Unlike math, parenthood has no right answer. From the onset, I held this 7-pound slimy human who was reliant on me for every bodily function 24/7 and I had no idea what I was doing. By the time I emerged from the haze of year one, my little human was using words and persuasive behavioral tactics (read: debate-worthy negotiations)
I worried so much about things which never came to fruition and the things that did happen were unpredictable. I didn’t join the mommy club thinking my two-year-old would need penis hole surgery (easy peasy) nor did I think MY kid will be the one bullied. I’ve learned the mother you envisioned becoming has nothing to do with the kind of mother you actually evolve into. Be prepared to love more intensely than you can imagine, appreciate coloring outside the lines, and accept that you’re going to fuck it up at some point.
Throughout my parenting career, I’ve encountered moments which feel like I’m peering at my life through a telescope or else looking from above, with the recurring, thought, “Really? How exactly did I get here? How is it that my kid keeps growing, but I am the same age?” Witnessing my children grow up feels like a psychedelic live action, real life, time-lapse video. Family photos merge into each other as children’s heads catch up with mine and then surpass mine.
I comically reflect on the moment my mother realized I entered puberty. I was getting ready for bed, wandering around the house in my underwear and an oversized T-shirt. My mother noticed a hair peeking out from my underwear and immediately made a grab for it. I yelped out in pain and she stepped back in horror. Her eyes widened so the whites surrounded the dark brown circle perfectly and she said two words I’ll never forget, “it’s attached?!”
The realization that I had sprouted pubic hair was devastating to her. (I didn’t mention it had been there for months.) She sobbed because this was somehow her drama; her moment. Didn’t I earn some sort of congratulatory pat on the back for my foray into womanhood? I felt embarrassed yet confused.
“You won’t understand until you’re a mother.”
Motherhood is living out one cliche after another; the biggest one being how we become hypocrites, creating “I would never” lists before we’ve been initiated into the club.
Last week my son was getting ready for bed. I noticed the bathroom door slightly ajar and poked my head inside to remind him to take his Claritin. Despite the 8 inches he hovers over me, he still asks me to fix his hair, make his eggs, and wake him when he oversleeps. (Thank goodness.)
One push of the door and I was instantly transported to the pubic hair moment of my youth.
Grateful I walked in on such an innocent moment, thinking of the American Pie-worthy moments I potentially could have interrupted. My son stood there, bare-chested, in his man boxers, shaving his scant teenage mustache with an electric razor. I saw my face reflected behind his head in the mirror. I smiled proudly. We had shown him how to use the razor once before and he did it without much pomp and circumstance. I didn’t note the date in a baby book nor did I Instagram the moment. But this particular day, when I walked in on him acting like such a man, handling business on his own, unmitigated by mom’s nagging, struck me as poignant and memorable.
I took a mental polaroid and filed it away to cry over at PMS time or when I blink and I’m in the “I Have a College Student Club.”