I remember the first time the weight of motherhood settled on me. Growing up, there was one thing I was sure of: I was going to do everything differently than the way it had been done in my house. Must be part of the wiring of an intuitive, introverted, feeling, judging person, the watching and evaluating, the tossing aside of things that obviously don't work.
But I loved children, and I knew I wanted a houseful. We welcomed the helpless, squirming newborn with open arms and happy eyes, and I drank in the wonder of him, the wonder of the chance to get it all right.
I'd read every book I could get my hands on, sure of my approach, anxious to do it my way. Changing diapers was easy and he was a calm baby, rarely crying, big, blue eyes steadily taking everything in.
A few hours after he was born, we buckled his seat into the car to head home. And that, friends, is the moment the weight settled. All of a sudden, my bliss turned to mild panic as the midwives smiled and waved goodbye. My husband turned to smile back at the two of us from the front seat, and I said, "They're really letting us leave here?! Don't they know WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE'RE DOING?"
We made it home and through the first day and the second and the long nights and croup and the first fever and rice cereal and hundreds of pictures and a million kisses. We figured it out together, he and I.
The weight of a child, though, it never really goes away.