Three years ago in June I left San Juan, Puerto Rico 5-months pregnant, terrified that every single tug and pain was a signal that something was wrong with the pregnancy and I just didn’t know it yet. I cried and said goodbye to the Isla del Encanto (island of enchantment- for me, it truly was.) I took pictures of every corner of the studio apartment that had been my home for almost a year. I cried and wondered why it felt like I’d never be back there, even though out loud I kept saying I’d return.
Three years ago in June, I moved to a two-bedroom in Massachusetts, where I spent most of every day alone, unpacking box after box and setting up everything and designing a nursery. I went to auctions and estate sales and children’s clothing stores and OB-GYN appointments. I walked on the treadmill and in the mall and I tried to stifle the voice inside that wanted to spiral into panic and doomsday predictions. I was impatient to meet my child, writing a lullaby, practicing raising and lowering the drop-side crib railing, feeling the mambo of baby movement that seemed to begin reassuringly around 11 p.m. every night. And, as always, I put on a smile and quieted my misgivings and told myself everything would be okay.
I was a hopeful, careful, hormone-full mom to be, worried about everything, wondering what would happen. I imagined family vacations and birthdays and laughter and hugs. I imagined the we of us three and a future made of dreams, three years ago, three years ago in June.
I never imagined raising my child alone. I never imagined nightly feedings and diaper changes and potty training and daily meals and swimming classes and museum visits and Gymboree and parks, beaches, playdates, parties, movies, vacations, and car rides as a we made of two.
So of course I never imagined getting on a NYC subway with a toddler, armed with only a diaper bag, screenshots of two alternatives for directions just in case, and a belly full of coffee, on our way to the Central Park Zoo.
But ten days ago in June, I did just that. I stepped out of my comfort zone and onto a train. I ignored the panicky urge to anti-bacterialize my child’s whole body or to keep her from touching anything. I squashed thoughts of kidnappers and crooks, or of getting lost and ending up in some sketchy part of the city. I took a deep breath and exhaled the feeling that the New York City that I loved was actually a giant chasm my child and I might fall into if I wasn’t careful!
I inhaled and exhaled and laughed with my little girl as we hurdled under the streets and she saw a brand new world. I forgot about my fears. I didn’t even miss the stroller I had decided to leave at home for the first time ever.
Because it was a day of firsts.
The first time my daughter rode the subway and the first time she saw a real polar bear. The first time I wondered if polar bears got angry if toddlers tried to “pound, pound, clap” them awake.
The first time my child was offered a New York City hot dog, and the first time I wondered if this child could possibly not be mine as she turned up her nose and gobbled up just the bun instead of the most likely not good for you, tastes so good deliciousness.
The first time we walked, walked, walked all day and she only asked me to carry her for a little while alongside Central Park. The first time I anticipated my own exhaustion but was happily surprised to be rather comfortable, my arms and back and legs ready for the job.
The first time I felt truly free and started planning all kinds of trips for this sun-loving, travel-happy, made-in Puerto Rico child of mine. The first time I could see those dreams coming true.
And then, three days ago in June, I did something I never, ever would have thought of three years ago in June.
Three days ago I stepped into a courtroom and finally, finally got to tell a judge that I want a divorce, more than a year after I filed for it. After all the ways my ex tried to delay the process, never replying to the courts and refusing to sign the divorce papers, sweet talking me desperately and out of the blue whenever he thought it might work, threatening he wouldn’t let me divorce him, after all that I finally got to put an end to that marriage.
I was nervous, I was certain. I was hopeful it would be over quick so I could get back to my life that had been stopping and starting and circling back and stuck in place like train ride in a nightmare.
Three years ago in June I was a mostly scared, sad little girl turning into a mom. Today I am unstuck, living my dreams, trying on adventures and finding my fit. I’m a single mom, stepping out of my comfort zone into a world of enchantment I can’t wait to explore with my little girl by my side. On this day in June, I’m moving forward, and it’s a thrilling ride! 😀