A simple exchange between a friend and I triggered some reflection on my maternal evolution over these past (almost) 4 years. When my first child came into my life I become very aware of the immediate and physical changes I had to make: the loss of sleep, the rescheduling around naps, the stains on my clothes. However, over time my thought processes altered as well. No longer do I admire the decor when visiting friend’s home. Instead, I scan the room for potential breakables within The Bear’s reach. A restaurant’s desirability is no longer measured in the quality of food, but in how fast we can get in and out without a meltdown. I imagine as my kids get older there will be new analyses I develop to survive motherhood.
This summer while on vacation Daddysaurus very poignantly said to me, “You know, vacation means something different when you’ve got little kids.” While we can still put our feet in the sand, we’ve got to be ready in a second to jump up and grab a little one too close to the surf. The summery sun feels great on my skin, but I’ve gotta make sure their delicate skin is slathered in sunscreen before we walk out the door. The long meaningful talks Daddysaurus and I previously enjoyed on road trips now revolve around potty breaks, where the wipes went, or the philosophical depth Frozen. Elsa’s individual freedom comes at the cost of the community. Is this symbolic of our destruction of the environment to satisfy our own individual needs? (It was a long car ride.)
And speaking of Daddysaurus, marriage becomes a different entity all together with the introduction of a child. After The Bear was born I remember saying our language needed a word for the role I played. Wife and mother are two exclusive relationships and yet they are so intertwined. Would I be a “wother” or a “mife?” (Neither. I’m still working on that.) But being a mother had and still has such a big impact on who I am as a wife. As a newlyweds we shared all sorts of fun and exciting experiences. And we’ve shared plenty of those as parents. But we’ve also shared trips to the ER, big financial decisions related to our children’s future, and lots of sleepless nights and crabby mornings. These are the kinds of things that have made our marriage stronger and I’m grateful for them now though at the time they were quite unpleasant and stressful.
Furniture, vacation and marriage are just a few of the adaptations that come with parenthood. In a way I feel like I am back in college and each stage of child development is a new semester with so much to learn and integrate into my existing doctrine. Each child feels like a cumulative test. Some days feel like those horrendous multiple choice questions with the solutions of A, B, C, A & B, A &C, B &C or none of the above. Some days the answer is as clear as an icicle in Arendelle. That’s when you get rid of the coffee table.