“View from the Front Seat” 8×8, oil on canvas
I think I know more pregnant people at this very moment that I have ever known in my life. Not only am I going to be an aunt (times two!) but at every holiday party this season or run-in with a friend or acquaintance there seemed another joyful announcement sometimes accompanied by a photo– that tiny black and white shiny paper with the little speck on it that contains the entire future, every hope. A photo of the entire, nearly invisible world. A glimpse into what will be.
I remember my first ultrasound of Ezra which I got very early on due to the complications I’d had in the past. Less than a dot, really. But I remember the elevator ride at the doctor’s office and not being able to look away from that ultrasound photo. I beamed at it as though I were looking at a kindergarten picture of my now grown son. The woman next to me in the elevator whispered, “Congratulations.”
I told myself not to be excited. I remembered looking at the woman and thinking, she just has no idea. Who knows if this child will live or die, and, if she did know, would she still congratulate me as though I were a “normal” woman with a “normal” pregnancy? A woman whose pregnancies always lead to warm children in their arms? I imagined thinking of my elevator companion were I to lose the baby. She would never know. For whatever reason, I was greatly troubled by her inevitable inability to know the outcome.
I got excited anyway. I couldn’t help it. It was the first ultrasound picture (and I’ve held many) that came without any caveats. I felt “normal”.
And then, eight or so months later, just as is normal, he was born, placed in my arms, and I wept.
It wasn’t too long after that that I began searching for a new “normal.” Reframe, my therapist tells me often, an appropriate exercise for an artist, I suppose.
So I’ve put 1,000 different frames on this whole idea of motherhood, single motherhood, parenting, providing, and I’m settling into this:
Parenting is difficult and thankless. It’s painful. It’s exhausting. But.
When I feel like I’ve been cheated, when my jealousies, anger, and self-righteousness seem to get the best of me as though I have been robbed of the life I had somehow earned or merited, I have only to look in my rearview mirror (for whatever reason, driving is when I feel most thoughtful). And each time I think, why would I lament anything on this earth when I’ve got the entire world in my backseat?
His is the face I will paint and repaint. From the closed, sleepy eyes of his earliest days, to the bright eyed grin of a boy who can (sometimes) use the potty. I am forever grateful.