Ava loves pulling herself up on the baby safety gate at the kitchen door. The dogs usually get stuck in the kitchen during the day, and there’s nothing more fun for Ava than crawling at full tilt down the passage from her bedroom, pulling herself up on the gate at the kitchen door, and sticking her hands through the bars for the dogs to lick. When she gets bored, she lowers herself down to her bum and sets off on a crawl to her next adventure.
As you can see from this picture, Ava really needs a haircut – she pulls clips out of her hair, so they don’t stay in very long, and her long wispy curls waft down into her eyes where they just sit and irritate me. Dylan won’t let me even think about cutting her locks, though.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about the sacrifices we make when we have babies. I read a post about giving up your former life and your old self “dying” when you become a mother (you can read it here if you like) – I’m not sure I felt that way exactly, but I’ve definitely had moments this year when I missed the life I used to have.
I’ve missed going out to dinner on a whim, sleeping in after a late night, going to the movies and concerts and the theatre, going for sundowners, planning overseas holidays (long-haul flights now being a no-go for the foreseeable future), and the wide open future that lay ahead of me before I had a baby.
And of course, financially, there have been sacrifices. Although I haven’t lost any income as such because I still work, when it comes to my career, I probably won’t push myself for a promotion that will put me in a more demanding position where I have to spend less time at home – because I couldn’t bear more time away from Ava. We have a nanny we care about dearly, and who adores Ava, and, to keep her and reward her for all her excellent work, we pay her a decent salary and pay her daughter’s school fees – so, even though I’m still at work, our expenses have increased rather a lot.
Emotionally, I’ve sacrificed my freedom. Having a person you love more than any other thing or person ever puts you in a very risky position – I wouldn’t be able to go on with my life if anything happened to Ava. Remarkably, since I fell in love with Ava, I can imagine picking myself up after losing any other person in my life – even Dylan (although OF COURSE that would be completely and unimaginably awful). It’s a powerful and humbling and terrifying thing – loving someone so helplessly, especially someone who is totally oblivious of your love and who isn’t even capable of loving anyone, never mind you, yet.
And yet. Even with the monetary and emotional and social sacrifices I’ve made since April 4 last year, I wouldn’t go back to my life without Ava. Because life with her is a million times more rewarding and fun and heart-explodingly happy than the 27 years I lived without her.
I’m not sure these feelings seem like a suitable pay-off for the sacrifices I’ve made, but I don’t know how to explain it. That’s the thing about love, I suppose – it’s not about balancing a ledger.