your voice like the sound of sirens to a house on fire

A year before Ethan was conceived, I found myself at the beginning of something that I can only think to describe as some kind of quarter-life crisis. It was a term that made people chuckle or roll their eyes, assuring me that I was still young and didn’t know what a true crisis was all about. There was most definitely a crisis brewing within me and though I wasn’t at all able to give it a name that didn’t trivialize it, it was there.

I was working long days at a job that I hated for skimpy paychecks that could barely cover my gas for the week, coming home frustrated and trying to figure out how to live. Trying to figure out how to be a pleasant, happy companion for my wonderful husband, how to fix dinners and tend to laundry and make time for friends and family without running out of steam. Mostly I just napped on the couch. There was something missing. At first I thought I just needed to read more. I used to read a minimum of five books a week and I was barely making time to finish two or three a month. So I read more, cooked more, baked more, watched more films, listened to more music and yet nothing filled that untouchable void that I couldn’t reach. I found myself on a therapist’s couch, desperately trying to figure out who I was. Who I really, really, really was.

I toyed with feelings of inferiority and insecurity about the path I took after high school. “Published author at 17 who attends community college in a backwards, backwoods town just to not be separated from her boyfriend who was already in college first” made me sound like the kind of person I hated and secretly (or not-so secretly) judged in predictable cotton candy movies. I loved my husband from the first moment I laid eyes on him as a fifteen year old girl who wrote about love and longing in journals with scalloped pages and knew I would never dream to do things differently. The pain and tragedy and love and explosion of romanticism was always a part of me, always longing to be lived out and loving with each goodnight kiss over the years that it got to be. Yet I had not become a writer as so many thought and I found myself making excuses ad nauseum for the reasons behind my failures. Or were they failures? Or were they nothing at all but pipedreams cloaked in remnants of promise?

Before long, I wasn’t sure who I was. I tried desperately to figure it out, turning to the books I used to read and the melancholy singers I used to cry along with, hoping one of them would spell it out for me and place me where I belonged. I reconnected with old friends, hoping they would share a piece of my story to remind me who I was. As it would turn out, my very first boyfriend’s recounting of a 14 year old me wasn’t who I was – probably fortunately – and I continued my quest for self-confirmation.

My husband is a realist. He always has been, whereas I take dreams as gospel. We spoke about having children constantly over the years, especially during those years where you stop rolling your eyes at toddlers playing at the table next to you at Cheesecake Factory and instead make silly faces at them, laugh with them, engage in conversation about how nifty their shoes are and how great their drawings are, only to be sadly reminded they’re going home with their parents, and so you spend the drive home throwing out names for your future children and imagining their careers and dreams and goals and, oh, if they’ll have your eyes or your nose or your mouth or your bad skin and droopy hair.

The decision to have children of our own was made during this time when something was missing from our lives, when I couldn’t figure out who I was and what I was supposed to be doing with my days, when my husband was working around the clock and we were beginning to miss one another with the feverish, clammy pangs of hurt that we got as highschoolers having to go home to our parents houses for the night. A lot of things hold sentimental in regards to Ethan’s conception – mostly because I’m just a sentimental person – but one thing hits me the strongest: the day I peed on that stick (okay, 27 of them), I stopped feeling lost. I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I stopped feeling like I failed at anything or everything or maybe even some things. I stopped trying to figure out who I was, mostly because I had just figured it out: I was a mother. And as the second set of pink lines appeared on all of those tests, that void within my heart was filled. I was a mother.

My pregnancy wasn’t glamorous. It was disgusting and probably unsanitary as only sleeping next to coolers of your own urine could be. It was scary – okay, terrifying – and painful and maybe some things didn’t go the way I idealistically planned while I sat on bedrest writing the blueprints for my son’s first months of life. Yet even sitting on my mother’s couch with frozen chicken breasts on my swollen, throbbing ankles, I was complete in ways I never imagined that I could be. And while my husband and parents and relatives and friends mostly worried about my well-being during those foreboding perinatologist appointments, I was mostly worried about that little boy inside my belly because already I loved him. Already I knew him, and not just because his foot aimed right at my butt rendered me unable to sit without the assistance of a blow-up hemorrhoid pillow.

So here I sit, almost a year since Ethan was born. I’m fairly in denial about this whole “turning one” thing, mainly because I can’t believe so much time has passed since the day he came screaming into this world at 11:45 p.m. on my great-grandfather’s birthday. I’m also just really, really blown away that it’s been a year since Ethan breathed all of this new purpose and meaning into my life and showed me what it really means to be me. More than the films and the literature and parting my hair to the left and not wearing any lipgloss other than light pink and not driving in the rain, he was able to show me who I really was inside. I’ve always been longing to be his mother and then I was, just like that, and now he’s almost a year old, just like that.

My Bubbie used to call me “a jack of all trades, master of none” and we’d laugh at what a truth that was. I wish she was here to see me now, though, as Ethan’s mother. I’ve finally found something I’ve mastered. I’ve finally found something I wanted more than anything and maybe never knew I needed so badly and I get to kiss it good morning and good night and listen to him laugh when I tickle just to the left of his bellybutton.

You are the yellow bird that I've been waiting for...


  1. aww...lindsay...this was the absolutely the sweetest post ever. i cannot believe he is almost one!


  2. This is amazing Lindsay. You express the exact longing and love that a mother feels for her child ... Ethan's a lucky little boy!!!

  3. You are such a wonderful mother! I know the "lost" feeling so well. I'm so glad you found something you love, and Ethan is so lucky to have you!

  4. What a sweet testament to the joys and challenges of motherhood. Thanks for sharing!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...