Last night, I put my baby girl in our Ergobaby carrier after an evening feeding, and headed out for a walk to enjoy our cool, California summer evening.
As we walked, I seized the opportunity of her calm alertness to talk to her. “Hi Esme,” I said, smiling down at her, inches from my face.
“That is the sky! See the pink clouds?”
“That is a tree, with green leaves.”
“That is a road, and this is a car with wheels.”
“Those are houses, with windows and rooves.”
And though I know she can’t 100% understand me, I loved seeing her eyes searching around, taking all of it in. This world, 100% brand-new to her.
The ever-increasing weight of her strains my back a bit, but I smile at her little soul, spread WIDE to this world…to soak it up, learn it, love it…and oh, she is only just beginning.
We walk by a car, and I notice it’s lights have been left on. I assume it belongs to a person inside the adjacent house, so we walk up to the door and I ring the doorbell.
A girl, no more than 3 years my junior (or maybe even the same age as I am?) answers the door, hair clipped half up, the other half curled perfectly. She has makeup on one eye, and perfectly manicured nails, in a cute little tank top and tiny pajama shorts like the ones I can no longer even THINK about pulling up over my “mommy-bum.”
“Hi…” she says inquisitively.
“Hey! Does this navy car belong to one of you guys?” I ask.
“Yes….” she said, almost waiting for this random mom to complain about where it’s parked, or some threat it poses, or another imposition it’s made on our little walk…
“The lights are on. I just wanted to let you know.”
Her face lights up. “Oh! Oh my gosh. THANK YOU!”
“No problem,” I say, as I turn and start to walk away.
Behind me, I hear her yell, “GUYS!”
[a cacophony of 3-4 attractive young women’s voices respond with ‘what?’]
“Amy left her lights on! Some nice lady with a baby just stopped by. You should go turn those off, Amy!”
As I walk away, I turn and can see through the big bay window of their living room, where a girl sits on the floor, curling her hair in a mirror propped against the wall, makeup strewn about on the floor. A well-attended drink sits next to her, half-empty…looks like a vodka/cranberry.
I am just the “nice lady with the baby” these days.
They have music blasting. It’s 8:30, so there’s still about an hour and a half before their “fashionably early” arrival at some downtown bar… Plenty of time to obsess over eyeliner to a fault, have a few more drinks, have a dance party on the couch with hairbrush microphones, change outfits a few times, borrow this or that or the other thing from the other 3 girls, gossip a bit about the people they’re meeting up with, take a few “ourselfies” once the dolling-up is complete and send at least 50 text messages effortlessly.
They are completely absorbed tonight in themselves, hanging out with girls equally absorbed in THEMselves, and NOT wrongly so…merely youthfully so. They are having FUN. They literally have no care in the world. Young. Beautiful. Flawless, even. They have time. They have disposable money. They have freedom, and NO obligations tomorrow…a beer-and-brunch date maybe, which they can keep or not keep depending on the severity of the hangover…which they will still sleep in with, laugh about, and forget by three days after the fact so they can go out with just as much vigor again.
I’m not assuming this, I KNOW this.
That used to be my life. I used to be them.
I smile towards that big bay window, showcasing the girl…
in a house full of girls…
with big plans, big wardrobes…
small doubts and smaller waistlines…
I miss you. I say with my smile. I miss that.
I walk on, the big bright eyes of my newborn staring up at me.
I realize the girl I was
is the girl she gets to look forward to being.
I have moved on to a phase of life where “looking good” means there’s not barf in my hair, poop on my shirt, or dried milk on my legs. It means wearing a bra that matches my panties or…heck…just any bra that doesn’t clip open in the front to nurse my baby at a moment’s notice…or a top that looks good on me, regardless of whether or not I can pull it apart quickly for feedings. Looking good means I’ve eaten salad and protein shakes instead of donuts and chicken fingers for a few days, which is rare.
“Going out” means I fed the baby and got her calm enough to go to Target, where I went for yet another “just to get us by” pack of newborn diapers and ended up wandering the aisles listlessly and buying tons of stuff I end up taking back later because at least that warrants another outing.
“Being social” means I answered 1/3 of my emails and 1/2 of the texts I’ve received, and I managed to rope in a friend to watch the baby for a few hours so I can get a haircut, after which I brought back cinnamon rolls for us, which we eat amidst a little bit of conversation before I get back to being a mom and they get back to being a free person.
But….you know—I had my time, I made my stories.
Now I’m making new stories.
Now I’m raising a beautiful little girl, who will become a free and beautiful woman, and she will have HER time.
This is the cycle. This is how life works.
That was the girl I was, but THIS is the girl she is. And I am lucky enough to be part of shaping everything she is going to be.
We keep walking home, her eyelids getting heavy, her breathing slowing, her cheek flush against my sweaty chest as she starts to drift off a bit.
I stop a few more times to pull the flowered branches of the trees down to show her…”Flower,” I say, “Pink flower.” I smile, feeling like I’m giving her so much knowledge, or at least smiling to feel better about the fact that I’m at least trying as hard as I possibly can be to be a good mom.
She grins, then falls asleep, dreaming her little dreams…
completely unaware of my big, big dreams for her,
which I will continue to hold joyfully in my
big, big “mommy heart.”
I miss the woman I used to be,
but not as much as I love the woman she has made me.
And I mean that.