An Apple Seed.
I was cleaning out my closet last week, when I came across a familiar coral dress. I glanced down to admire the little hidden pockets that had convinced me the dress was worth paying full price. It was almost three years ago this May that I had selected this particular dress for my husband’s graduation ceremony from dental school. And although I didn’t have the ninety dollars to spare when I bought it, this dress was necessary for a special day.
And special it was.
Flooded with nostalgia, I removed the dress from the hanger and pressed it up against my chest. I could almost feel my husband’s chilly fingers zipping me up that afternoon, as we prepared to depart our home. Yes, we were nervous and excited for his graduation, which would bring both of our families together for a dinner celebration. But after I had taken a pregnancy test that morning, we had more than just a graduation to celebrate.
We drove to the auditorium with a secret almost too big for just two people to bear. I can still feel our clammy hands grasping each other as we prepared to tell our families our surprise that evening.
After compulsively researching on What to Expect’s website, I proudly reported to my husband on the way to the ceremony, “Our baby is the size of an apple seed.”
A tiny little apple seed.
Motherhood has an interesting way of putting time into perspective. There’s nothing like witnessing a child grow from the size of an apple seed inside of you to a 26.5 pound, pig-tailed girl in a matter of a few years. I have dresses older than my daughter, yet, sometimes I don’t remember the person I was before she came into the world.
Being her mother has provided me a front row seat to a beautiful show— a show that allows me the privilege of watching a life grow. But almost immediately after her birth, I found that watching her life is more than just a spectacle to sit and admire. It’s an interactive, impromptu play where my husband and I act and react to the challenges thrown our way. Just like our children, we, as parents, grow and develop from (parental) infancy to maturity. So that sooner than later we are able to handle the challenges raising children will indelibly pose.
As I’ve watched my baby (who is no longer a baby) grow and learn, I, myself, have learned much about living. And although sometimes I’m reluctant to admit it- I’ve changed so much about how I approach the world, as a direct result of being a parent.
Of course there are the obvious changes. I no longer catch Happy Hour on a Tuesday, nor do I have any idea what’s playing at the local movie theater right now. And for every hair my husband has lost since becoming a father, I have gained another horizontal crevice in my forehead.
But that’s just scratching the surface. The internal changes have been the most profound. I remember in the weeks following the birth of my daughter, I longed for my old life. So much change had occurred around me, however my mind was slow to make the switch. I wanted to sleep in and eat a late brunch with my husband on Saturday afternoon, guilt-free. I wanted to make an impromptu trip to the mall by myself without worrying whether or not my breasts would spring a leak. I wanted to feel like myself again, as shameful as it felt in the moment.
But slowly, and not so mysteriously, I stopped longing for the life I once had. I found comfort in the giggles and grins of a baby who needed her mama more than anyone in the world. And the love that I’ve received from her is more than I deserve.
Childbirth technically makes you a mother. But becoming a mother takes time, and adjustment. In fact, I’m still tweaking myself daily. It takes moments of feeling like a failure to understand how much you are actually succeeding. It takes days filled with pure and utter exhaustion to appreciate sweet, lazy cuddles on a Saturday morning with your family. It takes guts and brutal honesty with yourself to reconcile the woman you have always been with the mother you need to become.
My darling daugter will turn two years old in a few short days. It’s been my greatest privilege watching her say new words and take on new adventures. But I will never be able to repay her for the positive change she invoked inside me. She made me a mother, even though it took a while for me to get there.
Now days, there's an internal voice constantly reminding me that my child deserves only my best. I guess it's called a maternal instinct. But despite what I choose to call it, it makes me better- as both a spectator and player in this crazy game of life.
After the memories began to flee my mind, I tucked away that linen dress with the sweetest little pockets- possibly for good. I placed it back on the hanger but moved it to the middle of the rack. No the dress probably wouldn’t zip if I tried to wear it again, but I’m not keeping it in my closet for hope of future wears. I’m leaving that dress in the front of my closet as a souvenir- a souvenir from my journey as a mother that began on a sunny day in May.
It’s a reminder that something as small as an apple seed can bring an unmistakable sense of purpose to life, and produce enough love to fill a person's pockets forever.