Being a Parent Means Letting Go

There are a lot of things pregnancy prepares you for, they say; sleepless nights, solo bathroom experiences, whole blocks of time to yourself…

But I think the biggest of them all is letting go. I have only heard and never experienced yet what it is like to watch a baby you created grow up slowly (and quickly). He will begin his own life, which is of course what you want, but also not at all in a way. I can imagine it just a touch better now and I can see how parenthood is just a bunch of letting go.

I have had to let go of a lot so far just being pregnant. The first of which is my body. Carrying a life inside of me is profound and wonderful and aching and tiresome and welcome and cherished. While this little one does his thing, I have had to let go of my body for some time. Something else must grow and I can’t crash diet because I feel fat, or start a rigorous work out regimen, or even complain about my extraordinary cankels (they are top notch, by the way) because it’s just happening and I can’t do anything about it.

It has scared me because I’ve lost over 70 lbs before I become pregnant and that weight was mighty hard to lose, and well earned. I haven’t been this heavy in a very long time and although it feels much, much different this time around, it’s disturbing in a way. Puffiness and folds and things I haven’t felt in awhile are back, but I must let go of it. My body is functioning the way it needs to right now. My son is in there, thriving and eating and growing. It’s okay. It has to be.

Another one is letting go of my former life. I know this sounds just a tad dramatic, but it’s real. I’m happy being pregnant takes nine months because it gives me time to let go of how I lived before, sort of like a drawn-out good bye. I am just responsible for myself right now, and although I’m married, I don’t need to feed my husband or change his diaper (thank God…he doesn’t have diapers by the way). If I want to watch Breaking Bad again, I can, at any time I want (and also not have to explain to a child why an adult would want to suddenly become a drug lord). If I want to jump in the car and visit a friend, I can still do that. I know I won’t be able to soon and this is not a complaint, it’s just a change.

As I sat at my desk yesterday at work, I took a good look around; the book shelves, the busy New Jersey road outside the windows, the sound of young people being taught math and English and science. I realized that shortly, I won’t be such a big part of it anymore.

I will not be returning to full time work after the baby is born. I’ll continue working, but it won’t be at this pace. This building, these students, this job, won’t be my main focus any more. I will not be returning to the same person I was after the baby is born.

This all sound very dramatic, but it just hit me yesterday that I am saying goodbye to a part of my life I have become so used to. I’m not upset. I’m ready for it, as much as I can be I suppose. My personal goals will not disappear, but there will be more pressing ones for the time being.

I know there will be much more I need to let go of, especially when he arrives; things I won’t see coming, things I won’t like to change, and hopefully, things I will enjoy changing. Just as he is growing his body and his mind, I too will be growing.

Here’s one thing so far that I will miss: Every morning when I wake up, Ben wakes up too and sends me little kicks while I’m still stretching. I love this part of being pregnant. I can see the little bumps of his legs, or maybe an elbow, or even a rump, traveling over my belly and I know he’ll be in my arms soon. I will miss this, waking up to his little reminders.

I am letting go already, for better, more exciting things.