**One might think that this post might have been more apropos on or before Mother’s Day and again I remind one that I am a maverick. So there.
You never really know what it means to be a mother until you are one.
I’d heard that phrase about a jillion times before I was a parent and it drove me nuts. It drove me even more nuts after I became a mother and learned that it was true. Until you look into your baby’s beautiful eyes or have your daughter wrap her tiny little hand around your finger, it’s impossible to understand what you are willing to go through to love, protect and nurture the tiny little life you hold in your arms.
Of course, there is another facet to that statement. Before I had children, I looked down from my ivory tower at the bedraggled and scattered parents of young children with a mixture of perplexity and disdain. Yeah, maybe they did have a toddler, but they had to pass a mirror somewhere on the way out of the house! It only takes a second to notice a different earring in each ear. If someone happened to look down at any point during the day, surely they would see the spit up on their chest. Heavens to Betsy!
A peek into my closet B.C. and A.C. (before and after children) helps to underscore my cluelessness. B.C.: There were fancy suits as far as the eye could see—linen, silk and wool impeccably tailored and in outstanding condition. Strappy and flowing cocktail dresses nestled in between the suits. The shoes...oh mercy...the shoes: Killer heels—spikes, wedges, platforms...
A.C.: Comfy knit coordinates mostly found in the pages of the Coldwater Creek catalog. The ones with scarves wrapped around the hooks are stained, but coverable with the careful draping of accessories. Buttons are loose or missing. Hems are partially torn out, strings that capture the fascination of my Chihuahua dangle from the sleeves and skirts. The shoes...oh mercy...the shoes: A garden variety of scuffed and sensible flats, sneakers, flip-flops...
I even had a flat iron and a thousand different unctions, lotions and potions for my hair. Today, I have air-dried natural frizz and I consider it a good day if I get to run a brush through it.
When I returned to work after having Baby Belle 1, one of the first things I had to do was defend in a probable cause hearing regarding an alleged a sexual assault involving kids too young to even know what sex was, much less put the notion to the test. It was stressful enough to have to leave my daughter for the first time, but adding the pressure of a hearing like that into the mix was insane.
It was a hard fought battle, but the judge ultimately found in favor of my client. I arrived at my office fresh off of my victory and ran to the potty to wash the courthouse germs off of my hands. As I scrubbed vigorously at the sink, I happened to look at my bedraggled reflection in the mirror and gasped in shock and horror. I had strained carrots all over the shoulder of my light blue suit jacket. I’d just argued with dignity and sincerity as to the lack of probable cause in my case and I’d done it adorned with baby carrots that had been returned to sender.
Humbling to put it mildly.
One would hope that I would have gotten more into the groove of things once we all settled down and hammered out a routine, but then I realized that babies don’t give a crap about whether or not you have a routine. Actually, when it comes to Baby Belle 1, I honestly think that she makes it her mission in life to obliterate even the slightest attempt at any schedule she can sniff out.
Trust me, I would love nothing more than to attribute my continuing breakdown of personal cohesion on the arrival of my adorable Baby Belle 2, but the truth is that I was done in way before then. The only difference is that—during those in-between years—I worried about the fact that I looked like crap. After Baby Belle 2 hit the scene, I no longer give a crap if I look like crap. If I am completely clothed and not dirty to the point of smelling bad, it’s aces all around.
Just to show you what my “image” has become now that I am a mother: We were all milling around in the kitchen after work and school last week when my husband noticed that Baby Belle 2 had snot streaming out of her nose. (Too much information? Tough turkey.) He told BB2 that she needed to wipe her nose and I can only presume that he intended for her to wipe her nose with a tissue from any number of Kleenex boxes strewn around our house. Without missing a beat, Baby Belle 2 walked over to me, picked up my skirt and did a very nice job wiping her nose.
So yes, dear client, your attorney is wearing one black shoe and one navy shoe. She has one earring on and one earring off. Odds are that was a booger you saw in her hair the other day, but the good news is that it probably wasn’t hers. You probably don’t want to know what that stain is on her sleeve. Yes, she did have to go back to the firm twice for the same forgotten file and those are crayons and a Chutes and Ladders under the shelf of the North Carolina Crimes Handbook in her office.