Today is a big day (for me). Today, I’m officially back from maternity leave (though other than the month after giving birth I’ve been working behind the scenes way too much). But now my newborn is all grown up to a mature, smiling, giggling, toy grabbing three-month-old. He’s off to “school” (as his daycare aunties call it), and I’m back to work. It feels momentous, happy, and sad all at once. The brand-new person bubble is really and truly burst, and regular life has resumed. It’s regular life with lots of additional joy (and some tiredness) added, but forward we go. Now with a baby!
Which means this month’s theme is a perfect fit with my life: Decided. We live in a culture that talks a lot about setting goals. About deciding to do something and going for it. But more and more I find myself wondering what happens after we’ve decided? What happens when the brass ring is grabbed? What does the other side look like? What happens when we’ve gotten engaged, had the wedding, added the baby to the family, decided not to add a baby to the family, run the marathon, gotten the job, written the book? Once we’ve decided, drawn our line in the sand, and built our foundation (hopefully not on the sand), what does life look like?
This month, as I end maternity leave, I’m struck by human beings’ essential resilience. Just over three months ago, I was about as pregnant as a person can be, and worn down from being in on-and-off labor for weeks. Since then I’ve had two surgeries (long story), multiple hospital stays, become a mother, learned about breast feeding, colic, nighttime diapers, and my child’s joyful little personality, for starters. I’ve had my life shaken up in profound ways both emotionally and physically, and yet three months later, life looks about the same (not without complications, but with extra richness). I’m reminded of human resilience on the most simple physical level every day. Over the course of the last three months, I’ve had major surgery, minor surgery, slept very little, been in a lot of pain, swollen up with meds, and shed a ton of weight, and I am astounded by my body’s ability to heal. For me it’s a testament to what we can survive and how we can bounce back, after the decisions are made. In the process of deciding we often worry about the limits of what we can do, and in living with a decision we learn we contain multitudes and can do much. We’re stronger and wiser than we can possibly imagine.
So this month we’ll be discussing the stages of having decided. There’s the grappling, the thrill of having made a decision, and then living with what’s next. We’ll be discussing engagements and weddings (of course) and following up on last year’s Kid/No Kid week with stories of people that made that decision (one way or another) and are now living it out.
Which is fitting, as I dive headfirst back into work, now as a mother. Here is to the other side!
P.S. Next month’s theme is “The Good.” As anyone who’s ever Googled “headache” knows, the internet is full of doom and gloom, and stories convincing you that you’re probably going to die in the next five minutes. Somehow, we forget to collect all the good stories of our life and put them online. Next month, to celebrate spring, we’re sharing those stories of joy and complicated richness. Stories of wedding planning, relationships, and life gone… actually pretty damn good. Next month is APW’s happy trombone.