billion other ways to screw up royally.
I do not know many people whom I have watched become mothers. I know mothers; fully-formed mothers, women I could never imagine as anything but what they are - nuturing, scolding, easy-going mothers. And I know women who aren't yet, but want to be mothers. I have only one friend who has become a mother in my time knowing her, but she is far away; I missed out on the transition. It seems like one day she wasn't, and then the next time I saw her, she was. No transition time; easy, seamless.
So lets be honest: I am frightened. Frightened that this is a test I will most certainly fail, frightened of the responsibility that comes with having a child, frightened of the change that will surely come, especially to my marriage, frightened that parenthood will turn me into someone that I don't want to be.
In addition to the fears that stem mostly from the idea of inadvertent death or misery, I also fear the growing up. What if she does survive...but I still fail as a parent? My fears for her adult self range from the mundane to the extreme: what if she is ungrateful or rude, is a mean person, is chronically irresponsible, leaves the Faith, becomes an addict, decides she hates me, hurts herself or someone else irreparably? What if I do everything I can - and still she chooses a different path? I have witnessed parents' pain when their children make bad decisions. Families yoke us together, families mean that we feel pain for choices we have no ability to change. And here I am - I've decided to have a family! I chose this as my vocation, in response to God's call. I have opened myself to this incalculable risk, the greatest vulnerability of my life.
As much as I am thinking about getting everything in order and organized, as much as I jokingly complain that October can't come soon enough, I am in actuality trying to make peace with my vocation, again. I am trying to face this great summit of my fear and believe that God wants this for me, and that I can do this - even if it far harder than I imagined, even if I feel like I am failing, even if all my fears come true. Even if they did, I have to come to a place where I stake my peace on the reality that God wants this for me, and lack of perfection does not mean I have failed to live out his will - or that I will be unhappy.