…I grow old…
We’re all used to thinking of ourselves in a certain way, right? We rely on our relationships or our jobs or our personal stereotypes or our notions of what other people think of us to develop a framework for self-perception. We progress through the segmented identities of the school years to defining ourselves by majors or sports in our college years. And after the easy classification of the university ends, we find our places in the world as athletic stockbrokers, latte-sipping librarians, and amature skiers who wait tables on the side.
Some of the fortunate few manage to develop a realistic picture of themselves in relation to God and the world, acquiring what my husband would call “accurate self-esteem” and what others might call a healthy humility. These wise ones understand their place on the Great Chain of Being. The rest of us waver between abject self-loathing and delusions of grandeur on any given day. And sometimes, well, we’re forced to face the truth about ourselves and our station in life, whether we like it or not.
Last night, I realized that I’ve been clinging to a self-image that expired 3 years ago.
You see, my first year as a single working girl was a pretty tough time of transition, but by my SECOND year, I hit my stride.
The good life of a single working girl in Colorado Springs looks something like this: living with a handful of fabulous and fun-loving college friends in a gorgeous downtown apartment that was high-heeled walking distance from at least 17 bars; working a full-time job that paid the (ridiculously low) rent and proffered all the perks of an academic schedule; maintaining a relatively rigorous work-out schedule and keeping up with the latest fashion trends. You know these girls: they’re cute, well-dressed, and will eagerly make the drive to Denver to try a new martini. They are, in a nutshell, Whoo Girls.
Later on, the good life got even better: me and my single friends gradually found our prince charmings (not one of them was discovered at any of the 17 bars, by the way); then came the season of wedding-planning when we all learned that grown-up life is very expensive; then the season of weddings and honeymoons. And, immediately following that: pregnancy! (But that last one was just me).
Through all that, it didn’t seem like much had changed. Sure, we made the transition from crazy margarita/pinata/oops, the-cops-are-coming parties to smaller, more intimate dinner parties. And, honestly, the downtown club scene lost a lot of appeal when I took a nine-month hiatus from alcohol. But young, hip, married couples aren’t too far from young, hip singles, right?
Last night Zach and I took Sam to a birthday party for one of Zach’s young, hip, single friends. This fellow was turning twenty-five (Happy Birthday, Brad!) and celebrating with a barbeque that would transition into a roaring house party as the night rolled on. The guys had a fridge specifically designated for beer, and a suspicious looking machine serving “Sneaky Punch” on tap.
Our little family showed up around 5pm for burgers and beer. Sam, who has yet to develop most social graces, slept the whole time. For a while, all was well: we ate and talked like normal people at a normal party. But then a strange thing happened. The next door neighbors arrived.
The neighbors were curious creatures: impossibly slender young women wearing clothing so fashionable that I momentarily wondered if it was a costume party.
Don’t get me wrong: these girls were perfectly nice young women. They just seemed a little too young for a party with Sneaky Punch. And a little too cute in their sun dresses and jumpsuits. And can anyone really be that excited about putting up streamers?
I pondered these things for a little while when I took Sam downstairs to nurse after dinner. As the two of us sat in a bachelor’s basement listening to the party up above, it occurred to me that perhaps my choice of maternity jeans, flats, and last year’s cardigan was frumpy party-attire. Not much fits well twelve days after giving birth, though. But, true, I hadn’t even taken the time to do my hair before we left (how could I? Sam had to eat). Was it possible that I no longer cared about presentation? Was it possible that…?
Shortly thereafter, we took our leave. It wasn’t even 8 o’clock.
As we carried Sam’s car seat inside, my ever-observant husband noticed my “about to burst into irrational tears” sniffle and asked, “Honey, what’s wrong?”
The only response I could articulate at the time was, “I just…I feel like such a MOM!”
But what I really meant and mean, is that I’m coming to grips with the fact that I’m not the cute young thing I used to be and am, instead, in the process of receiving the cumbersome blessing of motherhood, and it’s a little more than I feel ready to handle most days.
But there will be time…for visions and revisions…
…and I guess I’ve got some revising to do.