Above All Else, I Was their Mother.
I was born a dreamer and gifted with passions that turned into talents that led me to dreams of success that have been, and will continue to be, lovely. I was a child in a home where music was always playing and two rowdy brothers caught me every time I fell. I was a high school girl on the outskirts of the group where everyone wanted to be, and I couldn't get in. In college, I was a writer, I was a lover, I was a friend.
I was a professional with two cell phones and more shoes than I could afford. I was a straight-shooter and a ladder-climber with a sense of determination I didn't know I had inside. A coffee-fetcher, later an error-catcher, and finally. a byline. I was getting there.
I was his beloved and he was mine. A barefoot bride in white lace at sunset. I was a honeymooner, a tired commuter, a wife and a worker bee. I was ready.
When I had children the whole world changed and I won't apologize. I won't marginalize or downplay it. I love your sarcastic parenting memes and I'll drink a glass of wine with another mother any day of the week. I will listen to your strife and absolutely share my own. But I won't pretend in this world that has given me so much, that the utmost joy of it all is not the role that I am now in.
Because when I became a mother, that is what I was before everything and at the back end of it all, too. I love me, I remember me, all the parts that built me up to readiness for becoming theirs. But I am a mother most of all, and I am at peace.
I have learned how to fondly look back on thighs that don't touch and nights that don't end. I can still close my eyes and recall the smell and the feeling of air thick with cigarette smoke and promise. I remember what it feels like when the room is pulsing with the near dangerously loud music that you only love when you're out in public. I haven't forgotten the taste of vodka cranberries or the feeling of terror that the world might stop any time something went wrong at work or with a friend.
Someone recently looked at a brief sketch I made on my daughter's request and remarked, "Are you an artist?" I almost choked on my cold brew at the suggestion. It had been so many years since I thought to put pencil to paper and draw for my own enjoyment, that I'd just about forgotten. I waved off the suggestion and made a joke about absent free time and we got back to chatting on other topics. But her words stuck with me.
Maybe I will start drawing again, and stop putting off that aerial yoga class I've been wanting to take. Maybe I will get back into being a bit of an artist and traveler, a bit less of a couponer and late night worrier. But I won't regret the time it took me to get back to these parts of myself, because every minute I've spent getting to know their souls and changing my behavior to be the best version of me for them, was important.
When my time is up and they put me in the ground, I hope they'll know that of all the things I loved in life, the best part was being their mother.