Something that I have been thinking about a lot lately is this idea that when your child is born, then too parenthood is born. The moment that my daughter came into being my husband and I were immediately thrust into our new roles of mommy and daddy. In my head, these new roles would effortlessly fit because we had planned and wanted this to happen for so long. We wouldn't be perfect at it and it would be hard at times but I was so sure our instincts would kick in and an instant family would be born.
This past week we have been on our very first family vacation where Audrey turned 8 months old. Just yesterday as I was crawling into bed, exhausted from our outing earlier that day, I thought, "We are finally beginning to feel like a family". Now, our situation is a bit more complicated than most. We have been on tour for the entirety of our daughters life so far and we recently spent 6 weeks apart while my husband bounced around to a new city every week and Audrey and I stayed with my mom and stepdad. This is obviously a road block that inhibited or at least delayed the process of our "becoming". Perhaps others find their groove at 5 or 6 months, but ours has taken 8 and I feel is just beginning.
Having this thought was completely shocking to me. It was immediately followed by a panic of questions to myself like "wait, haven't we been a family all along?" and "is this normal to take so long?" "Does everyone feel this way?" My husband and I have been a couple for 14.5 years. We are certainly no strangers to each other and I cannot tell you the countless number of times that I have envisioned him as the father of my children. It's one of the many reasons I fell madly in love with him. And yet, I find myself on a daily basis learning about him as Audrey's Dad much in the same way that I am learning about Audrey herself. I have also had the great privilege to stand back these past three weeks and watch the two of them figure each other out. I call it a privilege and now recognize it as such, but after 6 weeks alone with her, it was initially a struggle to share her and not step in when I perceived that he was struggling with her. He is of course more than capable of figuring it out or even better, finding the way that works best for him.
As I said before, our situation may be more unique than most. For most of my friends, as first time parents they are in one place and both are present daily and/or nightly. I have a sneaking suspicion however, that even then, there is a process of becoming that all families must go through. For most babies, the first four months of their lives are so primitive. A newborns' needs are so basic and as parents we try in the best way to meet them through the sleep deprivation and for us mamas, while letting our bodies heal. Those first months are so much about survival that there is little room for the emotional formation of the family. Only when the babies cognitive abilities start to kick in do real relationships begin to form. All of a sudden we are thrown into a period of discovery. Discovering our baby, ourselves as mom or dad, our partner in their newly acquired role and the unit as a whole, this family.
When I really reflect on it, I recognize that perhaps I bought into the myth that babies bring joy. I mean, of course they do! But they also bring confusion, overwhelming chaos, doubt, fear, anxiety, frustration...the list goes on. Please don't read this as me complaining or bashing having a baby. It's the greatest thing I have done so far in my life. In fact I want more of them! But it's no wonder that with all of these emotions present, "being" a family is less of a solid structure and more of a fluid movement. It's malleable and ever changing. It's also probably why the most complex relationships we have are those we have with our family members.
Today we spent the day at the pool, laughing and lounging the afternoon away. Tomorrow we get on a plane and go back to our reality of being that little gypsy family who carry only what they need in the trunk of their car and are racking up a good amount of pins for the big map we will one day display in our eventual home. As with any end to a vacation, there is sadness to see it end as well as excitement to resume a refreshed existence. I am not naive enough to believe that from here on out, our vacationing selves will transfer completely to our every day life. I also fully believe that we will only keep evolving and changing as she grows and we grow. But having these precious few days to clear away all the other stuff, to be in a space where we are obligated only to each other has been immeasurable. We have not purchased any souvenirs and have only a handful of pictures to remember this week by. But as my husband and daughter (and even the dog) lay on the bed, giggling back and forth with each other, I smile. My husband throws my daughter up in the air and I just sit, contentedly, with my family.
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.