I have a three year old daughter.  Jeez, I can remember getting on the school bus at the corner and looking up at the oldest kids on the bus, who were, at max, a ripe old thirteen years, thinking I can’t wait to be so grown up.  Funny thing is I am 26 and I still don’t feel grown up.

When I step back and look at my life, I am very confused, a little disappointed (in myself), and outrageously grateful.  Three years and a little more than a month ago, Paul came by my house before my baby shower, given by Megan and Jessica, at the house Jessica and I shared in the hood, to pick up sonogram photos to show his parents when he told them they were going to be grandparents twice over much sooner than they had supposed.  Paul’s parents are simply amazing.  That had to be a shock of a lifetime, but they handled it with a grace and a “je ne sais quoi” that i have come to realize simply permeates even their most mundane everyday tasks.

The whole clan made me feel welcome (you people know who you are).  My daughter has an amazing extended family.

I always dreamed that when and if I had children that I would be a sterling example of what it means to be a human being.  I would be married, have a career of which I am proud, and of course somehow I would instinctively know my child’s every need and want.  Well I am most certainly not married, although Paul and I are engaged.  I work a retail job that sends me into a death spiral of panic and depression every time i walk through the door.  Finally we arrive at the following conversation.

Caroline:  Mommy, I’m hungry.

Me:  Well, what would you like to eat?

Caroline:  Food.

Me:  What kind of food, sweetheart?

Caroline: I don’t know.

I will spare you the rest but eventually I resort to popcorn because I can find nothing that will seem to satisfy her.  A more well-balanced meal the world has never seen and will likely see never again.

Yesterday, was officially Caroline’s birthday.  As I was lying awake in bed trying to ease the pain in my knee in any way i knew how short of a hack saw and some whiskey, I came  to a realization.  I am a bloody sterling example of what it is to be human.  Every day I know my little girl sees what is most important, a mommy and daddy that love her.  And Paul, poor Paul,  he puts up with my ten kinds of crazy everyday and he still sticks around…You cannot tell me that isn’t love.  He is lying in bed finally sleeping after a feeling awful all day and driving from Lafayette back to Baton Rouge with a less than happy little girl.  He works harder than anyone I know.  I love him.

I think women have two hearts because if I say that Caroline or Paul are individually my everything, I am lying and stating a truth at the same time.

My job may make feel like a soulless automaton, but I do adore my co-workers.  I may not be saving lives or changing the world, but I am learning amazing things from amazing people.  On my team, there are some of the most encouraging and awe-inspiring characters.  I call them characters because when I try to describe them, they sound too large for life.  I know that the atmosphere in our little departmental bubble and that even I contribute to that indescribability, but  honestly half of these people don’t sleep, work two or three jobs, and go to school or raise kids  yet they smile and toss around playful, sometimes mildly embarrassing, banter that seems to float effortlessly across the room like the bubbles blown by Caroline that drift away upon the breeze.

I may not be a mom in the June Cleaver sense of the word or in the way that I fantasized, but I am a real mom none the less.  I am almost certain, that just like the fractures and scrapes that leave the scars of childhood, my flaws ( understatement of the year at least until I wake up in the morning) actually build character and make me a better mother in a way.   I will always expect the best from Caroline, but even if she screws up I think I will have shown her you can come out alright on the other side.

later alligator
Dancing Dancing Danciiiiiinnnng

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