It’s funny how a random moment, the portrait of something we are completely unconnected to, can evoke such strong emotions. Sometimes it’s a song, or a scent that brings back a memory or causes an intense yearning. For me, this past weekend, it was something simple and completely unexpected. More than 24 hours later, it still sits with me, playing with my emotions.

We were meeting my in-laws at Ikea, sitting near the entrance waiting for them to arrive. The kids were roaming around the vignette’s touching things, exploring, having fun. We were mostly trying to keep them from breaking anything. I was sitting on a couch, watching the droves of people come in.

Then she went by. I didn’t know her at all. We didn’t even make eye contact. She was pregnant, perhaps six or seven months along. She walked by with an older woman, who I thought must be her mother. She walked the walk of a woman who had all the time in the world. She looked relaxed and content. There was obviously no way for me to know, but something about her said this was her first pregnancy.

In that moment, all of my assumptions about her caused me to feel intensely wistful. There she was, the promise of her new life as a mother just waiting for her. She was blossoming in the beauty that is the unknowing, full of anticipation and excitement I’m sure for all the changes to come.

My wistfulness led me to thinking and remembering. And I felt a little sad. Sad that the first anticipation of new motherhood was over for me forever. But also, I’ll be honest, because in those moments, those nine months of my first pregnancy, I had no idea how much my life would change. If I had, I would have lived them a little differently.

I wondered if she was enjoying the last months of living a life wrapped up in only herself? Were she and her partner getting out, enjoying relaxing, quiet dinners? Was she reading lots of books, sitting on the couch or cuddled in a favourite chair for hours? Was she shopping endlessly for cute outfits? Was she taking long, hot showers without listening for crying or fighting? Was she coming home at night and forgetting about dinner and just doing whatever she pleased? Were her mornings spent lounging for hours in bed, perhaps talking endlessly, uninterrupted with her partner? Did she realize that all these things would be so much less available to her in just a short time?

A fleeting moment, an image and an assumption without any real connection, and I’m left sifting through such strong emotions.

Image: ‘Reflecting‘ via a Creative Commons license.


36 thoughts on “Wistful

  1. Corinne says:

    It never fails to amaze me how easily those emotions are evoked with just a glance of a pregnant belly… it always hits me like a ton of bricks! Even this lovely post did it πŸ™‚ its almost like looking back on childhood innocence, because like you said, before the baby comes you have no idea about so much.

  2. Nicki says:

    This writing is so beautiful – just like the pregnant woman. It is so wonderful you could put your thoughts out here.

  3. Kate says:

    Beautiful. And so true. I tell first time moms to enjoy movies out, to enjoy, to sleep. I was told the same, but I couldn't know what was coming, and neither can they. I do miss time being my own. I know it will be again. I know I will get showers without worry again. I know I will stroll through a store again without holding a little hand and keeping an eye out for breakables. This time is so exhausting, so full. But it won't last. I am wistful for both my pre child life and for these moments of grand adventure that are flying past.

  4. hlc says:

    It is interesting the cycles we go through as parents. My boys are 6 and 8 now and becoming more independent, so I am finding myself with much more free time than I had a year or more ago. It has been a little unsettling– the adjustment. And now we are planning on having another, so soon that will all change again. Great reminder to enjoy the moment.

  5. TKW says:

    I'll never forget the excitement of that first pregnancy. It really was a wonderful thing.

  6. Justine says:

    I am so ready for number two now so whenever I see a pregnant belly, it hits me with longing. Yet we have a "plan" that's tied to our goals for our family but the waiting is killing me. I want to feel life growing in me again, and share secrets with him/her in a world that we both share intimately. It's an incredible feeling, although you're right, the first pregnancy is markedly different from subsequent ones. The knowledge of what lies ahead is another reason we hesitate. We're finally loving this groove we're in and we're not sure we're ready to go back to the sleepless nights and unpredictability. Yet we also know they're worth the trouble – a thousand times over.

