Sometimes I have really long commutes to work. Like, an hour and half each way (plus a 12hr shift, but who’s counting?). And a part of me really enjoys that quiet time. Sometimes I just drive along reveling in complete silence, because silence is so rare in my life. And sometimes I listen to the radio. Today was a radio day and the question was asked, what was the defining moment when you realized you were a parent?
While I was listening to people respond, mostly to the tune of ‘when I pick up the pacifier and pop it in my mouth to clean it’ or ‘when I wipe my child’s nose with my bare hands’ (a tad cliched, but 100% true) it got me to thinking if I had a defining moment that made me realize, holy buckets, I am a parent.
I mentally scrolled through the past three years that I’ve held the title mom. Was it the birth of my first born child, our first experience with NICU, our second experience with NICU? Was it the first time I stayed up all night rocking a crying baby or when I realized a night in with my family was far more appealing than any night out on the town?
And while each of these moments certainly bear the mark of parenthood, I’m not sure that any of them were singularly defining for me. At least not in the sense that it made me say ‘Ok, well now I am a parent’.
Rather, for me, the realization of being a parent has been a series of revolving bittersweet punches to the gut.
Especially since most of the time I still walk around feeling like I’m 12. Like I don’t really have a mortgage to pay, a career I spent 7 years studying for, or groceries to buy. Sometimes it’s like I’m pretending to play grown up and pretty soon my mom will tell me it’s time for dinner.
Except, now I’m the mom yelling for my family to come eat.
And it hits me, slowly then all at once, I am a mother. And the hits keep coming. From the first time I held my child, to that first fever, or fall, or belly laugh. With each new first I realize all over again that I am a parent.
That somehow (sometimes even inconceivable to me) I have arrived at a point in my life where I have little people, actual tiny humans, that depend on me. For everything.
So you see, I don’t have one defining moment that it really sunk in that I’m a parent. But all it takes are some chubby little arms around my neck to bring memories of the past three years flooding back, and then I can’t breathe. Because the enormity of those memories hits me like a ton of bricks and I realize all over again, how lucky I am to be their mother.
And then you have those less than perfect moments. Like this. You know, where your kids refuse to smile and all you wanted was just one nice family picture? Is that really so much to ask?
But in the years to come, I’ll still look back on these photos and they’ll still take my breath away.
I guess we did get a couple smiles from Matthew 😉