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Archimedes Inside and Out:
Chronicle of a Pregnancy

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Part 6: Kicks and Anxiety

Month 7

I suspect Archimedea hates Bryan Adams. She bops around a bit to Lenny Kravitz and Sheryl Crow and is quiet—I like to think contemplative—with Dvorak. Then she kicks like crazy when Bryan Adams comes on the radio.

At first it was very freakish to have this spawn kicking inside me, but I like it a lot more than I ever would have expected. While it's primitive—Archimedea not being versed in Morse code—kicking is her only form of communication. I wrack my brain trying to understand what she's saying. I do realize that I often project my own thoughts on her kicking—except I swear she does not like Bryan Adams.

Archimedea often kicks back when I tap on my now Homer Simpson-sized belly. Sometimes, she's quickly responsive, as though she's been waiting for my message. Other times, she ignores me; maybe she thinks I'm just messing with her? But if I'm worried because she hasn't kicked in awhile, Archimedea tends to be generously accommodating with reassuring kicks.

I'm most puzzled by her favorite pre-bedtime activity, where she taps into her Irish heritage and pretends she is a Riverdance cast member. Her enthusiasm has me convinced that she must be trying to say something super-important. Maybe "Get me on Letterman"? Or "Lay off the Ben & Jerry's!"

I know our communication is basic, one way, and at times random, but when it happens, I'm irrationally exuberant and my mind soars, thinking of her future. What will Archimedea be like when she graduates from spawn to person? Will she be feisty? Generous? Smart? Double-jointed? Will her first word be "mama" or "shit"? Will she make lots of friends? Crack open a six-pack of whoop ass on the bullies at school? Be embarrassed when I woo-hoo loudly at the announcement of her name at her college graduation?

These daydreams are a welcome distraction from the discomforts of being a baby pod. The physiological changes of the actual pregnancy consume a lot of my daily energy, but the daydreams make me reflect deeply about the future. All of a sudden I've had a total mental shift and found myself wanting to be a great mom to Archimedea above all else.

But what exactly makes a great mom? I've never really thought about that, except for those times during my adolescence when I swore I would never force my kid to do whatever Mom was making me do at the time.

I'm sure it varies by person, by kid, and especially by generation. I'm going through some of the basics of taking care of Archimedea's impending arrival, but am just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of everything else.

Right now I'm diligent about making sure Archimedea gets the right nutrition, exercise and sleep from me. I also make sure that no well-meaning but bacteria-laden strangers bump or touch my stomach, but that's also partly because I have major personal space issues.

The other big thing is stocking and preparing Archimedea's room—seems like a big mom task, at least according to the retail industry. Archimedea will probably not remember her ergonomically correct stroller, coordinated crib linens, or fragrance-free body lotion, even with prompting from copious amounts of digital memories recorded on the new, specially-for-Archimedea-documentation camcorder. Yet, even though I've gone through the agony of sorting through the confusion, in the long run I bet this massive preparation will hardly register on the scale of being a good mom.

I look at mom-daughter relationships among my friends and relatives and wish I could cherry-pick the best dimensions of each. I like how some of my friends tell their moms everything, and their moms instinctively know when to chit-chat jovially back or dispense sage advice. Other moms are fun to hang out with, but I admire the moms who are respected for all the stuff they've taught their kids by example—like optimism, resourcefulness, and kindness. I always thought I'd want to be the cool mom, but then I look at The Osbournes and definitely think I'd forsake cool for being a discipline mistress so my kids won't have pink hair and potty mouths.

There are so many dimensions to being a good mom, but it seems there are so many fine lines to walk. Laying down the law but being understanding. Being a buddy but providing mentorship. Having fun but working hard. The moms I admire most are able to balance these seeming dichotomies and have rich relationships with their kids.

Obviously, I want to protect, teach and influence Archimedea as to what's right, wrong, valuable, not—and have her do the same for me. But it's the big picture ideal relationship stuff that I think will be hard to cultivate, since there's no clear how-to guide. Trust. Respect. Confidence. Realization of potential. Friendship.

I don't know what path this relationship will take, but I have a clear mental image in my head of what I'd like it to be while Archimedea is growing up. I see us hugging and laughing through happy and sad tears as she hits the major milestones in her life. I also see her eagerly telling me what's up next.

Whatever happens, I definitely don't want it to be like a hokey Hallmark card advertisement type of relationship. The pre-Mother's Day advertisements bombarded the airwaves with the super closeup camera shot of some weepy chick/pro football player who chokes out, "Mom made me the person I am today." I hope Archimedea doesn't dish sentimental hoo-ha like that, because I know I'd barf.

Thinking through all this, I'm overwhelmed like an ant that's looking up from the base of Mt. Everest. I'm afraid I won't know what to do to create this future with Archimedea, to help her develop into a person she'll be proud of.

My sister has reassured me that I don't have to solve everything immediately. She's so right. All I can do is take each milestone as they come. And not be a freaky mom. As my friend Ron points out to me regularly, even crack ho's have babies, so I should be just fine. I guess that's pretty good perspective too.

It's a tremendous challenge, but with each little hello kick from Archimedea, I know I'm more excited to tackle this better than anything I've ever done. At least I know to stay away from Bryan Adams lullabies.

Copyright © 2002 Yumiko Shinoda.

Yumiko Shinoda lives in San Francisco, California.