You know, surprise babies have a way of shaking things up.
For one, you are utterly unprepared to welcome them into your home. You’re prepared in the someday sense, of course. Someday before the baby comes, we’ll set up the crib. Someday, we’ll be sure to find those outlet covers. Someday, we’ll replace the monitor batteries.
But then you get a phone call that – surprise! – a baby is here, and he is yours, and can you welcome him tonight?
And there is only one answer.
On the drive to the hospital, you realize the state of the nest you’re bringing this baby bird into. You panic a bit, realizing Bee’s old crib is still dismantled in the spare room which has become a storage closet for everything you never found a place for: out-of-season coats, extra sheets, hotel soaps. Currently, he has no nursery.
He has no car seat, no sling. No bath tub.
You haven’t even picked out a name.
You begin to think you are perhaps in over your head here.
Do you know the beauty of being in over your head?
When you are in over your head, you are out of your head entirely. Your mind is simply out of commission. Gone. There is no over-thinking, no strategizing, no attempts to control the scenario with a tidy game plan and a to do list.
Your head has left the building.
It is just you and your heart now.
When I was pregnant with Bee, I spent nine long months doing one of two things: sleeping, Googling.
I am not a nurturer by nature, and am largely uncomfortable doing new things. Babies intimidated me with all of their squirms and cries and the million hidden dangers (Honey?! Who knew?) and when I felt in over my head, when I began to imagine the weighty task of bringing a baby into this world, I’d take to Google.
It never helped. (#Understatement.)
I didn’t need more information. I didn’t need more head, more mind, more strategy.
I needed more faith.
You’ll figure it out, friends would say.
We’ll learn as we go, Ken would say.
But when do we install the outlet covers? I would say.
And now, everything is different.
My mind – all fear and doubts and question marks – is no longer in the lead.
My heart is.
We’ve been moving slowly, unpacking what we need as we need it. A swaddle here, Bee’s old onesies there. Eventually, the crib. Yesterday, Bee stumbled upon a giant cardboard box with wide eyes and a curious smile.
What’s that one? she asks.
A baby gate, I say.
Can I see?
We assemble it together, push the lock, close the door.
Mom! she squeals with delight. It’s a puppet show, isn’t it? You got us a puppet show!
And she runs into the office to find her popsicle sticks, resurfacing a half hour later with dried-glue on her fingers and a handful of sticker puppets.
These littles of ours, they’re in over their heads, too. The learning, the re-learning, the boundaries and change and growth. It’s all too much to take sometimes.
So they lead with their heart, and we do our best to follow along.
Where I see fear, she sees adventure.
Where I see doubt, she sees opportunity.
Where I see baby gates, she sees puppet shows.
We’ll set up Scout’s crib later. We’ll know when he’s ready for 5 ounces, we’ll know when he’s outgrowing his swaddle. We’ll learn his cries, his quirks. We’ll know when he’s teething, or maybe we won’t.
We’ll know what we need to know. We have more than enough. We will be ready.
What’s the show about? I ask as she takes position behind the gate, clears her throat, announces her characters.
I don’t know yet, she says. But you’re gonna love it.
I sure will.