“It'll get better,” the stranger said, punctuating his insightful comment with that know-it-all belly laugh that indicated he knew exactly zilch, “in about 18 years!” His laugh crescendoed, then faded into the distance as he walked away shaking his head, still snickering at his own joke.
I looked into the two-week old face of my daughter Trellace sheltered as she was by a tiny pink bonnet and a dainty lace shawl. Her chocolate brown eyes looked back at me, fluttering curly lashes three sizes too big. Better than this? Impossible.
He was confused, that stranger. Maybe he thought I resented rather than relished the neediness of my newborn. He might have thought I had postpartum depression, not the postpartum elation that really kept me up at night gazing into the bassinet, awed by the gift of this child.
Yet in a way—a sort of accidental way—my cackling advisor was right. Parenthood has gotten better. Because every day, the blessing has gotten more amazing; and every day I am more humbled by the beauty of it.
It got better the first time Trellace smiled at me and the first time she laughed. Actually, all the firsts grew the gift: the first hug, the first time she said “Ma-Ma,” the first steps, the first conversation. The newness of those moments have made parenting fresh again and better—surprisingly, impossibly, better.
Now Trellace is 15, has her driver’s permit, and receives mail from potential colleges every week. She never wears a pink bonnet (though she does wear her tennis visor well), and now those chocolate brownies look at me incredulously far more often than adoringly.
And yet, it is better. Different, sure. But better, too. Better because I know Trellace better now than I did in those first moments of her life. Better because I know me better and hopefully have gotten a little more skilled at this parenting gig over the years. Better because as Trellace has grown past toddlerhood and preschool, past the elementary days and the middle school years, our relationship has grown as well.
Now, we like the same movies. Now, we have inside jokes; we laugh together. Now, Trellace knows things I don't, so I learn from her. Now, we can be quiet together and that’s okay.
All of this has caught me totally by surprise, because I loved the baby days—cooing, crawling, cuddling. And the preschool years—oh how sweet the preschool years were, punctuated daily by gargantuan delights in infinitesimal joys. Then of course the elementary school days—loved those: field trips, classroom parties, special new friends. With Trellace, even middle school was fun, because she really came into herself then. In fact, at every stage, I've thought, Better than this? Impossible!
So now when I see a new mom cradling an infant, I can look into her eyes and say, “You know what? It will get better. Really! As wonderful as this minute is? It gets even better.”
Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.
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