It was a beautiful summer afternoon as we pulled into the park and were greeted by my husband’s new co-workers. Little did I know that this work picnic, the first of many, would be one that would go down in infamy for our family for years to come.
We had recently graduated from college. Just weeks before we’d unloaded a moving truck into a little apartment in a new town. My husband had started his first real job right out of college, we were poor, and I was VERY pregnant. We were expecting our first son in just a matter of weeks. Life was changing in every way for us, and we were thrilled about our new adventures.
We mingled with our new friends, watched the kids run around on the inflatable jump houses, and gobbled up some delicious burgers provided by the company. Then came the kickball game. I LOVE kickball. Really, I love being involved in any organized sport. Capture the flag, volleyball, basketball, ultimate frisbee, badminton…I might not be the best, but you can certainly count me in! Well, except in this case. I was pregnant. “That’s ok,” I said to myself. “There will be plenty more kickball games.” So I sat on the side ready to cheer on my husband and his team. Halfway through the game it hit me like a load of bricks. “No, there WON’T be many more kickball games. From now on I will always be the cheerleader. No more kickball, no more baseball. No more badminton. I can kiss volleyball goodbye. I’ll be playing peek-a-boo with a baby until HE’S big enough to run those bases. I’ll be rooting for his teams from the stands for the next 18 years. Then other children we have. Then grandchildren. From now on I’ll always be a cheerleader, never a player.”
What happened next I totally blame on pregnancy and hormones. I cried. I more than cried, I bawled. I hid in a corner of the park and fell into a pitiful, pregnant puddle of self pitty. We were excited for this baby! We’d seen him on the ultrasound screen and our hearts had melted. I wouldn’t trade that great big belly for anything in the world. Not even a stupid kickball game. But at that moment I realized that my life was changing in ways I’d never experienced. Suddenly I wasn’t sure I was ready to give up everything I knew. I was scared. Terrified. Could I even do this? I was so young! I was going to have to give up so much! Yep, totally hormones.
Then the kickball game was over. My dear husband found me and was so concerned. “Did someone die? Did you get hurt? Oh my gosh, is it, you know, TIME??” That’s when it hit me how silly my little charade had been. I was horrified to admit what had just taken place in my mind. Finally on the way home he coerced it out of me. Then he laughed! No sympathy at all. To this day he reminds me of that kickball game at the park and what pregnancy can do to my emotions.
Sometimes thinking about that day I laugh too. What a silly, selfish girl I was. But really, my emotions weren’t totally unfounded. So, I have played kickball a time or two since that day. I’ve even played baseball (8 months pregnant, I might add), volleyball and soccer. I was not sent to solitary confinement of cheerleading forever more like I’d pictured. I still have opportunities to do the things I love. But my life DID change. More than I ever could have imagined even at that brief hormonal moment at the park. The day we brought that sweet bundle home I gave up myself. My life became totally enveloped in the well-being and happiness of that little boy. Just like countless mothers before me and countless after. My little, selfish kickball-loving bubble had burst. It was replaced with something so much greater. More than I knew I was capable of.
To all those contemplating motherhood or to those that may find themselves in a situation they weren’t sure they were ready for, I would tell you that becoming a mother will challenge you, change you, and turn your life upside-down. A ten-minute shower will become a luxury. A full night’s sleep might be something you only dream of (when you get a chance to dream). A simple trip to the grocery store might become a nightmare. Your every thought will change, your future will no longer be centered around you. You might even have to sit out on a few kickball games (gasp!). But life is not over. And what it becomes is totally worth it. No, it’s MORE than worth it. What you gain from bringing a tiny baby to your home is indescribable. You will learn to love a little human being in ways you never knew possible. And they will love you back! You will learn to live for more than yourself. You will put their needs above your own countless times a day, and you’ll be thankful you have the chance to. You’ll learn a level of service that you couldn’t experience otherwise. Those little hands will reach out for yours and you won’t be sure your heart can hold all the emotions you have. You’ll learn about unconditional love.
I read a quote the other day by Donna Ball that said, “Motherhood is a choice you make every day, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.” Motherhood is HARD. It’s exhausting, emotionally and physically. But it is wonderful, amazing, and miraculous. I will never regret sitting out a silly kickball game that day in the park, or many times since. A part of me changed that day, never to return. But what it was replaced with I wouldn’t trade for the world.