I have often wondered, when completely losing it with the kids, if I would be more patient and sympathetic had they been harder to get a hold of in the first place. Conceptually speaking, my husband and I could probably walk past each other in the hallway and I’d be pregnant. All but one of our five children took a grand total of one month to conceive. Number four appears to have hit the runway at T minus 5 days — I was already pregnant with her when we started “trying.” Even on the best of days, I tend to take them for granted. I tend to take life in general for granted. And I’m wondering, Do I really want to change that?
Recognizing life for what it is — a short-term engagement in frustration, joy, pain, boredom, love, exhilaration, fear ”“ is risky. The gloves come off, so to speak, and while the caresses are all the sweeter, the blows become brutal. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Reading through “When Life Begins,” I felt conception pain I had never before experienced, raw and concentrated. I felt confused and frustrated by questions I had never had to ask. But I found that I didn’t want to not feel it. By the end of the essay, I found myself completely exposed and vulnerable, but also emboldened, like I had crawled the Mojave. And if I could make it through the Mojave, maybe I can also make it through the afterschool frenzy today. And the broken bones tomorrow, and the destroyed heirlooms and snide remarks the next day. Once in a while, I’ll even head back out to the Mojave, and revisit Kerry Spencer’s essay, and remember why it is worth appreciating life.