The Home Stretch: A Meditation on Youth
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The Home Stretch: A Meditation on Youth

As I write this, I’m two weeks away from my due date of July 3rd. Little ZomBaby has a makeshift nursery set up in our bedroom, complete with comfy seating for me and ample snuggle space with his daddy. I’ve watched my life transform from video games and gadgetry to Bumbos and baby clothes. Nothing’s been replaced. The additions have been comfortable (so far).

My nights are getting shorter; the mornings are early and sleep doesn’t come easily to a woman with swollen feet and aching muscles. When I was younger, my muscles ached from organized sports. I’m closing in on twenty-five and the muscle pain is from being a little top heavy.

Behind me, there was a lot of broken — broken dreams, broken hearts, broken promises. Beckoning to me, there is a world of promise — promises of love, fulfillment, and success.

Mike and I had a deep discussion last night about youth and what it meant to each of us growing up. Mike has always had this incredible youthfulness that he wears as a badge of honour. He’s responsible and mature where it counts (our finances, etc.) but is playful and whimsical the rest of the time. It was one of the things that really drew me to him six years ago. Until we met, I was very serious. Playful at times, but usually very serious.

I worked hard. I rarely enjoyed my life. It was one big drama after another with me, which may or may not have been related to my eighteen-year-old disposition.

I had to grow up fast. My mama — this incredible woman with an incredibly warm heart — has been chronically ill for the entirety of my life; my family needed me to step up, even if no one asked. I wanted to ease the burden on my parents as best as I could. I made breakfast for my brother when we were small. I got my first job babysitting at eleven so that if I wanted to get something special, I wouldn’t have to ask my parents for it; it was important that the money went to medication, groceries, and my brother. My self sufficiency and fierce independence was the product of that “grow up fast” mentality.

So when Mike and I had our discussion about youth, I realized that I had spent most of my life avoiding youth. Avoiding playful and wonder and whimsy, just so I could make ends meet or so I could ease the burdens of family (even friends).

I wept. I hadn’t realized it before… but I was starting to feel the bowers of my life closing in.

What if this youthfulness was lost to me entirely?

Mike disagreed.

We would reimagine youthfulness and experience it through the eyes of our child. As he grew and wondered and played, we would grow with him. We play and see the world through his young eyes.

So while we’re on the home stretch — the final weeks of my pregnancy — I’m finding myself more and more at peace with motherhood. With parenthood. With childhood.

I’m grateful, as always, for this moment. These handful of moments, really.

Image is my own.

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