I am like a rock, multi-layered sediment, growing and changing and eroding each day. I started out in this world as a speck of dust, slowly becoming a pebble and growing bigger and bigger. When I leave Earth I will be a giant boulder, each of my layers telling a story about my life.
Yesterday I took the kids (all three of them) to the park for the first time. Since my youngest is only two months, I had yet to attempt this experiment. I thought for sure the park would be empty, but cringed when there were several parents with their children. Not just any parents. First time parents.
As I kept one eye on my active 2 year old and another eye on my 5.5 year old and bobbed the baby up and down in the Ergo I wore strapped to my chest, I noticed these parents doing the sort of thing only first time parents do. Playing one-on-one with their child. Bringing a zillion toys for their child to play with, and subsequently setting off a dozen squabbles with other children over these said toys. Their goofy “mom” and “dad” voices, which you’re pretty sure is one big show for everyone else to hear. “Jack, sweetie, that was not nice to poke that girl’s eye, now was it? Let’s go think about what you just did” in the most syrupy tone. That was my kid’s eye, by the way.
But that wasn’t it, really. It was the way they stare at other parents all wide-eyed and eager. Eager to talk, eager to show off their precious, eager to observe the other parents and what they’re doing. I blew it all off like the mother of three that I am. Not exactly too cool, but more like too busy.
I used to go to that park back when I only had one kid. I would play outer space with my son, pretending the playground equipment was our spaceship. I’d follow him around, answering every single question he had and playing pretend ice cream shop over and over and over again.
Now I was there playing referee, just trying to make sure everyone was safe. My son looked so old compared to the little kids. My daughter was like trying to hold a flea in your hands–hard to contain, moving everywhere, so excited to see a park because she doesn’t get the opportunity. If I tried playing pretend ice cream shop I’d be half-way into getting my scoop before I’d have to make a mad dash across the playground to corral my daughter.
I saw the first time parents watching me. I don’t know what they were thinking. Maybe they were scared at the idea of having to juggle multiple kids.
When I left the park, I couldn’t help but mull everything over. I didn’t know how I felt. On the one hand I missed being able to give that undivided attention to one child. I missed the newness of being a mom. I missed that feeling like this was everything in the world and you couldn’t see beyond your little life with that one tiny human being. You really felt like you made it in the world…you were a PARENT. What more could there be?
I felt a little weird looking at these newbie parents from the eyes of a parent who is further along in her journey. I felt a little old. I felt nostalgic, wanting to remember the details of when I was in that position.
I have to admit, I felt like life was moving along a little quicker than I would like. I spent my childhood dreaming of when I would become a parent, and then it happened and three kids later here I am, a little hardened, a lot more tired, but at the same time in a way happier and living a more rich life.
I’m not the mom I used to be because I’m not the woman I used to be. I’ve developed new professional goals. I’ve accomplished more. When I was the mother of that one little boy, I lived in a small two-bedroom house near the beach. Now I live in a four-bedroom house in a different city. I’m older and have collected many, many experiences. New layers, so to speak.
I started envisioning myself in the future. What would I do? Travel? PTA mom? New job opportunities? Go to a movie without kids??
I am a multi-layered rock. The mother I used to be is buried below new layers, no longer visible, but part of the structure of my being. She is still here, she is still me, but she has evolved. She can not stay the same. She, like everything else, is impermanent.
We so often feel saddled with our past–good or bad. We think one thing or one experience or one mistake or one victory defines us. In reality, those experiences are just one layer of who we are. They influence our shape and direction, but they by no means are the whole package. In a short time, they won’t even be visible–they too will be buried within us.
I decided to feel ok with not being that new mom who is still fresh on the journey, and look forward to the journeys I have yet to embark on. I’m still just a relatively small rock and have a lot more growth to do–more layers to add. There is still so much to do and see–so many firsts I have yet to encounter.
My job right now is to try to add the very best layers to my rock, shaped by choices, perspective, attitude, creativity.
At the end of the day, I want my rock to reach for the sky.