For the longest time, the biggest obstacle to my writing has been the fact that I felt like I had no story to tell. I had nothing to say that anyone would want to hear. Or nothing important enough to say that wasn’t being already said by the trolls of the blogosphere and twitter-verse.
I have no rags-to-riches sagas. Never met a rich, ridiculously handsome dude who would teach me all the different shades of grey. No Adele-level breakups. No domestic-goddessy skills, no wizardry with a flat iron, no magic with makeup. I don’t even have a cat to turn into an internet sensation. Never overcame a soul-crushing obstacle in life. And to top that off, I chose to become an accountant. An accountant is a vegetable equivalent of a boiled potato. Hardy, stable, and gravely uninteresting.
In short, God has blessed me in so many ways that make for a great life but an unlikely bestselling autobiography. The only exciting thing to have ever happened to me that veered me off my humdrum path, pushed me onto a side road and has me precariously hanging off a cliff with a waterfall underneath is, wait for it – parenting.
I was a career forward, yoga-pant donning, Starbucks-drinking, Pinterest-ing, travel-bug-infested millennial. I was the owner of my own destiny, the guardian of my ovaries. Before I became a mother, I liked children as much as anyone else – which means infrequently and from a distance. I liked them in viral online videos and when I could give them back to their parents when they started crying. I rolled my eyes at mini-vanning soccer moms, looked down upon tantrum-ing toddlers in grocery store aisles, judged women who had one too many bundles of joy, and was occasionally known to slap ice-cream cones out of little kids’ fingers.
What was so exciting about a gazillion diaper changes, spending your evenings watching Dora-the-whoever, sitting in parks with screaming children on slides, doing lame arts and crafts, or sitting through little league games with glazed eyes and glazed Timbits?
And then I had a kid.
After I became a mother, I realized that parenting was one of the most exciting things you can experience because it’s exactly like jury duty. Allow me to explain. Everyone is inexperienced and unprepared for the job. An innocent person’s life is in your hands. You constantly second guess your assumptions and decisions. It can be mind-numbingly mundane at times. Sometimes you are stuck in a room all day, cut off from the world. You may forge friendships with people who are nothing like you, but are going through the same experience. Someone is going to lose their shit at some point out of frustration. If you are honest and committed to the job, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. And lastly, you will have to look at, and inspect items with other people’s bodily fluids on them. It’s the EXACT SAME THING.
The things I once thought were mundane, like spending your evenings watching Dora, are still mundane, but somehow you start enjoying them because a) Dora babysits your child as you cook b) your child memorizes all the Spanish phrases and then talks to your parents in Spanish which confuses the heck out of them. Keeping your child entertained and physical means you take them to parks where you get to be outdoors, slurp on frappuccinos, and connect with parents of screaming children on slides. Grocery shopping becomes entertaining because your child gets excited every time they see a fruit they recognize and also because they point at random people and say, “Who’s that?” You realize arts and crafts are not so bad after all because you play with playdough and colorful sticks long after your child has moved on to other things. And there’s nothing quite like eating an ice-cream cone with your child on a hot, summer afternoon and getting them a different flavor so you can eat some of theirs too.
Becoming a parent changes your identity, shapes your perspective and makes you rethink who you are and who you want to become. It unlocks reserves of love, patience and strength in you that you didn’t know existed. It makes you stop judging nerve-wrecked mothers of tantrum-ing toddlers and give them a sympathetic eye and a fist bump instead.
A friend once told me that I say things about parenting that other people don’t. Either because they have honey-covered angels for children or lacked the gall to be honest. In any case, it means that I may not have an interesting story, but I have an interesting vantage point on it. If you are reading this and you aren’t a parent, you are about to learn a lot about parenting. And also jury duty.
If you are a parent. Stay tuned. It’s gon get fun.