You could say that motherhood quite literally took me by surprise. One minute I was blissfully pregnant, just 24 weeks along and the next I was in an operating room giving birth to my baby. I don’t mean that metaphorically, as though it just felt like the time in trimesters passed by in a blink. I mean cut hip to hip and a one pound, eight ounce little girl whose odds of survival were fifty percent.
Exactly three years ago this week I left the hospital with my daughter for the very first time after spending almost six months in the NICU.
I have been constantly surprised ever since.
It’s like a perpetual state of emotion. I should see it coming, expect the antics, but I don’t. She has been a feisty little thing since the moment they lifted her from my womb, trying to breathe on her own with lungs that hadn’t even finished developing and kicking legs that were no bigger than my index finger.
Still, I walk around the corner and see the remnants of a toddler lunch tray and above it bright orange splashes on the wall and I am surprised. Elaborate sweet potato finger paintings made in just the few seconds during which I ducked into the bathroom to try and quickly brush my teeth. Did you know that when dry, mashed sweet potatoes function similarly to cement? I mean, I’m not sure if that is a documented fact or anything but my experience is that it is impossible to remove from any surface once hardened. (It literally chipped the paint off, y’all.)
And maple syrup! I find traces of it everywhere and she always smells faintly of maple syrup even when we have gone weeks without waffles or French toast. I bury my face in her hair as we rock and there it is, sweet and syrupy and mysteriously placed.
Or how I fully considered giving up the little luxury of my chai tea latte splurge on our weekly grocery shopping trip on account of how I ended up apologizing profusely to the stranger in the bathroom stall next to us after my daughter crawled underneath it. And then proceeded to ask her about her bathroom habits. I’m still attempting to decide if my need to forego public restrooms because of the mortification factor outweighs my need for a venti dose of liquid caffeine.
And then there was that time that she cheerfully told the cashier all about her ballet class and then also proceeded to tell them that her Mommy does not wear panties. That surprised me.
(I think it also surprised the poor teenage boy manning the register at Publix.)
(Also, I totally wear appropriate undergarments. What she was trying to convey was that I do not wear Buzz Lightyear undies like she does. Qualifying this statement only makes me sound a little ridiculous, a fact that I realized as I fumbled over said explanation to said cashier.)
So yeah, you could say this whole thing has been a surprise.
And some nights when the moon is bright and the house is still I swing my legs over the side of the bed and walk whisper soft down the hall, slipping into her room to watch the rise and fall of her chest and I am surprised again at the beauty of miracle of life.
“It is truth that climbs off the pages of Scripture and leaps alive into your arms when theoretical beliefs in a Creator give way to experiencing the act of creation. - Lisa-Jo Baker”
It is a collection of red letter words that lie sleeping in that toddler bed, the knowledge that I would lay down my life for that love.
And it is a beautiful, magnificent, maple-syrup scented surprise.
I’m sharing my thoughts on being #surprisedbymotherhood in celebration of Lisa-Jo Baker’s newly released book called (wait for it) Surprised By Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being A Mom. You can find it here, learn more about it here, and use the hashtag #surprisedbymotherhood on twitter and instagram to share your own surprising moments. I would personally like to invite you to share some stories that make my undergarment story pale in comparison, pleaseandthankyou.