When you become a parent the reality is your life will drastically change. Your once cherished free time becomes consumed by the tiny human you are existing to keep alive. Your quiet mornings are replaced with early wake up calls, trips out take careful planning and organized orchestration, There is no question that once you become a parent everything, and I mean everything changes.
As I drove down the road I reflected on that bumper sticker. I disagree, in fact I have become cooler in my role as a parent. Trading in my little red Ford Focus for an icy blue Town and Country, more recently upgrading that to a Black Nissan Passenger, aka a 12 passenger van. Which I rock, I get hit on in that thing an unbelievable amount of times. If only they knew, the back is not piled high with trendy art pieces or our band instruments. This sleek sexy black van is filled with car seats...five to be exact!
Life is different and at times I hardly recognized myself. Giving up my Friday night wine nights for pizza and movie nights under homemade tents. I can't remember the last complete conversation I have had. I still talk about politics, religion, pop culture and news but I am attacked mid sentence by sticky hands touching my face, declarations of unfair sibling treatments and toddlers who need a snack...NOW!
Most days I hardly recognize myself, the woman I was just 4 years ago has changed. She has not been lost or slipped down the ranks of some invisible popularity chart, the transition that took place over three years ago has changed me but in all the good ways. Here is a list I thought about, things and ways I feel I have gotten “cooler” in this role as mom.
1. My Style Undercut, purple pieces, feathers in my hair, double nose ring and tattoos. Being a Mama, has boosted my confidence and courage in all areas. I don’t really care what others think, unless you are my fashionista six year old. The courage I have found in single handling cleaning up the vomit of a child that just rained down on me from the top bunk makes the all peer pressure or judgement of others just fade away.
2. My Compassion I would tend to say that empathy has always been pretty high on my personality assessments. Having children that I have had to fight and advocate for has taken it to a whole new level. Walking the path of this journey has made me so aware that everyone has a story that we don’t always get to know. We all have baggage we are bringing into relationships, daily interactions and life, I have learned to sit often and help unpack, organize and clean up the baggage. All the while keeping mine zipped up and not spilling over. When my three year old is throwing a category 5 fit, it is not because he is a brat nor is it a reflection of my parenting. It is in fact the reality that his story is hard, his little world was flipped upside down in the course of 24 hours he lost a father, a mother, three siblings and went to live with a stranger. His favorite toys and his routine, gone. No matter how dysfunctional it all was it was his normal and he lost it all. We must look around and SEE the world of hurting people around us. We must realize the weight of every interaction we have each and every day, the Target clerk who was polite, the waitress who was forgetful and that #$%^ that just cut you off in traffic. We ought to be a little kinder than we want to be, for we are unaware of the battles that are being fought all around us.
3. My Perception Nothing challenges your view of God, politics and social issues like children. When your kids look to you for the answers. When you are the one setting the benchmark for everything they will believe in, you better know your facts and convictions. You are the one that will shape their worldview and set their foundations. There is a pressure that goes along with that, to be kind, thoughtful and to sow seeds of love. I want my kids to SEE the world and other humans, as souls, not enemies, agendas or different.
4. My Confidence Our parents were right there will be a day where you care less what the world thinks. You will find your place to shine, despite what the critics around us are saying we step into something we are created to be. I love being a mom, I have never felt more alive, more attractive or more accomplished. What I am able to do in a day is incredible, the balls I can juggle is worthy of any talent show. I have learned to sit in the mess of our story the unfinished lines and question marks, it is there I have found peace. I do not need to justify to the world who I am or explain why we are, who we are. Instead, I make the effort to step out into the world with my little army of kindness warriors following closely behind with an effort to change our world. We are challenging what family looks like, what singleness looks like and what foster care looks like. One of my foster mom friends and I joked about getting a t-shirt that said, “I don’t know what is wrong with him, I have only been his mom two hours.” or even more so, “I didn’t do this to them.” People will see what they want to see until you show them otherwise, I want to show the world otherwise. I want to challenge their thoughts, judgements and assumptions. I want to show the world that labels do not define us.
5. My Time It seems I have less so I try to make the most of it. Choosing to steward the moments I have well by pressing in, creating space, having the hard conversations, loving hard and open, pouring out to the world around me. I am late often, I don’t have enough hours in the day it seems but I do know that I live each one of them with all that I have, because I don’t have another choice. Our days are filled with moments of pure joy and deep sorrow. We are breaking and celebrating each day through this unfolding story.
Each day I am being refined by my story, my life is not ever what I thought it would be. The addition of my children has only made me better, cooler even. They have not been the end of a legacy/good old days, life did not stop when I became a mom. In fact my life got richer and my influence grew, I have found my partners in this life and they are awesome. So I will live this story of beauty, brokenness, refinement and redemption, confidently winking in the mirror as I walk by.