I will never forget the September day that my grandfather held my daughter for the first time. His 69 year-old worn hands cradling her tiny 20 day-old body. The oldest and the newest. Each wearing icy blue eyes, dimpled chins, and not a lot of hair atop their heads.
With unsolicited, and somewhat embarrassing hormonal tears filling my eyes, I asked him,
"Grandpa, do you know how long I have waited for this?"
He kind of chuckled to himself, probably realizing how ridiculous it was for a twenty-one year-old to be asking such a question.
I did not really know how long I actually had been waiting for this, and what I wanted to say was a bit melodramatic, but as soon as the words came out of my mouth, I knew that they were true.
"My entire life."
Without skipping a beat, he looked down at her, back up at me, then matter-of-factly replied,
And just like that, I saw a circle come full. One end meeting the other.
As a girl, motherhood was a dream to me. That nurturing instinct was always a part of me. Sometimes, I would sneak eggs from the refrigerator and warm them under my pillow hoping they would hatch eventually. (They didn't.) My mother had an in-home day care and the opportunity to play with live dolls was abundant. Babies fascinated me. I thrived off of the idea of parenthood.
At fifteen, I fell hard and fast for some handsome punk kid, and we were wed just three years after that when it was legal for us to do so. A couple of years into our marriage, my heart longed for the next step. A baby. But it felt wrong because society told me I had not checked enough boxes to justify this desire.
Travel! Get your education! Land your dream job! Buy a house! Have a baby when you're older! When you're ready! More experienced!
The older I got, the heavier these expectations grew. All of these things are good things. All of these important things. Things that I respect and appreciate and strive for.
And so I traveled. I pursued my education. I tried to fill that space with the things the world deemed most important.
I worked hard to receive a college degree simultaneously with my high school diploma. By nineteen, I had seen corners of the world and delved into cultures most dream of. I've been beaded jewelry and loved on by the Navajo people of Southern Utah. I danced in the streets of Mississippi during Mardi Gras. I walked across the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Pacific North West. I breathed the air beneath the giant Redwoods of Northern California. I swam amongst sea turtles in Oahu, and spent a brisk summer in Anchorage. I walked across the busiest intersection in Shibuya, marveled at the magnificence that is Mount Fuji, and I fell in love on the shores of The East China Sea. I rode through the mountains of Southwestern Germany, and ate ham in The Black Forest. I tasted delicious croissants, cheese, and chocolates, and slept in a chateau in Paris. I climbed the Eiffel Tower, and stood in front of The Mona Lisa.
All of this a small feat on a large bucket list. All good things. All important things.
However, the song in my heart kept singing for Her.
After my daughter was born, everything made sense. I found purpose in her life. This girl has exposed the ugliest parts of me, and has motivated me to be better, more driven, and focused than I ever was before her eyes were set on me.
Do not get me wrong. My job is not glamorous. It is does not provide monetary wealth or promotions. I traded my twenties for days in and days out of channeling my energy into this tiny two foot, wild animal of a person. Doing tedious tasks like potty training, and removing food from every crevice of my home (so much food!). My days are now spent baby proofing and wiping faces and giving baths and kissing wounds and eating chocolate in secret and never sleeping. My yoga pants are smeared with banana, I am late to everything, and I am so. darn. tired, but I cannot get enough of this girl.
And at the risk of sounding like a 1950s housewife, this is enough for me. Because this is a lot bigger than the daily grind.
To me, being a mother means being blanketed in a love that is bigger than the Grand Canyon. A love deeper than The East China Sea. A love taller than the German mountains, and more magnificent than the Mona Lisa. Any other experience or opportunity in the world pales in comparison to the existence of my daughter.
There is nothing lackluster about this love.
My youth has not been robbed by motherhood. On the contrary, my innocence is burning like a wildfire through her. I get to grow up right alongside her. I do not know what would have been different had I waited a decade or so, but I would like to think the depth of the love that I feel for her would remain the same whether I was twenty-one or forty-one when we found each other.
And I may never put a tack in every place on the map, but instead I get to trace a spine that was hand sewn inside my very own body. I may never hold the position of CEO, but right now, I am learning to walk and speak and see the wonders of this world all over again through her. Everything new, everything magic, once again. I created a child with the man I love most, and now the entire world fits inside of my arms.
Not a day will be wasted while I am exhausting this love. Not a thing is more important to me than building this legacy. And some day, when my babies are grown and my house has fallen quiet, my worn hands will be cradling the newness of my great grand babies, and I will watch my very own circle come full.
One end meeting the other.