I’ve never particularly liked the word “parenthood.” It conjures images of harried women in wrinkled clothes, scurrying around town in minivans that smell like fifteen varieties of feet. These women always seem to be just ahead of me in the library line; they spend an extra ten minutes chatting with the librarian out of desperate need for a conversation that doesn’t start with “No-no!” Even the glossy magazine version of parenthood seems narrow and uncomfortable, like a culture contrived for people out of touch with everything else.
Fortunately, having a daughter hasn’t made me forget to brush my hair or to listen to good music or to hang out with friends. I remember feeling terrified in the early months that I would wake up one morning with no sense of individual self, but I’m learning to settle comfortably into the knowledge that I’m still me… even on my forty-seventh consecutive encore of “that Barney song.”
So what has parenthood, in all its fledgling glory, been for me? It’s been waking up to a sweet voice singing at the top of her lungs in the next room (picture a Disney cartoon, but without the possessed birdies). Some days, it’s been waking up to panicked crying from the next room and knowing that one hug from me can offset all the scary garbage truck noises in the world. It’s been teaching Natalie to be patient when we go out with our adult friends, and it’s been teaching myself to be patient when “potty time” doesn’t go according to plan. It’s been frustration, but more gratification; mistakes, but more triumphs; growing up, but more growing young. It’s been soaking up the joy bursting out of my little girl’s eyes and arms and legs and mouth [especially her mouth!] when she’s excited about life, which happens with a frequency and enthusiasm I hope I can learn.
Yes, I’m a mother (good heavens, does that sound as stuffy as I feel just by writing it?)… but I’m still a wife and a friend and a sister and a daughter and a woman who loves to write, look pretty, and drink frivolous coffee concoctions.