  7. Chantal says:

    I often feel that way when I see people out and about with no kids. I wonder if they have kids at home. Are they enjoying their lives. Not that I regret having kids, but they are all consuming and I am looking forward to 10 years down the road when I can do more things for myself. πŸ™‚

  8. Jill says:

    Christine, Thank you for writing this so beautifully and honestly. I think often we mothers are hesitant to say such things because we don't want it to sound like we liked life better without kids. And you and I both know, it's not that at all, we wouldn't trade them for anything. But, the luxury of time for self and spouse is something too little treasured until it is no longer a luxury.

  9. karengreeners says:

    I feel that way about smokers sometimes.*almost kidding*

  10. Laura says:

    I have had wistful moments like that recently but couldn't express my feelings as well as you just did. Beautifully written.

  11. Jamie says:

    What a lovely post! Mixed up in those pre-parenthood memories are the strangest frustrations of WHY didn't I do this or that…what was I so consumed with at the time that I didn't think I had time for x, y, or z? You know, back when you had all the time in the world and felt rushed and flustered anyway? πŸ™‚

  12. Denise says:

    Wow Christine. I adore this post and your fabulous words. Yes…the clarity of hindsight. And you capture those emotions perfectly…Thank you. xo

  13. becca says:

    I have these feelings every time I see a pregnant woman. I want to grab her and tell her All of the things you so beautifully wrote here. You just don't get it until you have had that first baby. How much life changes. How much, even though you wouldn't trade your life for the world, you yearn for some of the things you had (and took for granted) before your first baby is born.

  14. Wendy says:

    I totally understand what you're saying. For me, though, I feel much more strongly about moms who only have one child. I have 3 kids all under the age of 4. Bam, bam, bam. I had them way too quickly to savor the precious baby moments. I remember feeling so challenged and overwhelmed as a new mother. Now, the mom to 3, I look back and feel so silly. I wish I had appreciated those quiet moments home alone with my first baby. I wish I'd gone out and done more with her and understood how easy it really was to travel with just the one baby.Oh the mommy wisdom I would now love to share with every expectant mom in the world.

  15. rebecca @ altared spaces says:

    I know exactly what you mean. And, no, I didn't live those months wrapped up in ENJOYING. I don't actually think a person is capable. We don't know what we don't know until we know it. What parenthood has taught me is how valuable my time is…how cleaning the kitchen with 2 hands is a privilege. That exercise alone for 20 minutes is something to be anticipated with glee.These things come to us because they are first taken away. And love is replaced where the one handed dish-do now fills the bill. It is enough. I expand. I like the expansion. Then, in later years, when there is a lifting of responsibility…life feels light. I think this is why grandparents and children get along so famously. There is so little tension and so much ease.Great post. Sweet. Provocative. I liked the picture of you at Coffe with Julie.

  16. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    There's just something beautiful about a pregnant belly, isn't there?

  17. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    There's just something beautiful about a pregnant belly, isn't there?

  18. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    There's just something beautiful about a pregnant belly, isn't there?

  19. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    There's just something beautiful about a pregnant belly, isn't there?

  20. Kelly says:

    I am nostalgic for this feeling because I never had it. I stumbled into my first baby after only a few weeks of preparation. It was fast and furious and there was no partner to hash it all out with. Then I was so filled with worry and over-analytical adoptive parent guilt that I didn't really enjoy my only pregnancy. I am nostalgic for the happy-go-lucky, excited, and carefree pregnancy I should've had. All of this to say: I still understand, only for different reasons. And the wistfulness is palpable.

  21. C (Kid Things) says:

    I had multiple miscarriages before my first successful pregnancy, so unfortunately I didn't get to spend it very relaxed. I was too worried something would go wrong. Though I did love being pregnant. Pregnancy, I found, was incredibly freeing and I have to say, since I know I'm now done having babies, feeling those first kicks and watching my belly grow are already missed.

  22. Aging Mommy says:

    Oh what a beautifully written post. I too did not really enjoy the first few months of being pregnant with my daughter as after two miscarriages I kept expecting a third. But once we got to the 16 week stage and got the all clear from the perinatologist I just so enjoyed being pregnant. This past weekend at the water park we went to there were pregnant women everywhere (or so it seemed to me) and I still cannot look at a heavily pregnant woman without wistfully wishing it were me, to be so lucky as to go through that special time again and to have another baby. Sigh….

