I remember the day I took my newborn daughter home from the hospital. I was still exhausted from the labor (36 hours) and delivery, and missing an entire night’s sleep. My husband and I couldn’t figure out how to get our new infant car seat properly installed, and had to get a kindly nurse to strap it in safely for us. Then we drove the whole way home in very heavy traffic, and for some reason I was convinced we’d be in a car accident before we managed to get our new baby home. In short, I was a nervous wreck.
I felt completely unprepared for the demands of taking care of a newborn: the lack of sleep; my new, lactating body; the crying jags (usually hers, sometimes mine); and most of all the overwhelming sense of responsibility that came from knowing another human being was so completely dependent on me. The joy of having a baby came with many moments when I was quite sure I was in way, way over my head.
But I wasn’t. That newborn is now a 27-year old woman who is both happy and healthy. I managed to raise both her and her younger brother (also happy and healthy) with no major problems, no visits from the child welfare services and only a couple of trips to the emergency room. Although I didn’t always believe it at the time, I really was up for the challenge of raising children, and it turned out to be a pretty great experience. I found out that I was much stronger than I thought.
Which is something I need to remember now, on those days when I once again find myself thinking that my life is changing too fast, and sometimes doubting that I can handle it. The kids have moved out (taking a big chunk of my identity with them), my eyesight is going, my mother needs my help more each day, my job skills are useless in today’s market, and I am way behind the learning curve when it comes to keeping up with new technology. I could go on, but you get the picture.
But…. I can do this. My family is changing, my body is changing and the world around me is changing, and keeping up with it all is no picnic. Which, if you think about it, is very similar to the changes I faced when I first brought my daughter home all those years ago. It wasn’t easy, but I managed then, and I’ll manage now. Once again, I’ll find strength I didn’t know I had, and I’ll have many more good days than bad as I live through this particular phase of my life. And in the end, I’m pretty sure I’ll look back on these years and realize that, in its own way, being middle-aged isn’t so bad at all.