My son plays futbol in a field adjacent to a small hospital with a big maternity ward. Hospital security patrols the parking lot with the passion of a zealot, trying to catch those who break the rules and park close to the field in spite of the warnings posted all over the place. I never want to risk having my car towed away, and I want to make sure I keep my son in plain sight as he walks to his team's meeting place, so I just drop him off by the curb.
The other day, the day of the final, I was waiting for Gorgeous to reach his team so I could park in the allowed parking lot (awfully designed, crowded, faraway from the field). A young girl (a sign I'm getting old: people in their early 20's look like babies to me) cradled her swollen belly, barely able to walk. I assume it was her husband, another young one, who supported her weight as she took tremulous steps to the ER. My first reaction was outrage.
What was he thinking? Why didn't he just park right in front of the ER and took her inside and then took care of the car! Why didn't he just lift her in his arms? She couldn't walk! She was obviously in active labor.
They stopped in the middle of the road. They looked like they were in their own little world. Her face, etched with concentration. Oh how I felt what she was going through!
And then I saw his face. He was so young. His arm, protectively circling the two people who needed him the most: his wife and his unborn child. How scared he looked. And then I felt bad for judging him.
I was relieved when the security guard, for once ignoring the parking rules breaking people, found a wheelchair for the young mother and escorted them inside the hospital.
I prayed that their baby was healthy and safe. He was obviously loved already. And I also prayed for those young, young parents. That they may find confidence and strength. For the sleepless nights, for the scraped knees, the wounded little hearts that would come to them for comfort and confidence and strength.
Nine years ago, that young couple were Jeff and I. In spite of reading all the pregnancy/parenting books we could get our hands on, we had no idea of what we were doing, what we had gotten ourselves into. I remember the feeling on the drive to the ER. The clammy hands, the apprehension, the fear. That was it. In a few more hours, I'd meet my baby. My life would never be the same. And I also remember Jeff's eyes. Poor Jeff!
There's nothing like that first time. The day your child is born, and you become a father or a mother. There's no going back either.
The fear, the dread, the apprehension, the clammy hands, never really go away, not completely. I still don't know what I'm doing. My poor Gorgeous, my guinea-pig, has to put up with my inexperience for everything. From changing diapers to science fair projects, we're learning together. He teaches me all the time.
Another mother's day, another day to remember that beginning of this journey that has no end.
Happy mother's day, to all the mothers who everyday learn with their children how to be a better person, how to enjoy life.