As our friends—whose daughter and grandchild had recently moved in with them—remarked how carefree and easy our lives appeared to be, my husband and I exchanged knowing glances. What they didn't know was that Mark and I had just completed our initial adoption application. Sixteen months later, I celebrated my 50th birthday—and became a mother for the first time. As I look back, I can't help but notice the many changes that have taken place.
Before I became a mom, I began my day with a hot cup of coffee and the morning paper before settling down at my computer at 8 a.m. to start my workday as a college professor. On weekends, Mark and I lounged around in our PJs a while longer, lingering over breakfast before starting our chores.
Motherhood has changed all that. Our daughter, Abby, is an early riser. Weekdays and weekends are no different for her. We are usually up by 6:45 a.m. Instead of savoring my morning coffee, I now often concoct a make-believe breakfast with Abby in her play kitchen. Instead of reading the morning newspaper, I sit with Abby at the kitchen table as she ponders a carton of yogurt. "Mom," she says. "Why is my yogurt pink? Where does yogurt come from? Cats don't eat yogurt." I am truly in awe of how she has mastered a new language.
Before I became a mom, I had lots of time to sort through cookbooks and try interesting new recipes. Now I spend time cooking with Abby, whose favorite ingredient is food coloring, and we proudly serve orange and blue pancakes to her dad on Saturday mornings.
Before I became a mom, Mark and I went to movies and concerts on a regular basis. Now, instead of attending concerts, we create our own musical extravaganzas. Abby enthusiastically leads Mark and me through every room of our house, tooting kazoos.
Before I became a mom, Mark and I saved monthly in a travel account, which enabled us to take great vacations. Our travel account has become an education account, and, instead of faraway places, we've discovered the best playgrounds in our neighborhood. We hold family memberships to our local zoo and science museum, and know which bookstore has the best story hour. Through the eyes of my daughter, I am fortunate to experience childhood again.
Before I became a mom, Mark and I spent our evenings together talking, reading, or watching a little TV. Now, after giving Abby her bath, we lie down in bed together for a story...or two...or three. Sometimes I struggle to hold back tears of joy when I look down at Abby, curled up in my arms. "Hold me," she says as she grabs my arms, wraps them around her, and gently falls asleep. Sometimes I fall asleep, too.
Do I miss my old life? In some ways, yes. But I wouldn't trade my life now for anything. I can still remember the exact moment two years ago when this child was placed in my arms. Abby was scared, and I felt overcome by the emotions of the moment. We both cried.
Now this beautiful little girl calls me Mommy. She squeals with delight and smiles ear-to-ear when I come home at the end of the workday. She wraps her legs around my waist and her arms around my neck, squeezing hard and proclaiming "Mommy."
A few weeks ago, at work, I spent some time chatting with a colleague about Abby and motherhood. As our conversation came to a close, she asked, "Did you ever think you could love a child this much?"
"Yes," I said without hesitating. "I have always known I was capable of giving this much love. What I didn't know is that a child could love me this much."
This article reprinted with permission from Holt International magazine.
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