It was late in September of 2004. The sun-warmed pebbles of my driveway bruised the soles of my feet as I leaned over my growing bump to hug my friend and offer to help with her bags. She declined, unceremoniously dumping them on the ground, touching my tummy, and letting out a squeal of delight at a corresponding, well-aimed kick at her hand. I was recently 30, and six months pregnant with my eldest. Working as Head of English at Caloundra Christian College left little time to think about pregnancy, let alone the needs of a nursery and a newborn, so Katrina, a girl I knew from our dance ministry team in Nambour, had volunteered to throw me a baby shower at my place. She had arrived early to set up, organise the games, prizes and refreshments.
Baby showers were all new to me. Ever since I could remember, I’d NEVER been one to understand young children. Especially babies. They freaked me out a little. Both my parents had left their entire families in their home countries, so I had zero experience with younger cousins (well, ANY cousins, really!) or friends with younger siblings, and had majored and taught in only secondary schools. “Give me a child after they’re toilet trained and can hold a conversation!” I would always say…
So, there I was. Six months pregnant, and at a baby shower for the very first time. And it was mine! I was interested to see how the day would unfold, and observe the reactions of the others, so I could gauge how I was expected to act. I had NEVER felt ‘clucky’ in my entire life – nor felt anything even remotely resembling maternal instinct. I had been focussed on my career, my relationship with my husband of almost 9 years, and paying off vehicles, paying rent, and then achieving the exalted rank of being a mortgage owner for the past few months.
I turned my thoughts back to Katrina as I had vaguely been aware of her handing something towards me. I expected it to be a bag of Baby Shower items, but noticed with a degree of surprise that it was a present. “I wanted to give this to you before everything started. I saw it yesterday and just loved it… I hope you do too!” Smiling, I thanked her and started to turn around and head up to the house when she stopped me. “No! Do you think that maybe you could open it now?”
“Oh! Okay… sure,” I replied, thinking how nice it was to be given ‘baby things’, as (my pragmatic mind chimed in) it would mean less for me to purchase prior to the mid-January due date.
I carefully opened the wrapping paper, remarking on how I’d made another payment on the cot I’d laybyed at BabyCo, and pulled out the baby outfit. It was a size 000 short-sleeved bodysuit. The top half showed a white background, above horizontal stripes in red, yellow and blue all the way down to its press-studded crotch. But it was the picture on the white background however, that grabbed my attention. It was of a baby tiger, and the accompanying words read “cute little tiger… roar roar roar”.
My reaction was instantaneous. I could SEE a baby wearing this bodysuit. MY baby, wearing this bodysuit. Maybe even pretending to BE a cute baby tiger, and roaring for attention. The emotions that flooded my body were absolutely indescribable. All of a sudden, I had finally ‘GOT’ it! It had taken until I was gone 30, but I finally understood exactly what people were talking about when they said that they ‘were clucky’! I had a sudden, desperate urge to HOLD my unborn baby in my arms. To know what it felt like to be a Mum. My eyes teared up, and I have no idea how long I stood there, or what I did next. And I didn’t care. All I knew was that I – me! Ceridwyn Bloxham! – was going to be a Mum. For REAL!
Looking back now, I realise that it had certainly taken a long time, but perhaps that maternal feeling was all the more sweet for being so timely. It certainly was a momentous event – number two in my list of six – and remembering that gush of emotions helps me through the more mundane parts of being mother to that same girl that kicked Katrina’s hand that day, ever so long ago now. The covering of what feels like a mountain of schoolbooks this morning, in preparation for next week’s entry into Grade One, when that same little girl will dress for the first time (of many, I’m sure!) in her ‘big girl’s formal uniform’, ironed by me that morning in preparation for the day… yes, remembering that Baby Shower morning certainly gives me that extra spur I need at times!
Anyway… enough waffling. I’d love to hear when YOU first felt that intense emotional whirlpool. Or are you like I was, unacquainted with ‘being clucky’?
Still an’ all… until tomorrow, dear readers, when number three sees me again in a church setting…