The Parental Looking-Glass

I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then - Lewis Carroll

Nearly two weeks after my 31st birthday I became a mother.  I believe that anyone who becomes a parent can clearly divide their life into two parts, the first section consisting of your life before children and the second, your life as a parent. There is nothing that compares to that moment when you meet your baby for the first time.  You hold a new life in your arms, your old life just drifts away and a new one begins.  From that moment on your perspective changes, our choices are no longer our own and our decisions bear twice the weight.

There are many roads that lead to parenthood: giving birth, adoption, surrogacy and fostering.  We each carve our own path and ultimately end up at the same destination – our own rebirth not only as an individual, but as a parent.  I find it fascinating that we are not merely bonding with our child and learning all about them, but in a way we are mirroring their maturation by experiencing our own path of growth and self-discovery.  Having a child can awaken parts of your spirit that have laid dormant since childhood or bring forth qualities in yourself you never even knew existed.

Since my daughter Lillie was born, the way I see myself and the world around me has changed.  Much like Alice, I feel as if I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole or am gazing with bewilderment into a looking glass only to discover a whole new way of life.

In the first year of life, your baby grows and develops their own personality. They become familiar with the world around them and begin to form words and mimic gestures.  It seems that overnight my daughter became acutely aware of my actions, big and small.  Whether I was brushing my hair or drinking my coffee, she wanted to be a part of it.  When she started eating solid foods, she extended her hand and wanted a bite of whatever I was eating.  When she began drinking from a cup she always needed to inspect my beverage to see if I would offer her a sip.  These developmental milestones made me reevaluate everything I was putting into my body, with good reason.  My new rule became if I wouldn’t feed it to my daughter then I wasn’t going to eat it myself.  It’s not the easiest rule to live by, but at least I’m becoming more aware of the everyday choices I’m making and in turn making healthier choices for Lillie.  I have yet to give up my coffee.  Don’t worry, she’s never had a sip, I drink it during nap time.

Being a parent also means being a teacher.  When you have a very young child who is just discovering the world around them this in itself can be a full time job.  Lillie is 16-months-old now and she spends much of her time exploring her world and asking, “What’s that?  What’s that?”  This means that much of my day is spent answering the only question she knows how to ask.  She is entranced watching birds fly across the sky, takes her time inspecting a single blade of grass and easily becomes enamored with bulging tree stumps and rocks of all shapes and sizes.  She loves the world around her, finding beauty and showing interest in the everyday things that I can very easily ignore.  I love watching her learn about the world that surrounds her, but I also take pleasure in all that she’s teaching me along the way.

Having a child can most definitely turn your whole world as you know it into a topsy-turvy wonderland.  In the past 16 months my life has been changed for the better.  There is much joy in having a child; I find so many reasons to smile everyday and I laugh harder and more often than I ever have before.  Most importantly, I love.  I love in a way that I’ve never, ever loved before.  It’s a beautiful thing.  I really can’t go back to yesterday.  I have no interest, I’m having too much fun chasing the white rabbit….aka Lillie!

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