It’s Mandela Day here in South Africa, a day when we’re all encouraged to spend 67 minutes to help make South Africa and the world a better place. I will be striving to do that for the next 67 DAYS as a part of #CarseatFullstop, so while it would obviously be great to go volunteer my time somewhere, at least I sort of feel like I’m making a difference. So instead, for Mandela Day, I want to look at the 6 or 7 ways my life has changed since Harley came into this world.
- I value sleep a lot more. I used to think I loved sleep, but now I know it’s a precious and limited resource. Along those lines, I also value personal space and hygiene in a new way – I never thought of showering as a luxury, but it most certainly is. I love taking a long shower, being alone in my thoughts, and actually being clean for a while… at least Harley doesn’t puke on me as much as she did.
- Morbid conversations are a must – I’ve been forced to look at my plans in the event of my untimely demise and who I would want to raise Harley. Along those lines, Dean and I have also had to look at our wills and insurance policies to make sure there’s enough in case either (or both) of us pass away sooner rather than later.
- Similarly, I’ve reevaluated who I trust. How many friends or family members would I trust to look after Harley – for a day, an hour, or even just while I go for a pee? It’s not to say that those people are good or bad, but it’s just about who I can trust to treat my precious baby the way I want and need her to be treated.
- I’ve had to reevaluate where Dean and I plant ourselves. South Africa has been wonderful, and we’re really happy here, but is it the best place for Harley to grow up, go to school, pursue a future? Will she be better off if we move to the States? I can’t help but think of the way my family moved to Holland when I was in high school – at the face of it, we moved to The Hague after my father was given a choice between London or The Hague and our old dog wasn’t going to survive quarantine. We said we moved to Holland for her, but really she was just guiding us to where we belonged. Perhaps in the same way, Harley will help guide me and Dean to where we belong.
- Having a baby has made me much more sensitive. I was always sad when I heard about horrible things happening around the world, but it feels so much closer to home somehow. Any of those people could be my baby – they are all SOMEONE’S child, and someone is mourning their loss. It also means that I’m more susceptible to scammers, I think – I feel for the women at the traffic light, begging with a baby. Even if it is a scam, even if she is renting the baby (by the way, what kind of horrible situation must you be in to rent out your baby?!), it makes me so sad.
- Love. It’s so hard to describe the way my view of love has changed. Obviously, I love Harley deeply and immeasurably – I won’t even try to describe it. But what takes my breath away is how my love for Dean has changed. I hear him laughing in another room with “the little goblin” and my heart aches it is filled with so much love. Or when my mom was here and I heard her singing the same songs to Harley as we sang together when I was a kid…. It’s the kind of love that seems to fill your whole being. I am amazed at the power of marriage – Dean and I were already so strong in our relationship, but adding a kid served as a crazy kind of test that just proved how much we could rely on each other, plus make each other laugh.
- Finally, the reason that feels weird to add but is so very true – my amazing blog and community. Sharing what I’m going through, getting feedback from all of you, whether in comments here or on twitter or Facebook, it has changed so much for me. It has helped me evaluate what’s important in my life, helped to make me see where my focus is, and made me feel like a part of a very specific tribe. Thank you so much to each and every one of you who takes the time to read my words, to comment or even just to nod along. I really do appreciate it.