I was reading my buzzillionth (yes, that's right, one of a buzzillion) parenting books yesterday and it had this questionnaire to see if you were a "normal" parent...or something like that anyway. Sometimes I don't pay too much attention. Anyway, one question I read kind of got me thinking. It was this: "Is parenting what you expected it to be?" And my first thought, of course, is, "Du-uh, no. Of course it is waaay harder, everyone knows that. And of course my life for the past 3 years has been filled with 'I had no idea that such 'n such was gonna be like this'". And so on and so forth. But after about half a second, I realized what really struck me about this question. For me, I just had no idea how much growing up I had ahead of me. And I am not talking about growing in height because I was already 38 when I had my daughter and now I'm 41 and I'm pretty sure I'm not getting any taller. I think the most challenging part for me is unlearning a lot of the stuff that used to matter to me and is just not going to work for me anymore. And that is not easy. No. Especially for someone like me. When I learn something my brain hardcodes it into my very being. Kind of like when my daughter decided two weeks ago that we were going to move the kitchen trash can to a new place in the kitchen. Two weeks later, I am still going to where the trash used to live to throw things away. It is just hardwired into the trash circuits in my brain. It has been two whole weeks and I can't even reprogram that one little part of my brain that has been trained to throw trash out on that side of the kitchen.
But I know there is hope for me because I keep seeing signs of progress. I mean, I still can't find the trash can. But sometimes I will recognize an empathetic smile another Mom gives me and it lifts me up. Or maybe sharing a laugh with another Mom, somehow reassures us both.
The possibilities of growth are infinite, whether you are 3 or 41.