But on the inside, I felt like a fraud. I liked teaching, but it was a pretend career, something I was doing "for now"-- until I figured out what I really wanted to do. I loved being a wife and mom, but those felt like playing dress up too. I had so few positive role models for wife-dom and mother-dom. Most days I was winging it, and then falling into bed and angstily analyzing all of my actions and choices.
As my 29th birthday approached, I remember thinking: Yikes. I can't keep playing around. Time to get serious. Next year I WILL BE 30!!
But a funny thing happened the day I turned 30: I didn't think at all about turning 30.
I had too many other things on my mind.
My husband's company had recently transferred him to another state. I'd stayed behind for a few weeks with our three year old son, to sell our house and wrap up my teaching job. I also got called up for jury duty.
Oh, did I mention I was eight months pregnant?
We moved into our new house at the beginning of July and for the next few days I tore around like a manic unpacking (my husband teased me because I spent time arranging all of our books into the bookcase in alphabetical order. Just put them away, he said. To ME. A former bookstore employee. Ha ha)
The only room I didn't touch was the nursery. I shoved the unpacked boxes into that room and told myself I'd get to it later. The baby wasn't due until the end of the month.
The morning of the big Three-Oh, I slept. All of that racing around had finally caught up with me. I collapsed on the couch, waking only to pop another Scooby Doo video into the VCR for my three year old.
Lunch was fun. I spent it in line at the DMV getting my driver's license renewed. Weight? the clerk asked, and I patted my engorged stomach miserably. It's okay, she said, just write down what you think you'll weigh after.
I still love that woman.
And then it was back to the couch and Scooby Doo videos.
My husband brought home dinner and I ate like I hadn't eaten in years. Half of a pepperoni pizza. A liter of coke. A quarter of a carrot cake. And I don't even like carrot cake. I was diabetic during my pregnancy. I wasn't supposed to be eating this way. But, whatever.
I went into labor a few hours later.
I called the only person I knew in the new city to come stay with our three year old son (a decision that still apparently haunts the poor kid. 18 years later). My husband had to get directions to the hospital from the OBGYN. Before we left, he dug around in boxes to try to find the sweet little dress we'd planned to have our daughter wear.
All he could find was an old hand-me-down undershirt of our son's.
The anesthesiologist laughed and laughed when I told her what I'd last eaten. Half of a pizza? Well, it's my birthday, I said. And it hit me. Who cared how old I was? Who cared if I ate half of a pizza every once in a while or if my kid watched six hours of Scooby Doo videos or...um... if the books weren't arranged perfectly in the bookshelf.
This was one day in my one life.
Our baby girl was born the next day. She looked darling in her undershirt.