Today, 02/11/11, I was pursuing some old posts in the blog to help with a school project for Sophia, a 'Things about me" poster. As I was revisiting the past, I came across this old post from 2006. The last paragraph caught my attention (the one about Colin worrying about Sophia and his prolonged absences (uh, those absences were a maximum of 5 days back then, now we consider ourselves lucky this month because he will only be gone 17 days). I thought to myself.....self, some of these sentiments were worth revisiting. Only this time, I will feature of a fetching photo of Sophia in the red dress we bought her in China almost 5 years ago. She wore it for Chinese New Year's last week and she looked amazing. She is no longer a little baby, but rather, she is a bright, funny, insightful girl who is growing up so fast, right before my very eyes.
Before we took Colin to the airport this morning, she told him (in a very matter of fact manner, "you know Daddy, you are gone twice as long as you are ever home"). I know his heart broke because he relayed to me this exchange with a pained expression on his face. Make no mistake, we are both grateful that Colin has a good job. We're just hoping that, sometime soon, he can return back to work in the U.S. and, perhaps, once again, only be away for four to five days at a time. A girl can dream, can't she? Make that girls can dream, can't we? Darn, better make that, a family can dream, can't we? After all, we don't want to exclude the boys (Keenan or Colin) who long for the very same thing.
Without further adieu, here comes 2006.......
I was never someone who wanted children from a very young age. When I was 10, I didn't play with my Barbies and dream about my wedding day. When I was 18, 25, 30, 35 or 36, I NEVER thought about having children. (My friends and family who are reading this will chuckle at that memory).
I was the insensitive restaurant server who would cringe at the sound of a baby crying and the flight attendant who felt sorry for ANYONE who had the misfortune to be seated next to the family of four. I wasn't known to coo over babies and I never babysat the neighbors kids (well, maybe the four legged kind).
I would shake my head in wonder over mothers who adeptly changed poopy diapers and recoil at the thought of sticky little fingers and faces in high chairs. The only maternal urges I ever seemed to have completely revolved around horses. I would see a newborn foal and think "awww, that is so cute, I gotta get one of those some day."
I swore to my family, friends, and anyone else who would listen that I would NEVER have children.
And then I met Colin. And then a lot of my friends had babies and I discovered, much to my amazement, that I liked them. When Colin and I got married, I told him I was still pretty sure I didn't want kids and he still married me. What changed? I have absolutely no idea! That is not totally true. I think I finally met the right person (Colin) and perhaps, I just grew up a little.
That is not to suggest that people who choose not to have children are not grown up. I still have a lot of friends who will never have children and they are quite grown up, responsible and wonderful people. I guess what I mean is that, aside from the fact that, prior to Colin, I had never met anyone I could imagine having children with, I was also very terrified of the responsibility of having children.
Having a child is the ultimate exercise in responsibility and self sacrifice. Your life no longer revolves around you (which is as it should be). As a true blue egocentric, that utterly terrified me. I cherished the freedom to go where I like, when I like. A child was tantamount to being shackled and that was just not for me....... or so I thought.
I guess by the time Colin and I got married, I realized that I had pretty much done as I pleased for most of my life. I traveled to most, not all, but most of the places I had dreamed about going. Colin...if you are taking notes, Greece is still on my list.....say for a five year wedding gift or such. I had accomplished enough things and looked around and said to myself "is this all there is?" I realized how much I missed being close to my family. Colin missed his. And I thought to myself "self, we are both such family oriented people, why are we not raising one?"
Perhaps it really was just my biological clock kicking in and setting off alarm bells. When I readied myself to tell Colin I thought we should have children, I think I warned him to sit down as I thought the shock of my change of heart might be too much for him. I should not have been so worried, he took it in stride and in his usual unflappable manner, replied "really?"
So this lengthy diatribe was inspired by a thought I had the other day. I was busy cleaning the boogers out of Sophia's nose after realizing that just moments before I had been kissing her proffered sticky fingers while she had been eating. Those same little fingers that very likely had been up her nose full of boogers minutes before. Then I went and changed her fourth poopy diaper of the day. And some time between the fingers and the diaper, I realized "wait, what on earth has happened to me?" I was unfazed by the boogers or the poop. I don't mind her sticky fingers and I am unbothered by her screams. *****OK, I do have to admit here that she does have one type of scream that does get under my skin. It is so loud and blood curdling that, in my opinion, it holds all the charm of nails on a chalkboard.*****Aside from that particular scream, I really don't mind any of it.
She has become very talkative lately and I just could spend hours listening to her babble and discourse about 'who knows what'.....***wait, I actually do listen to her for hours, so I guess I can take out the "I could" part, because I already do. The key here is that I love it. I love her, I love how she has changed me and brought me closer to Colin. I love watching her play with my Mom who has this little girl so charmed that she literally squeals and jumps when my Mom enters a room.
It is not all wonderful and sweet. Parenthood is hard sometimes and there are moments when I hope that I really am up for the job. Having said all that, I know that, although being a parent involves sacrifices, I do not feel like a martyr. Sophia is a joy, mixed in with some frustration, stress, worry and even a little anger at times. But more than anything, I just look at her and feel this indescribable sense of love.
My heart aches for Colin who would like nothing more than to be with his family. This week he ended up on the road for over five days. While he loved hearing his daughter laugh on speaker phone (Nana was making silly faces), he misses Sophia terribly and fears her reaction of his long absence. He really has nothing to fear. When we got our referral, we sent the orphanage a photo album with pictures of our family to be given to Sophia. It was returned to us on Gotcha Day and is still one of her favorite toys. Today I found her tracing the outline of her Dad's face and I know that she misses him and will be overjoyed to see him.
But I digress. The headline of the post was titled "who knew?" It sure wasn't me. I never knew that I liked little girls with sticky fingers, boogers, poopy diapers, giggles, smiles, and a whole lot of love to give. I didn't, but I sure do now :)