I used to be that person who glared at kids in a restaurant, was annoyed by their pervasive stickiness, and just generally thought kids were a pain, until I had my own. When my first child was born, I actually felt my heart grow three times its size just like it happened to the Grinch after hearing the Who’s in Whoville singing despite their lack of Christmas presents. Amazingly, it felt just like it was shown in the cartoon. From then on, I could continue to love everyone as I did before, but also have enough room to love each of my children.
Now I make googly faces at kids in carts while waiting in line at stores. I wave at passing cars when kids are looking out the window and being silly. I can see all their adorableness now, when I couldn’t see it before. Thanks to my three little lovelies, Garry, Tommy, and Kay (also known as Gar-Gar, Tom-Tom, and Kay-Kay), I’m reformed. But, I feel like I’ve been in a time capsule for more than 25 years. That’s how long I’ve been a mother.
Once again I can sit at a cafe with a cup of coffee and watch the endless parade of people going about their day. I never used to see them. If I actually made it to the cafe, I’d be pushing the stroller, or keeping a child still, or trying not to show how much my teenager hurt my feelings, all while juggling a hot beverage. Now, it’s just me, and occasionally three grown adults who swing in and out of my life when they like.
Long ago, I was an aspiring, capable, independent woman. I still am, but I’ve been covered under baby spit up, gigantic grocery bills, sports equipment, and college concerns. I got used to peeking out on my own life from behind the mom gook.
With the kids’ bedrooms reclaimed and my parenting reduced to advisory capacity only, I have time to reflect. What I’ve learned so far is that the toughest job you’ll ever love is not being a marine. It’s being a parent.