I took ballet lessons as a child. My grandmother, a southern belle, believed that all young girls should study ballet, and so she paid for the lessons. Sometimes I stood doing barre work on a Saturday morning in a dingy, brick, one story building with bars over the windows, and I thought: there is nowhere else I would rather be than here, now.
Someday I will present at a professional conference in a fabulous black suit, and I will win the room with my well-researched, data supported--but bursting with awesome anecdotes as well, to woo the crowd--work in the field of education. I will probably be dyeing my hair brown at the time.
I went into early childhood education in a spirit of defiance. All my life I had been told that I was smart, that I should use my mind to succeed in the world of work. And so I flipped that life lesson the bird and chose a profession where I was called to use my heart. And then brain research exploded, and neuroscience was suddenly a stepping stone from compassion to competence for the children my heart told me I'd better not turn down any tools I could find at my disposal to help. And eventually I realized my heart and mind were intertwined in ways I never could have guessed when I was so busy pitting them against one another.
Someday I will claim my body back from time, overindulgence, and from babies. I will walk fast up steep hills with my heart up and my shoulders down, do squats and lunges, develop biceps and muscles in my back. I will run, or maybe I will swim. My hair will not really matter at this point. I will feel fantastic.
I went hiking with my aunts once when I was about seven. We hiked through the woods behind my grandmother's house. We were walking amongst tall trees, when suddenly we stepped out of the trees and into a sunlit field. Despite my Catholic school education, and church every Sunday, this was the closest thing I had ever felt to God. Our bodies were built for walking, for moving. The sun was made to spill over open spaces. And I was built to worship at the alter of long strides, deep breaths and stillness as far as the eye can see.
Someday I will carry another baby in my body, and then in my arms. I will marvel at what I and we and the universe can create. I will marvel, and I will be deeply grateful, and I will complain, like pregnant women do, about its miraculous invasion. My hair will stop shedding, thicken and become incredibly luxurious.
The morning I took my second positive pregnancy test, and was assured that I was carrying my first baby, I taught a water aerobics class at the YMCA. I was acutely aware that I was pregnant, and that no one but me knew it, for the entire hour. Showering in the locker room after class I mouthed: Thank You! Thank You! toward the sky.
Someday my son, his little body fighting the flu even while he learns to run, squealing, from his chasing Daddy, and to form new words daily with his mouth and his mind, will awaken, hungry, and seeking comfort from his Mama. I will hold him, and tousle his hair, hum as I rock him, and we will walk slowly and look out the windows at raindrops and fallen orange leaves and we will name things. I will feed him and comfort him. And I will marvel.
That day is today. And I am so glad to be here, on this rainy, autumn afternoon, stuck at home with a child recovering from minor illness, relieved of all obligations save seeking and providing comfort, settling here into this home, and this life. This day. Even if right now my hair is dirty, and pulled back into a ratty ponytail.