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Expecting the unexpected

My ‘mama clock’ is ticking, and I figure now is as good a time as any to say my temporary goodbyes.

With Simon (the name my husband and I have chosen for our firstborn-to-be) arriving as soon as next week (but who can ever really predict these things?), I’ll soon be off on a 12-week vacation from my duties as editor of this newspaper.

This so-called ‘vacation,’ of course, won’t be what one typically thinks of when using that word. I won’t be enjoying any lazy days on the beach, sipping daiquiris and working on my suntan (or, as is more likely in my case, my sunburn). I won’t be eating fancy dinners out or relishing afternoon sleep-ins.

No, I expect it’ll be quite different from that.

I expect to get very little sleep and eat whatever I have in the fridge that doesn’t take longer than 5 minutes to cook. I expect to spend some serious time indoors – it’ll be a miracle if I even leave the house for the first few weeks. I expect to get frustrated at how to operate all these new baby gadgets in my life (how does this swing go from glide to rock, and how many dang straps are on this baby carrier anyway??). I expect constant feedings, and diaper changes, and crying (the baby’s, not mine, though that’s entirely possible, too).

I expect it to be a vacation from my former self, the non-mom. A permanent vacation. And these first 12 weeks will be like an initiation into this new, neverending chapter of life.

That said, most of all, I have no idea what to expect – except the unexpected.

Sure, I’ve read a dozen books and scoured the internet for pregnancy and parenting information since learning we were expecting. Yes, I’ve talked to other moms and gotten lots of advice (whether I wanted it or not) on everything from breast pumps to binkies. I’ve had long talks with my mom about childbirth and parenting, and discussions with my doctor. I went to a birthing class.

But I still have no idea what to expect. So many things can happen, and every baby, every family situation, every day, is different.

Somehow, though, I feel ready. Whatever unexpected things this baby brings to my life, I say, “Bring it on.”

I know parenthood won’t be all about crying and diapering and sleepless nights. There’ll also be cuddling, and swaddling, and cooing and gurgling, and so, so much joy and love. First smiles, first laughs, first steps... I look forward to all that and more.

So, if you notice that my name’s suddenly not in the paper one of these weeks, you’ll know why. It’ll be because I’m at home, taking a ‘vacation.’

I’ll be reading my new baby’s expressions with the same kind of scrutiny and intensity that I read the paper with before it goes to print, trying to catch every error.

I’ll be learning to read my baby’s cries in the same way I’ve learned to read people’s emotions as I interview them for stories, feeling tears in my own eyes when they cry, and feeling happy for them when they’re happy.

I’ll be staying alert to my baby’s needs and wants, just as I try to stay alert to the needs and wants of our readers, keeping tabs on what’s happening in the community so we don’t miss something important here at the paper.

While it won’t be easy for me to leave a job I love behind, even temporarily, I’m confident that the Focus will be in good hands during my absence. Elizabeth Huwe, the lead writer here, will act as editor while I’m away. I know she’ll do an excellent job of ensuring that all our local events and important stories are covered, in fair and fun ways. We’ll have extra freelance writers on hand to help cover those events and stories. And, every member of our great team here has offered to pitch in and help out however they can.

I expect things at the paper will be just fine without me. Because everyone here has something in common: We all know to expect the unexpected, and when something unexpected happens, we say, “Bring it on.”

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune as a reporter and magazine editor in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in Detroit Lakes with her husband, Dan, their 3-year-old son and baby daughter, and their yellow Lab.

(218) 844-1452