It’s when I’m in the shower that I really get to thinking. What is it about the shower? Is it the time alone, away from the tv and the voices of my husband and child? Is it the hot water cascading over my head? Is it the steam that makes every one of my pores open up?
Whatever it is, it gets me thinking.
I started thinking about myself. Why is it that I over-analyze everything I say and do? Why do I need such reassurance that I am a good person? Why can’t I just take it as a given, that I have all of these wonderful friends, not just from my discussion group, but all of you wonderful people who read me every single day (or as often as you can), that if I wasn’t a good person, y’all wouldn’t bother? I’m so afraid of turning into a certain member of my biological family, someone I find to be very self-oriented and self-serving, who would never do something for someone unless there was something in it for her. Someone who makes you feel guilty until you give in and do it because it’s just easier that way. Someone who has managed to drive me and lots of others away from her, making her quite the lonely person. I don’t want to be like her. I want people to think of me as someone who’s willing to help when necessary, simply because it’s needed. I want to be the person who can cheer others up when they’re feeling down, to be a shoulder when someone needs to cry. I have always wanted to be a giver, not a taker.
And then my thoughts turned even further inward. And I started thinking about this baby. I don’t normally think of the baby; it’s just something I remember every so often when I lay the wrong way or when I get a twinge of queasiness every so often. I’m so lucky that it’s just a twinge here and there; I’ve escaped the morning sickness both times now. But I began to wonder: is it a girl? Is it a boy? What will s/he look like? Grace is such a mini-me; will this baby favor Kurt? Will s/he be as good a baby as Gracie was, or am I in for long nights with a colicky baby? Will s/he be as well-behaved as Grace is as a toddler? Have I run out of parenting energy with raising Grace, and now I’ll just be a lazy parent with this one?
I started looking at my body in the shower, wondering if I’m showing already. I generally have a gut that resulted from my last pregnancy, and I haven’t been eating as healthy as I normally do. I’ve put on a good ten pounds since Kurt got home in June, and while I’m starting lighter than when I was pregnant with Grace, I am still technically obese. Being a chubby person my entire life, I never fretted about looking “gross” or “distended” when pregnant. I think I looked pretty darn cute! I want to show with this baby so badly; I want everyone to know I am pregnant. I see a bit of a baby bump, but it could just be my normal chubbiness making my belly protrude. I tried on my new maternity skirt last night, and while my bump is still too small to hold up the waistline, it really looked like I was pregnant. I can no longer wear my normal low-waisted jeans; they cut into me right below the belly button and make my chubbiness simply explode over the waistband. Instead I’m in high-waisted jeans, which are far more comfortable and make me feel more confident in my appearance.
And then I began to wonder, two kids. Wow. Can I really make it with two kids? This school of Grace’s, while very reasonably priced for a preschool, still isn’t cheap. I don’t work and Kurt doesn’t make all that much money. If the same thing happens with this baby, if I don’t end up with any milk, then I’ll be paying for formula as well. Getting both kids ready to take Grace to school. Having far less time to do what I want to do or need to do. Can it really all get done?
Then my thoughts slowly turned from myself to the rest of the world. Kurt had mentioned that another country had been formed, that a small nation had finally decided to break away from its parent country and attempt to go it on its own. And I could only just imagine the jubilation the people in Kosovo must feel to finally be separate from the nation that persecuted its main ethnic group for so long. I’m not so very old, but my father had us watching ABC Nightly News with Peter Jennings every night as kids, and I remember the atrocities that Milosevic perpetrated on the ethnic Albanians. My mother spoke of him so bitterly, as she does with any leader who engages in genocide. How exciting it must be for the ethnic Albanians to finally have their own country and their own religion, so different from the Serbians who were technically their masters.
The Kosovars have a long row to hoe before they are truly free, but I almost want to be there, to feel the spirit of independence swelling up in each and every member of that country, to know what it was like for America’s forefathers to break away from what they felt was an unfair government and to form a new nation out of thirteen colonies. It was because of them that my ancestors were able to escape the pogroms in Lithuania, the Russians coming after the Jews, chasing them out of the country simply because they had a different religion. Because they were different. Because they had a different language, they had different names, they had a different religion, they probably even looked different. They escaped to the US to give their descendants a better life, free from religious and ethnic persecution.
And here I am, a hundred years later, free from any kind of persecution, free from worry, free from concern over how to feed my family, how to clothe my children, how to send them to school to get an education. I am free. A wonderful gift from my ancestors, and one I hope the Kosovars will be able to pass along to their descendants.