Sunday, May 8, 2011
When I got my nose pierced, I only knew one other person with a nose ring.
I got a tattoo on the small of my back before the whole "tramp stamp" thing was a thing.
I used to have pink hair and wear black nail polish.
I have lived in Compton, been in drive-by's, spent a summer in a mud hut in an African refugee camp, white water rafted down the Nile, and touched a lion in the wild.
I know, I'm fascinating.
But sometime last week, I realized that most of my life is spent in the kitchen, juggling a baby while washing dishes & making dinner. I wear the same clothes several days in a row because I share a bedroom with a baby, and it's easier to wear yesterday's clothes than sneak back into the room & pick out something in the dark.
A while ago, I was driving behind a mini-van in traffic with a bumper sticker that said "I used to be cool". I wanted to bump my fist on my chest in acknowledgement.
You know that scene that happens in every super hero movie? It's the one where the light bulb turns on, and the girl realizes that Peter Parker is Spiderman, or Clark Kent is Superman. Suddenly she understands that the ordinary, geeky guy she's always overlooked is actually amazing-- super, to be specific.
Well, sometime after 18ish hours of labor (I lost count), I left the hospital a sleep deprived, exhausted, hormonal mess, and the light bulb turned on: All these women around me, all these frumpy, baggy-eyed moms walking the streets were actually super heroes in disguise.
I had always known that being a mom involved sacrifice, that it is a life-long act of selflessness to become a mother, and that it's hard, hard work. But I never really understood. Something happened after I joined their ranks, and I was in awe. We are amazing. No really, we are. I constantly wanted to sing "I am Woman, Hear Me Roar" at the top of my lungs, and congratulate every female pushing a stroller.
After nine months of motherhood, some of the initial awe has worn off, as I'm sure it did for Superman, once he had been flying around for a while. But I'm glad that we have one day out of the year when children can make breakfast in bed, dads can make reservations, and moms can receive cards & flowers & chocolate as small tokens of the super-human acts they perform everyday.
And so, all you mothers out there, I salute you, and give a knowing little wink: While the rest of the world may think you're just some frumpy unkempt woman in a mini-van, I know that doing dishes while balancing a curious crawler is nothing less than heroic, and that no one will ever see the millions of things you do everyday for other people.
But I think the best part is that it really doesn't matter. It's okay that no one sees. It's okay that "cool" is gone forever. Honestly, it really doesn't matter. I don't say this in a mushy, martyr kind of way-- I really mean it when I say that it's completely worth it.
And in those moments where I'm sick & tired of standing in front of the kitchen sink, or I can tell by the look in someone's eye that I am just an out-of-touch mom, I can remember-- and honestly believe-- that it is all worth it. Although I can't put words to it, something shifts-- everything shifts, really-- and this un-glamorous, self-sacrificing life becomes an unfathomable privilege. Weird, I know, but true.
Happy Mother's Day.