  23. Finola says:

    What you wrote is so true. There is no way to understand before you have your first child just how much everything will change. Forever. Sometimes I'm still reeling from it.

  24. Stacia says:

    A long hot shower, oh, how I would love one of those. With no fighting to referee. All of those questions you asked about that woman, I ask, too. Usually summed up with: Does she know how hard it will be??

  25. Eclipsed says:

    My best friend is pregnant and I look at her and remember how much easier life was then. How hopeful and full of excitement and wonder. There was also time, time to read, enjoy long romantic dinners, and time to spend with my friends and family. Also I was still just "me", sure I was someone's wife, sister, daughter, friend, co-worker, but none of those roles are as self-less and self-sacrificing as "mother". It's definitely a time I took for granted. I guess wisdom is the curse of the experienced.

  26. Sarah(casm) says:

    Oh, this makes me ache. I really want to have another and I am having trouble waiting (but we have our reasons). I did not enjoy being pregant, but I so long for the flutter of first movement. It is sad and wonderful that I'll never feel that for the first time again. Q is the only person who will ever give me that first flutter.*big happy (and heavy) sigh*

  27. This Heavenly Life says:

    Oh, those pregnant bellies πŸ™‚ So much emotion contained in one glance in their direction — we're suddenly puddles of memory or hope or anxiety. Lovely post!

  28. Rudri says:

    Well written post Christine. There is a certain nostalgia in being pregnant, knowing that you are taking care of a life that is growing inside of you. My husband says when the baby is inside of you – that will forever be the safest place for him or her. After she or he is born, there is so very little you can control.

  29. Jana @ Attitude Adjustment says:

    There is something magical about a pregnant belly. I often have to stop and gaze in wonderment. (But I don't miss it. I'm happy to have my body back!)

  30. Sarah says:

    Okay, so I may have drifted off to sleep thinking of big bellies and first babies after I read this two nights ago. I may have been sad for the pregnancy that is gone, the newness that is no longer, but happy for the pregnancy that I hope is to someday come again, even though I cannot fathom 9 more months of getting HUGE. This was so lovely, Christine. I feel like your writing is finding its home. Does that make sense? (And pretty soon it will have a new home of its own. Wink.)

  31. JackiYo says:

    Beautiful post, Christine. And I SO get that feeling. It's weird being on the other end of this. For my whole life being pregnant at some point on becoming a mom was ahead of me. And now? Very strange. It's behind me. It doesn't feel as if there are any big, amazing (and positive) life altering things to look forward to.

  32. Hyacynth says:

    For some reason, pregnant women always elicit the same exact feelings from me. I wonder if they are basking in this time of togetherness where her live is so interwoven with her baby that there is such little struggle in caring for the baby's needs. I wonder if she and her husband know to take every moment together and spend it well, wrapped up in ach other.I get you.

  33. biz319 says:

    Such beautiful writing! I knew from the get go that I was going to be a single mom. The father I dated for three years wasn't "ready" to be a Dad.I once worked with a man who was complaining how hard life was with kids, and I had to remind him that he had a wife and a nanny to help. Me? It was always my turn. My turn to feed her, my turn to bathe her, my turn to put her to bed.But it was the best time of my life! It goes by so fast – she starts college next month!

  34. evaevolving says:

    Isn't it amazing, what thoughts and emotions a stranger can trigger? I love people watching, observing the little things and wondering about their life. It's a sort of mirror to my own life.And isn't a trip to IKEA always a fun outing?!

  35. Jade @ Tasting Grace says:

    What a beautiful post! I found it by clicking through on Boy Crazy's site. Thank you for sharing.

  36. Elizabeth @claritychaos says:

    I have these wistful thoughts all the time – not just when I see pregnant women, but when I see anyone in a stage other than the one I'm in. Single childless people, new moms with one new baby, pregnant women, couples a decade older than me with kids off on their own…I think we can't grab those pregnant mamas and tell them to enjoy, to soak in this time. Because it means something different in hindsight than it does at the time, I think. Great post. I so get this.

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