My twenties were not spent changing diapers, shopping for formula or even pushing a stroller. No, quite the opposite. My twenties looked exactly as I had envisioned as a young girl. They were spent completing college, working long hours and building my career. It all seemed perfect.
While the majority of my friends were busy doing the same, a select few were brave enough to actually start a family. Friendships, like any other relationship, go through growing pains and being completely honest their families growing ... pained me. I should elaborate.
‘Pained’ me, may sound extreme but it was an adjustment to say the least. As plans would be made for nights out or vacation getaways inevitably the sentence: If I didn’t have (insert child name here). Now of course, it was never said with regret, but rather pointing out the obvious. They were now parents and that took on a whole different type of responsibility than any of us could fathom.
I remember one trip home from San Diego visiting a girlfriend when her son was two. I was honestly never so happy to get back on a cramped airplane after 48 hours in her life. Kids (I thought, as I ordered an airplane cocktail) are just plain exhausting. No thank you.
Granted that’s a big confession, but it’s absolutely how I felt at the time. Chasing the mighty dollar, living ‘the dream’ or what we deem it to be when we’re young and stupid ... that kept me content.
As time passes we do indeed grow wiser and ultimately ‘the dream’ looks slightly different. As I watched these once exhausting toddlers grow, so too did my dreams. And so ... in time we too became parents.
My duo recently took a two-week vacation without mommy. Now I’m sure there are a few readers thinking, how did she manage that? In all honesty it was hardly a picnic. The first six days I embraced my ‘22 self’ (as I like to call her) and had a grand time. Structure, however, pretty much became slim to none as I had no one else to work my day around. My daily runs were few and far between. My motivation and Type A tendencies took a wee bit of a vacation. As I began to miss my duo those three words popped back into my head and so too did this column.
If I didn’t.
If I didn’t have my duo, I would not know the warmth and love of goodnight kisses. I would not know the beauty of a sleeping child and how peaceful, even baby-like they look once sleeping.
If I didn’t have my duo, I would probably not own any pets. Remembering to feed and care for them becomes plain taxing when you’re living as a 22-year-old self.
If I didn’t have my duo, I would probably not know my way around a grocery store other than the produce and dairy section.
I would not turn my head quickly when hearing the word ‘mommy’ in a little voice. I would not have a car filled with crumbs and crap (there’s just no other way to put that). I would not know the touch of a little hand as I cross a street. I would not feel the squeeze of tiny arms after a long day at work and I would not hear the words ‘what’s for dinner.’ As a follow-up to that, I would also not hear the squeals when responding ice cream. Yes, we sometimes have our dessert first, because we can.
I think you’re all getting the picture and I apologize if to some this seems all a bit silly and mundane. What I came to realize however is this:
If I didn’t have my kids, I wouldn’t be me. Life, every bit of it shapes us into who we will be. From the career in my twenties and thirties, right down to those two amazing kids I missed so much ... these are the things that build us to be who we are.
While I realize parenting is not the path for all, I do recognize the blessing it is to be called ‘mom’ or so and so’s mother. I’ve grown into that title quite nicely and love no longer being known as the ‘lady from the Leader.’ It’s been a much welcome transition.
So to those friends who braved the unknown early on, thank you. I love that each of you were selfless enough to say ‘If I didn’t’ rather than ‘Let me make a call’ at every opportunity. Your selflessness was not only noticed but admired. Now I can say, if I didn’t have you as friends I just might be a different kind of mommy.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.