I had a weird moment today. I found out someone is pregnant and I was suddenly washed over with the huge awareness of the journey she’s begun and what lies ahead for her.
I barely know her and as far as I know there’s nothing unusual or worrying about her being pregnant. So it wasn’t her, it was me.
She sat there looking all vulnerable with her rounded belly and I wanted to say something but I fumbled for words and looked odd and uncomfortable. I wasn’t imagining that because she was looking at me oddly.
I did first manage to wish her a heart-felt congratulations but then I came over all awkward, because a floodgate of knowledge about the journey opened in my mind and I was flooded.
Because you see, for example I know that – however she’s feeling about this pregnancy – it’s already stirring deep things for her – things that would be completely inappropriate for us to discuss in a casual encounter in an office. She may not even be aware of what has been stirred, maybe she’s just aware that she’s feeling a lot of feelings. I don’t know this for sure but it’s my assumption because she’s PREGNANT after all. I also know that she and her partner are probably experiencing some shifts between them and that her life ahead… wow, her life is about to crack open, empty itself out and rearrange itself.
So what do I say?
Sometimes too much knowledge makes things very complicated don’t you find?
What would I say if I could really speak honestly without concern for social decorum? Well I’d say something like;
“Wow, pregnant?! You’ve just climbed on a rollercoaster! How ARE you? How are you really? Are you scared? Isn’t it freaky how your body is changing? What’s it doing to your world view?
Whew this parenting thing! Get ready for a ride like no other. If you can let go of the need to be in control you’ll find it much easier.
Just know that right now you are being STIRRED UP. It’s like a big wooden spoon has gone right to the center of you and is mixing things up. All the stuff you’ve carefully packed away inside yourself – the hurts from your childhood, the insecurities, the prejudices and judgements – are all getting shifted off their usual perches now. It’s like the pregnancy stretches everything out of shape.
Things you think are true now are going to be dis-proven and ways you thought the world should be are about to upend. Over the coming years the displaced things will occasionally bump you or trip you up and you’ll need to decide if you want to keep them or not and where to store them now.
Becoming a parent is an amazing, AMAZING opportunity to get to know yourself deeply. The pregnancy, the birth, the new-born and later your growing child will for the REST OF YOUR LIFE show you the parts of yourself you are most proud of and the parts of yourself of which you are most ashamed. You have absolutely no control over that. Your control only comes in where you get to decide what you want to do with that information about yourself.
If you want to really benefit from the nice parts of parenting you have to also show up for the not-nice parts. You don’t know about those yet, but you will. People don’t talk about this much but being a parent is helluva scary and often uncomfortable. It’s also so deeply thrilling at times there are just no words for it and if you are lucky, and you allow it, you won’t believe just how much love can fit into you.
I’m standing here now looking at the ‘before picture’ of you. I don’t know how your ‘after-picture’ will look – but I know it will be different to now. You’re about to realise stuff about yourself you never dreamed. Whew.
You don’t even know yet the stretching you are about to undergo, what challenges await you on all levels – physical, emotional and spiritual…”
Can’t really say all that to a newly pregnant person.