There is a milestone coming up in our household. Our little baby is almost one. One. One!
I remember when we used to count her age in days. Then weeks. Then months. Soon she will be a whole year old and it makes me think about before she was here. Was there such a time? I have become nostalgic; remembering the way she sang to herself during her first night in the world, or looked so small against her car seat. When she used to diligently suck two fingers or seem to stare deep into the core of me. It brings tears to my eyes.
You see, I am a changed person now. Even before becoming a parent something began to happen after I left my job. I got stripped down.
You know when you start a new job and have to assimilate the jargon of a place, learn how you should communicate with this person or that, the rules, the ways of being? And remember how your parents and teachers taught you how to be, or more significantly, showed you how to be? We mimic, we reflect. We learn that it’s best not to shout. Or swear. Or cry when someone gives you feedback or “constructive criticism”. We learn to suck it up. Be silent when we should be. Play by the rules so as not to make anyone uncomfortable. On top of what we would do if we didn’t know better is a new layer of what we do because we know we oughtta.
And then. Stepping away from a world I’d become familiar with my old identity started to peel away. I was no longer a Human Resources Director. When people asked “What do you do?” I had to start my reply with “I was…” But who was I now? Somehow losing this identity shook up the rest of it. The rules. The cloaking of polite smiles, refused tears, held in cussin’ and shoutin’. I got stripped down. My emotions were no longer buried, they were right there. Flaunting themselves shamelessly.
Becoming a parent has taken this to a whole new level. Is it months of sleep deprivation? Residual hormones? I don’t think so. I think it is the shock of tumbling in love with a tiny person, so vulnerable in the world. The realization that they could be lost, or worse, suffer. Pure love and unavoidable fear. I see it in my husband’s eyes too. We got stripped down.
And it is wonderful.