The clutter had been bothering me for weeks. Months, even. If you want to get technical about it, it had actually been bothering me since the week we moved into our house almost three years ago. That week where I unpacked boxes, putting away stuff that we use and wear all the time in its proper place, and tossing everything else into empty closets and drawers in spare rooms that I quickly designated as "someday."
Most of the time I didn't think about closets and drawers filled with clothes that neither of us wore or boxes I never quite figured out what to do with but when I did my fingers got itchy and I started thinking about all the things I could do with the space but I could never figure out where to start so I ended up starting nowhere and doing something else instead, like binge watching all five seasons of Friday Night Lights, or re-reading my favorite romance novel for the tenth time.
One weekend this past October I dug in and transformed the useless room downstairs into a home office, but that was about as far as I got, until last weekend.
I have been spending some time over the past couple of weeks making lists of all of the things that we'll need for the baby - things like clothes and diapers and wipes and bottles and receiving blankets and a million other things that I probably haven't thought of yet.
Thinking about all the new stuff that we have to bring into the house made me anxious enough to remember all the stuff that is currently in the house that we don't need or use, and was enough to send me diving into those long-forgotten closets and drawers, making frantic piles of clothes to give and throw away, and using enough Stop and Shop brand heavy duty trash bags to make me wish I owned stock in the company.
On Sunday I took thirty bags to Goodwill to donate, and came home to a house that was as clutter free and as organized as mine has ever been. I sat my pregnancy-afflicted aching back on the couch, determined to do as little as possible for the rest of the day, and it occurred to me that it was a good thing I got this all taken care of, because my due date was about three weeks away.
And how the hell did that happen?
Somewhere between doctor's appointments, and my disappearing feet, and my inability to bend over and the frenzy to get everything done at work before I go out on leave and the end of my morning commute, April turned into June and then all of a sudden June is half over and the big event seems like it's minutes away.
And while practically, the end of the aforementioned back pain and inability to bend over or to sleep for more than an hour at a time or to turn over in bed without assistance makes me pretty happy, in actuality, the haste with which time is passing leaves me a little breathless. I feel unprepared. Like I am hurtling at full speed down a highway without directions and with no idea what awaits me at my destination or even, actually, what my destination is.
With three weeks to go I have this overwhelming urge to memorialize this slice of time. To somehow document the things that I am feeling and thinking in the short days before my world changes and cracks opens to welcome another human into it. Before everything is different. Before I become a mother.
But the truth is, I can't seem to grab on to any singular thought or feeling long enough to give it a name and put it into words. I suspect that one day, with the privilege of time and a little distance, I'll be able to look back on these weeks "before" with a little more clarity and some understanding, but today, it all seems to be packed tightly together and lodged somewhere deep inside of me, held down by the frenzy to prepare for the unknown and the stroller and carseat currently sitting in two massive boxes in my living room.
I also suspect that the way I feel is blessedly normal, and aside from the quick and intense desires to clean out a closet or organize a drawer, I have been spending these last few weeks enjoying the summer and doing the things that I do best: reading my books, watching lots of TV, baking my way through Smitten Kitchen's archive of desserts, and eating the delicious results.
Because ultimately, though all this newness is big and intimidating and coming faster than I ever could have imagined it would, it is a brand new chapter that we wanted and hoped for and waited for for a long time. And even though we have no idea what we're in for or what we're doing, we are determined to get this right, this making of a family, to be good at it, to enjoy it, and to figure it out together as we go.
And it's a good thing.
Because ready or not, here it comes.