When I was young, I never imagined myself becoming a parent. I couldn’t ever imagine being called “Mom”. (Blech – can my kids call me Erin?)
If someone had asked if I wanted to have kids some day, they would have heard a resounding “NO!” Thinking about it would trigger a fight or flight response that was geared heavily toward flight. I imagined myself as not liking kids, when in reality I was only scared that I didn’t have the necessary skills to please them and teach them. At the time, I probably didn’t. I couldn’t see past my fear to realize there is a tremendous joy that can come from raising children. All I could foresee was pain (physical and psychological pain) and limitations.
In 2003, when I was in college, my best friend (more of a sister now than a friend, really) had her first baby. Watching her struggle to finish high school and her college degree, all while raising her daughter by herself with an amazing amount of patience and love, made me realize that having kids wasn’t the end of the world. Life didn’t end; it simply transformed into something different. Something scary, yes, but something that I could see might have the potential to be very rewarding. In the far, far, way distant future. Far far far distant, not even remotely near, capital-F, Future.
Annnnd, we all know how that went. Two seconds later, I was pregnant.
James was born in 2005 and that’s when I experienced true love for the first time.
Of course, I love and adore my husband (then-boyfriend). I love my parents. I love my friends. I love my cat. I love pretzels dipped in chocolate. But, it’s not the same as the gut-wrenching, fever-inducing, endorphin-releasing love that one feels the first time they hold their little baby in their arms.
So how do you measure love? Well, it isn’t a thing to be measured or contained, but if I could measure love it would have to be by the time I spend with my babies.
My name is Erin, and I’m addicted to love. I’ve been high on it for 6 years now without pause. Every time I see my son come off the bus from school, Love swallows me whole. Every time Julia’s little knees dig into my back at night, Love swallows me whole; Every time Josie gives me her trademark grin; Every time they dress each other up in ridiculous costumes; Every time they fall asleep on the couch in contorted positions; Every time they draw “tattoos” on each other with markers, Love swallows me whole. I have been permanently and completely altered.