In just a 17 days, my daughter, the adorable one, turns 2. There's a lot of twoishness going on - pickiness about nearly everything, from what she eats and wears to whether she wears anything at all, temper tantrums, the ever-enjoyable turning into a limp noodle-being and sinking to the floor when she doesn't want to go somewhere, and a whole big lot of the word 'no'. Pretty normal for an almost 2 year old, all things considered.
I love to watch her though. She's curious about pretty much everything, and she's convinced with the right balloon she could fly. She's outgoing, and seems to have an idea about people - more than once she's provided a hug to someone at exactly the right time. It's like she has a 6th sense about that kind of thing. I both love to watch her grow right before me, and pray that she doesn't grow too fast. I get the empty nest thing now, I know I will be both proud, and deeply saddened when it's her turn to fly off.
Motherhood has changed me. It's inevitable, really - parenthood starts when a rather smallish little dictator is delivered to unsuspecting parents. Babies are adorable dictators, but dictators still. All of a sudden, you go from being all about you - albeit not as svelte a you as perhaps you were accustomed to being before the advent of the whole pregnancy thing - to being all about someone other than you.
But that's not the surprising part. I sort of expected that part, although the sheer brutality of 12 months without a single night of more than 5-6 hours of sleep (and often less) would startle anyone.. anyone who could work up the energy to be startled, that is. To be honest, I still don't often get a good night's sleep. But even that isn't the really big surprise.
The really big surprise is that not only did parenthood change my focus, it changed the way I see the world. If I had empathy before, but it's nothing like now. Kids who are hungry, in need of medical care, or heck, just winter boots - are deeply upsetting to me. Our giving, both planned and ad-hoc, has gone up exponentially in this area. To the point where Sander occasionally attempts to remind me that saving the world is beyond our means.
But in many areas, it's also crystallized my feelings. I think some things to me are more fixed and firm than they were before. I'm open minded about some things, and about most people, but I'll never be able to vote Republican. I tend to think that motherhood forced me to become a more ruthless editor of my life - tossing out once and for all the possibilities that likely will never fit me so that there's room for the possibilities that may. There's that cliche about never saying never, but I think it's okay sometimes. I've made it to 37 years old and still don't like lima beans, I'm comfortable saying that they will never cross my doorstep. The only way you are getting lima beans down my throat is if it's 50 years from now when I'm drooly and in the old folks home. Because by then I might not care, or be able to tell the pureed lima beans from the pureed peas.
Motherhood has also helped me to understand loss. To have a child is to forever have that little finger of fear in your heart. I know enough people who have either lost a child or children who have lost a parent while they were still young to not feel vulnerable. And a recent loss of our own over Thanksgiving, of a baby in the first trimester brings that possibility of loss much more in the present. I literally thank God every day for keeping the adorable one healthy and safe.
Parenthood has made my marriage infinitely more solid...and infinitely more fragile. It took a while for us to adjust, but we're more of a team than we've ever been, and rediculously happy to boot. That said, I'm now so much more aware of what could go wrong.
And I even now get why someone like Michelle Duggar keeps doing the baby thing. It's hard to look at your child as a blessing and not see more as a blessing too. Not going for 19, not even more than 2 - but I do understand it.
I get what it means to love someone just for loving your child.
I get why parents will give up everything and anything to ensure their child has what he or she needs.
Motherhood is a funny thing. It takes what you think you know about the world and upends it on it's ear. But you don't really mind, and after a while it starts to seem rather normal..after a while, you wonder how you could have ever seen the world any different.
My daughter is about to turn 2, and it's a milestone for me too. There's no Peep and the Big Wide World party for my milestone, but that's okay - it's one any mother or father could recognize.