Nine months ago, on an average Thursday afternoon, I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor. Alone. Holding a stick. And on the stick were two simple, innocent, pink lines.
Quite a few months later, Joel asked me what my very first thought was when I saw those two lines, and to be completely, frankly honest, I don’t actually think I had any thoughts.
For quite some time.
My brain just stopped. Shut down. And I sat there for an embarrassingly long time, just looking back and forth between the stick and the white piece of paper I was holding in my left hand.
This white piece of paper had little black words which read Instructions of Use. The Instructions of Use told me that if there were two pink lines, then there was a life inside me and it would turn into a full-grown human being with a life of its own, and that I would be its mama and that I would need to join my life with Joel’s, and that I would need to guide this life with responsibility and commitment and adult-ness, and that I would need to love and love and give and give constantly, continually, forever, and that quite simply, I would have to change my life so very profoundly in order to grow the two pink lines up.
It turns out that it wasn’t the average Thursday I expected to encounter.
The Balinese have a term for people like Joel and I. They call us MBA’d.
Married By Accident.
And although Joel and I did not get married, we joined all our money and assets and set up a family trust fund the other day which, let’s be honest, is pretty much the same.
After Bathroom Thursday, Joel and I experienced the following few weeks as a blur and a haze. I am not the kind of person who finds commitment altogether appealing or comforting, but I am also not the kind of person who shuts down in the face of pressure. In fact, I turn obsessively in the other direction. I spill right open. I ask everyone from the mailman to the counsellor for advice. I shamelessly cry tell me what to do, and counsellors, psychologists, friends, family….we clung to them all in a desperate attempt to make sense of our situation and what the hell we were going to do. We were, quite simply, desperate. When Joel was okay, I was not. When I was okay, Joel was not.
I even saw a psychic.
Me: Enters psychic’s room and sits down.
Psychic: Smiles warmly, knowingly.
Me: Smiles back politely. Thinks: What can she see? What can she tell? Oh god, these people FREAK me out. Do not say anything. Stay cool. Stay cool.
Psychic: Takes my hand, closes her eyes.
Me: Silent, and more than a little uncomfortable.
Psychic: More hand holding, more closing of the eyes.
Me: Remembers that I never know what to do in these situations. Looks around the room, nervously. Spots some great room furnishings. Thinks, gee, I love what she’s done with the design in here. Wonders, is it appropriate if I ask her where she got that table from? Decides, it’s probably an antique. It looks like an antique. It’s probably a one-off and I won’t be able to buy one. Thinks, I really ought to shop in more antique stores, I wonder where some good ones are? Realises, for the love of God, Rachel, pay attention, you are in a Serious Situation.
Psychic: Looks up. Smiles. Speaks. Well, you are highly fertile.
Me: Silent. Staring.
Psychic: There are babies floating around you everywhere.
Me: Are you joking?
Psychic: I’m afraid not. In fact, you will be very fertile until well into your 40’s, so just watch that.
Me: Tugs at my dress. Says, “Mm-hmm..Will do.”
During the length of the session I had with her, I felt a settling I had not anticipated. I felt a decision forming. A confidence I had not yet experienced coated the walls of my stomach and soothed the anxiety I had felt for weeks. My mind was being made, in a strangely absolute way, and somehow, I was okay again. I went back to Joel after that session, and we perched ourselves on the edge of the bed. It was an ordinary Wednesday afternoon, but for me, it was the most defining moment of my life. Joel looked at me and I knew we were about to have a moment. I wanted to talk first, but I knew he did as well, so I remained quiet and braced myself for whatever was about to come out of his mouth. He said, simply, “Rachel, will you have a baby with me?”
The question sprouted tears in my eyes and as I answered, I hoped he wouldn’t notice the shakiness of my voice.
I hoped he wouldn’t notice how much I simultaneously loved and feared his proposal.
Most of all though, I hoped desperately, with all my heart, that he would never regret asking me that question. That he chose this life with me, not just went along with it because it was the right thing to do. And that I would never regret my answer; that I chose this life with him, not just went along with it because it was the right thing to do.
I looked at him and whispered, “Yes, I will.”
Fast forward nine months and this is what I have to say.
As my body was perched on the edge of the bed and my voice was shaking and my mind was imploding there on the day of the decision, I didn’t know.
I didn’t know that Joel would spend the next nine months so enthusiastically joining our lives together.
I didn’t know I would find him sitting alone, making up songs on his ukulele, and singing so heartbreakingly beautifully to a baby who wasn’t born yet.
I didn’t know about the Love that would happen.
I didn’t know that the thought of this baby would bring so much joy and goodness to everyone in our lives….that it was theirs just as much as ours…that they would be counting down the days right beside us, with just as much excitement as we would be.
I didn’t know that the minute you give up your hold on what you think Life should be, the minute you let go of the control in which you cling to for safety, is also the exact minute that Life explodes in its fullness of what it can offer you. It’s the minute you find yourself whispering thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for scaring me and stretching me. Thank you for making me give up once and for all the silly, ridiculous, disillusioned idea that we really have any Control, that the plans we make will ever stick, or even be right for us.
Because the truth is that we can only plan for so much. It’s the events in life that hit us like a truck, that demand us to discover what we are made of, and that cause us to give up everything we cling to that are the most beautiful of all. They are the life-changing events which strip us down to our hearts and end up shaping our lives into stories more precious that we could have ever written on our own.
So God, or Angels, or Life, or whatever it is you are, may you continue to give me rain when I expect sunshine. May you continue to give me trouble when I expect lunch. A friend when I expect judgement. A kiss when I expect a fight. A baby when I expect to go to the gym. Please never stop turning me sideways and upside down and inside out.
Married By Accident.
Made By Arrangement.
Dear Joel and Baby, you are the the best decision I never really made.
Just wanted you to know.