So THIS is nesting: in the past few days, I have been irresistibly compelled to clean out my fridge, freezer, pantry, desk, docket, closet, old handbags, car trunk and to-do list. Various home furnishings are hitting Craigslist, and then the road, in that order. I’ve upgraded Moxie’s litter box to a fancy new model designed to minimize the everpresent scatter of kitty litter on our bathroom floor. The bathroom itself is staring down the barrel of a remodel — something I’ve wanted to do since I bought the place in 2007, but which is finally happening NOW.
I guess that’s the real thrust of nesting: the sense that this stuff has to happen NOW, because if it doesn’t, it may never.
Coincidentally, this is also the reason why I’m singing three symphonies in the next four weeks.
You should come: we’re doing the Beethoven 9th with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center next week, and then Mahler in October with the Mariinsky Orchestra: the 8th (“Symphony of a Thousand”) at the Kennedy Center, then the 2nd (“Resurrection”) and the 8th again at Carnegie Hall.
Right, did I mention? CARNEGIE HALL.
It is glorious and absurd and epic and ridiculous, the thought of making my Carnegie Hall debut — a dusty old adolescent fantasy — at eight and a half months pregnant. But this was my chance, the first time I’d ever been invited to sing there. Yes, the timing was tight; out-of-town travel is counterindicated that late in pregnancy; and the Symphony of a Thousand is an exercise in strength and endurance even for seasoned professional singers with lungs uncrowded by a thirty-five-week-old fetus. It would be so much simpler to give this a pass, to spend the time resting up and preparing to give birth. But who knew when, if ever, such an opportunity would come along again? If it didn’t happen now, it might never.
I’ve heard two things about life after childlessness. Once you have a baby, one theory goes, your life will never be the same; your focus will shift to your children and never wholly leave them; you’ll no longer have the time for the multiple jobs and hobbies and commitments that populated your calendar before the baby was born. Or, says another theory, the displacement is merely temporary at best: you can outsource, and have the partner/nanny/sitter/village handle the kinder while you get back to the business of your life. Or you can wait until your offspring attain some degree of independence and then, circumstances permitting, go back and pick up where you left off.
Since & and I both intend to resume our day jobs after Mayhem arrives, some level of outsourcing will be inevitable. We’re OK with that. We’ll do what’s necessary and be thankful that we both work for the federal government, which is blessedly deficient in the sort of life-eating workdrama that can be such a problem in private-sector employment. (Especially when you’re an attorney. My job is pretty damn demanding as far as government gigs go, but it’s practically a vacation compared to what my friends at law firms suffer as a matter of course.)
But it’s the other theory that I find more compelling. Everyone seems to agree that, at the moment you first behold your offspring ex utero, you undergo an instant, spontaneous psychological rewiring. Suddenly this tiny wet squalling person is THE most important thing IN THE WORLD to you, forget federal court or Carnegie Hall or anything else that you thought was a big deal the day before. As I see it, this is all the more reason to cram in every last amazing thing you’ve dreamed of doing, no matter how taxing or ill-timed, before your universe inverts and the window of opportunity closes. This may be the last crazygreat thing I do.
Not that that’s a bad thing. As much as I take seriously the prediction that Nothing Will Ever Be The Same after we have a baby, I’m equally inclined to accept the corollary, which is that That’s How It’s Supposed To Work and that Nobody Ever Regrets It. One perk of starting your family at midlife is that you’ve most likely done your homework, deliberately opted for the big life-change, and lived well and long enough already that you’re prepared for when the spotlight shifts away from you and won’t regret that, either. I’d like to believe that that’s where we are right now.
Which still leaves us two months to rock the world ourselves, before Mayhem rocks ours.