When you are pregnant and thinking of the months ahead when you will have a floppy, giggly, screamy bundle of baby you are not thinking of the years ahead. At least I wasn't. In my head, children did this magical turn from toddler to adult. I would have lots of snuggles and hugs and dirty diapers and then I would have a 21st birthday party and start thinking about grand babies.
The interim escaped my focus until it hit me square in the chin last weekend. I have an 8 year old. She's sarcastic and kind and emotional and not at all like the coffee slurping young adult I was picturing 9 years ago when I thought about being a Mommy. I was ill prepared for having to teach someone how to keep them self busy, how easy it is to hurt someone's feelings, how to wash their own hair, why it is important to use toilet paper (gross).
It's becoming more and more obvious as the years gain momentum that they ways that being a mother changes you are not easy to describe. That's probably why I haven't read a book about it yet. I think it's because no one can wrap words around what happens. You have a baby, who becomes a person, and the person they will become fundamentally affects the person you are turning into.
Before I became a parent I spoke differently, hypocrisy; while not ideal, was not as obvious because I didn't have a loud mouthed sidekick with no filter. I could snark all day long and never wonder that my words might get transmitted in the worst way possible to the object of my tirade. Now when I serve them veggies and spend my night downing Doritos, I usually see an inquisitive pair of blue eyes asking why I can eat straight from the bag but she has to get a bowl and stay in the kitchen.
I am humbled by the task I have been assigned. Being half responsible for teaching 4 other people how to move about in the world is a job that should come with some pre-requisites. I mean one could design a course requirement outline for parenting. It would involve:
Philosophy (Mommy why is Blue)
Sociology (Mommy why are people mean to each other?)
Accounting (How do I feed 6 people on this salary)
Biology (mommy where do babies come from)
Chemistry (Why tin foil should not go in the microwave)
Literature (put down the game and read a book for Gods sake)
English (WTF is not a sentence, use real words)
Fundamentals of Nutrition (Ninja Turtle fruit snacks are not an appropriate dinner option)
Communication (speak well, speak up, and remember that your is not the only opinion)
Pre-med (it's a mild fever, you are not going to die)
But beyond that there are so many things that just cannot be taught. Mom's have this magic look that can stop shenanigans in thier tracks. We can manage to fit things to care for 4 people into one bag and actually have everything we need. We can grocery shop with children.
So yes, I have changed. I am not the same Nellie I was 10 years ago, but I like this honest, capable, loving version of myself.