A large part of my journey toward parenthood over the last year has had very little to do with what people usually think of as preparing for a baby. I didn’t paint a nursery, or buy a bunch of cute clothes, or read a lot of parenting philosophy books. But I have started, with greater and lesser success, to try to be more mindful of self care and doing things that I’ve put off. I went back on antidepressant medication for the first time since high school. I got my wisdom teeth pulled and my cavities filled. I changed my migraine medication to one that hopefully won’t leave me hung over for a day and a half. I stepped back from community obligations that were draining me. Friends who wrote one of my letters of reference made me promise to start having a date night once a week, even if it’s just a date with myself, to get in the habit of having adult time before I become a parent, and they’re right. Reestablishing and strengthening the friendships that sustain me, as well as the solitary pursuits I enjoy and find I need, will make me a better parent, because all of these will keep me balanced (or, at least, more balanced than I can otherwise become). I’m a child-centric person; it’s why I’ve wanted to be a parent for so long, why I chose my profession, why I get along with kids on an easy level. It would be easy to lose myself in parenting, and that’s not the kind of parent, or the kind of person, I ultimately want to be.
You may notice things that are missing from my self-care list above, like routinizing exercise and cleaning. I’m working on them, but they haven’t gotten from the chewing-them-over-in-the-brain stage to the actualization stage. Some things are harder than others.