The summer of 2006 brought me three things: a college diploma, an employment offer, and a positive pregnancy test. I welcomed all three. Each one something I’d longed for but was unsure if I’d ever possess.
Yet possess them I did and all at once. I learned the ins and outs of my new job in those first few months almost as well as I came to know the inside of the bathroom stall at work — a place I found myself frequently when an unsuspecting co-worker re-heated last night’s salmon dinner in the communal microwave near my desk. This produced a stench that reeked havoc on the power of super scent bestowed upon me by the first trimester of pregnancy. (Can we all just agree here and now that fish doesn’t re-heat well and put an end to this senseless war on our olfactory systems?)
Suddenly, I was a wife, a college graduate, a scientist, and a soon to be mother with a body rapidly changing in a way that both amazed and horrified me. I embraced these new roles (and elastic-waisted pants), but in the quiet of night, long after my husband’s even breathing signaled he’d drifted off, I’d lie awake thinking about how quickly it all happened. I’d begun the year as a senior in college, a lover of cheap beer, mini-skirts, and fraternity parties and somehow by its middle I was the married mother of one on the way, a lover of 8 p.m. bed times, XL yoga pants, and Friday night Friends reruns.
Motherhood had changed things. I knew that it would, but with so much of the old me slipping away, replaced by this new normal, I calmed myself with absolutes. I made promises to myself about the person I would or would not be as a mother. In my childless state, I had watched so many, my own sister even, check out of the hospital and exchange their rational mind for a baby-centric mound of goo capable only of communicating about their bouncing, bundle of joy.
“I cannot let this happen to me,” I thought. My resolve was made steel by a lunch with a colleague during which she recounted the thrilling story of the way her toddler pronounced the word “spaghetti” for the fifth time as if she had forgotten the first four times she’d told me. I pretended to listen, but really I sat wondering what it was about parenthood that not only rendered one so easily impressed, but also thoroughly convinced one that every person they encounter will be intrigued by the minutiae of their offspring’s achievements.
I had almost forgotten the sacred vow I’d taken all those year ago and then, yesterday, Anders drew this:
It was a masterpiece! Hands shaking with excitement I took a picture to text to my younger (childless) sister so that together we could “ooh!” and “ahh!” over my son’s superior artistic ability. She texted back quickly.
“What is this?”
“It’s a picture. Anders drew it. Isn’t it amazing?”
“Umm…I guess. What is it exactly?”
“Isn’t it obvious? It’s a clown at the circus holding a tiger on a leash while an adoring audience looks on. The attention to detail is breathtaking. No?”
“Amber, I think you need to get out more.”
I don’t know when it happened, but I’ve officially crossed over to the dark side and I kind of like it.