One generic night, my daughter and I are in the kitchen, when she insists on standing on the counter so she can take all of the plates out one by one to stack them in a pile. After an usually long day at school/work, I watch her methodically reach into the cabinet, pull a plate out, bend down, and place it just so on her growing pile. Suddenly, it hits me that I wouldn’t change my life.
This may not seem so revelatory, but ever since I found out I was pregnant that fateful New Year’s Eve almost two years ago, I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that things would’ve been better if we had had PJ later in life. We could’ve had our own house, I could’ve modeled her a Pinterest-worthy nursery, I wouldn’t have been so stressed with school, I could’ve paid more attention to her. Basically, things wouldn’t have been so hard.
But that’s not the case. I’ve realized that, because of my personality, I would’ve been in a job and therefore had a lot of the same problems. Mostly though, I’ve changed and grown so much as a person, that the second half of my college experience, my writing, my marriage, and so much more would’ve suffered had I not become a mother when I did.
I remember being in high school, already two or three years into my relationship with my husband, and aching to live together. All I could think about was how badly I wanted to be with him–all day, every day–sleeping together, cooking together, having loud sex…
I remember being a freshman in college, debating whether we should get married (my dad would shun us if we moved in together out of wedlock). I nagged incessantly until I got my engagement ring and then wedding planning practically consumed me.
I remember the summer I was pregnant, isolated in our apartment day after day. I was so antsy and anxious because I wanted her to come at the beginning of the summer, not the end, so I could be back on track for the new semester to start.
I remember when PJ was born and all I wanted was for her to sleep through the night. I remember when all I wanted was for her to hold her own bottle. I remember when all I wanted was for her to wean off formula. I remember when all I wanted was for her to walk. Right now all I want is for her to stop making messes.
I remember when all I wanted was for the semester to be over, then I wanted the summer to be over, and the cycle continues.
Each of these times in my life, each memory, leaves a lingering taste in my mouth and conjures up a color I can’t name–one that takes me back there, to that former self.
And as I watch my daughter make a mess of the kitchen, I think of how I’m now married to my husband, living with him, in my senior year of college, and totally in love with our daughter. It’s as if I’m nodding back to my past selves and saying that it all turned out alright.