So there are just under two weeks left until the official due date for our first child, which I have learned is a fairly arbitrary date determined by a German guy in the late 1800's who decided that a pregnancy should be "10 moon months." So, according to the obstetric wisdom that follows, sometime between tomorrow and three weeks from now, we can expect our little boy to make his appearance.
It's an exciting, magical, and physically uncomfortable time... these last few days of our long journey toward parenthood. From the first conversations MDH & I had about children while we were dating, to our struggles with infertility, through the joys and anxieties of the pregnancy.... we are now on the cusp of a whole new chapter of our lives.
I chose to take maternity leave a little early from my jobs, for both health and sanity reasons, and it's been a wonderful decision so far. Not only have I had enough time to rest and relax, so that I feel a little more prepared for labor and delivery; but I have also given myself the gift of time to think. It's such an indulgence, I'm realizing, to have time to focus completely on myself for a few weeks.... I have enjoyed spending time at the pool, taking long walks, working around the house at an easy pace, running errands on my own schedule, reading long-neglected books, seeing movies with MDH, etc., etc.
There are also some challenges presented with this decadent downtime. I don't work all that well without a bit of structure, so I often feel I get less done in 8 open hours than I would in 2 rushed ones. It's hard for me not to measure myself at the end of each day by what I've accomplished, and the value of relaxation can be less than tangible. And even though I planned this time in order to rest, I couldn't resist making a list of "projects" for myself, which of course I haven't completed. So I alternate between luxurious relaxation and thinly veiled guilt.
The other blessing and curse of all this free time is the ability to slow down and look at where I am career-wise. As I contemplate my next moves, post-maternity leave, I'm realizing that I really want to be a "Sunday player" (gotta love a football analogy). In other words, I want to work hard enough, and with a sufficient level of passion at something, to be truly great at it. A real pro. I'd like to channel my working energies into purpose, direction and even expertise.
This has been tough lately given what I affectionately refer to as my "Career ADD," this sort of spastic dance I've been doing for the past few years. I'm interested in so many things, and competent enough at several of them, that I often find myself following whatever is most pressing, fascinating, or available at the moment. And no sooner do I start wandering down one road, than I find myself missing aspects of the road not taken. It's a perpetual case of the grass is always greener, I guess.... one of the pitfalls of having a wide range of interests and a flexible spirit. It's hard to specialize when choosing one area means giving little or no attention to the others. Manda of All Trades, Master of None?
In the middle of all this, I'm about to embark on the hardest, most important job I'll ever have... being a parent. Some days it doesn't even seem real yet (despite the little person kicking me in the ribs). It's hard to imagine, sitting here staring at the lump in my belly, what parenthood will be like, or how I will be at it. It's one of life's biggest and most miraculous mysteries, and it seems to put all my career musings in perspective.
I'm sure my perspective will only continue to evolve once the baby arrives, and I'm swimming sleep-deprived in feedings and crying and diaper changes. Who knows what I will learn about myself and my purpose in life when this new person comes to live with us? Part of me is hoping for insight. Part of me is just hoping to survive!
So, right now my life is all about waiting. Watching for signs of true labor. Ruminating about the future. Planning (or attempting to plan) for the uncontrollable. Hoping... that the baby is healthy, that my parenting skills will be enough, and that at some point on this journey I can reconnect to an internal passion for life and work. And maybe if I can find that passion and really live it, it will someday be inspiring to this little person I'm carrying around, as he looks for his own path.