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It’s 4:30 a.m.

I’ve been up since 3:30. Early rising is typical, but this early is way too early. I had a dream that my son died. And it wasn’t a gnashing of teeth, grief kind of dream  – it was a totally lost, shocked and wandering in the bardo kind of dream. He’d been alive and then, someone informed me that he was dead. There was no explaination. There were no words. I was just wandering in a ghost land, in shock, as if all the blood, all the life had been drained out.

That’s when I woke. I had to pee (mother’s to be – your peeing will never be the same again – read below for more on this ). I lay in bed and felt my tender heart and thanked the beings on high (whomever you are and in whatever guise, thanks), for the fact that my son is still alive and will be drinking cocoa out of his special cup this holiday.

Which brought me to the next question: do I wear the red tutu and silver boots with hat or no? I think yes. I’m all for ritual and dressing is as part of ritual as is food and having candles lit and saying I love you over and again and meaning it.

Which brings me to what actually got me out of bed to write this post. THE MANUAL ON PARENTING – the one that I thought came with child, or should come with any and all children and which I was absolutely stunned not to get after having my first. I mean, I am a woman, yes, which means I have all the woman furniture. But I’d never had domestic fervor. I’d never babysat. Never sat with a baby. They were funny creatures, both of this world and not of this world.

When my husband and I had my first, I was desperate for guidance. And not just some trite, developmental scientist turned mommy helper’s book on how to raise children. Dr. Sears, you helped me get the dosage for Ibuprofen and assisted me in not freaking at fevers or projectile vomiting, and for that I am in prostration. But I wanted the mystical MANUAL, the one that would give the very low down on exactly how my life would change, what to do in case of blocked oxygen tubes (turn baby upside down? beat on it’s chest?), and how to manage the tsunamis of love that would beat my shore until it was raked clean. Oh, that, and when the swelling would go down, and would I ever really, really want to have that gritty, sweaty, urgent kind of sex again?

So, it’s 5 a.m. now, and I’m going to tell you that there is a MANUAL like that out there. It’s called the Hoo Rah Guidebook for Parents Living on Earth. It’s a doozie. And here’s the story of how I found it:

I was walking in a glen. Maybe a glade. Yes, a glade. It was early winter. I was alone. Dappled light on the trees. No sound but wind. No humans, but me. There may have been dew. Yes, there was dew, all around, giving that shimmery, fairlyland look to everything. Suddenly, an oversized rabbit ran past me, stopped, turned around, twitched it’s little nose and then disappeared down a hole at the base of a tree in front of me. There was some kind of Alice in Wonderland meets Joseph Smith thing going on. I was sure of it. I felt electric. Kneeling at the base of the tree, I found no sign of the rabbit. What I did find was a moss-encrusted, old, old, old book with fraying pages and barely discernible script. On the first page was the title, nothing more. The Hoo Rah Guidebook for Parents Living on Earth. I’d been gifted. No really, I’d been gifted big because just two months later, I’d be pregnant again and my life would explode.

I’m writing all of this, because there are expectant mamas out there. Some of you are ready. Or, you think you’re ready. But, I’ve found you can only be as ready as you are to jump off a 40 foot cliff into a hopefully, deep pool of water. You look down. You gather your senses. You jump.

For the expectant mamas, a holiday gift from the Hoo Rah. And, just so you know, it’s written in a kind of Tao Te Ching, short, get-down-to-it style. No cutsie stuff.

The first two entries:

1.  You do not have control. You think you know this, but you don’t. Children are here to teach you that in this journey you are both the passenger and you are the ride. Things will happen that will blindside you. Take comfort in this. It will remind you that you are mortal, that we are all mortal. With this knowledge weaving it’s light and pain through your chest, you will be able to live a life close to the heart instead of one that is merely comfortable.

2. Your body will never be the same again. Celebrate this. Have humor. You have no choice in the matter and you are strong enough to take it. You may never be able to hold your pee again. Things could be worse.