The End is The Beginning
A vacation. My wedding. Christmas.
These are all things I’ve looked forward to. I marked red X’s on the calendar and counted down the days. The event arrived, and then it was over. Most things we look forward to seem to have a finite beginning and end.
When I found out I was pregnant in December I marked the calendar with my baby’s due date: August 17. There it was in black and white. His birth was a major event to look forward to.
It’s like I’ve been preparing for a marathon, slowly building up my stamina for the big day. Going on long walks, reading books, decorating the nursery. So much build up to the big event. Typically, after the race is a time to relax, reflect, and decompress. But after this baby arrives there will be none of that. And that’s because his arrival is certainly not the end.
Sam and I just moved into a new home and had the chance to meet one of our neighbors, a mother of two small boys. I asked how her births went and she seemed to go to another place:
“When you’re in labor - that’s when you become a mom. You finally understand what everyone's been talking about. You don’t care how this baby comes out. You don’t care if you die. All you care about is that the baby is okay.”
I’ve heard about this mother thing. I’ve seen it in movies when women go into labor and all they care about is the baby’s health. But hearing a real life person say she didn’t care if she died brought me to a whole new level of understanding and appreciation. This baby’s birth might feel like I’m crossing the finish line, but really it’s the very beginning of motherhood.
I suppose people do think about what comes after the race. Maybe they start planning for the next marathon. Maybe they want to attempt a triathlon or ultramarathon. Or maybe they’re one and done, but the completion of the race has now motivated them to think about the next big challenge they’d like to face.
The point is, endings are beginnings:
- A vacation is a reset. When I get home from vacation I’m refreshed and ready to tackle next projects. It’s the beginning of productivity.
- My wedding was the start of an official commitment to Sam. Marriage began a new phase of our life.
- Christmas is a magical day that begins with love and family and ends with reflection and plans for the New Year. Each Christmas is an opportunity to make resolutions.
I’ve been counting down the months to my baby’s birth, thrilled for his long-awaited entrance into this world. But I’m no longer focused on the finish line (although I would like to run a good time!). I’m not even focused on what happens after the race, which I’m sure will involve sleepless nights and this crazy thing called breastfeeding.
If every ending is also a beginning, why not simply cherish each phase as it comes?
In my current phase, I’ve got an 8lb baby in my belly. Sam and I talk to him every day. We thank him for waiting to come into this world until we moved into our new home and we tell him that finally, we’re ready when he is. We curse as we assemble furniture and freeze meals in preparation. We read parenting books out loud to each other on our back porch every morning. We marvel at pregnancy and say to each other at least once a day, “Can you believe we’re about to have a baby?”
These are the last days and weeks we’ll be just a couple. Just the two of us. I think that’s a phase worth cherishing.