As I was riding down the street the other day, I saw yet another Nativity scene in the neighborhood and I had a flash of a connection. American society treats childbirth and Christmas in exactly the same way. There is a lot of excitement in the preparation, but when the baby actually comes, no one sticks around for long.
I explained my theory to my husband and he found it a little overwrought. Perhaps it is. I do think there is a connection, though. We put a lot of emphasis on hype and rarely linger in celebration. I spent some time trying to think of anything where we spend more time in the event than we did preparing for it. Thanksgiving, maybe?
The real question is why would a Nativity scene lead me to think about postpartum America. I am not exactly postpartum. My "baby" is three and a half years old. I think I might have some postpartum trauma. A nativity scene shouldn't be triggering.
I've touched on this topic in the past: the utter abandonment I felt with Grace, the trauma of Olivia not taking a bottle, the crushing return to work after Marian. Sam was fine, as best as I remember. In a lot of ways, I feel like in spite of having four children, I have put in a lot of infant work while rarely reaping the infant reward. I love babies, but my time whiled away enjoying them has been short indeed. Time has always been pressing in. Is that the normal way of things?
And what to do about it?
At what point do you say that the choices you made are what they are and you just missed out. I didn't know I'd feel robbed, but I do and that's life. Grow up and move on, right?
Or do you get on the roller coaster again? Do you take the chance of misery and heartbreak to grasp those fleeting moments, to rock a baby with confidence and competence, without a clock unceasingly ticking? Even if you know you probably wouldn't punch that ticket if you had gotten the chance to do it even once before. Is it even reasonable to think it would make a difference?
What's the line between selfishness, unrealistic dreams, and fear?
I've built up in my mind what the non-working, postpartum months should look like. I'm likely wrong. Is it worth finding out?