Suburban Snapshots

I Was More Smug Before
a Person Came Out of Me

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I used to be impermeable to the cloying, sappy lyrics of popular country songs. I used to be smug about morning news showings of the typical feel-good tearjerking clip, or heartwarming miracle pet stories. I never, ever watched childbirth documentaries on cable channels I didn't have, and ugly news items were just more fear mongering for higher ratings.

And then this tiny female human squeezed her way into the world, and everything went awry.

After Anna, I still recognized that the lyrics to "I Saw God Today" were targeted toward new parents like me, written to sell us iTunes downloads and CDs, yet I'd sit there in my car without changing the station, bawling as hard as the hungry 2-week-old behind me in her infant carrier. It was a weird sort of internal conflict.

When Anna was still tiny we rented Knocked Up, and if you haven't seen the part where the fakest baby ever emerges from the fakest vagina ever, then maybe you'll think I'm slightly less lame for stifling sobs when it happened at the end of the movie. What had I become?

I cry watching television characters getting ultrasounds, I cry rivers watching YouTube videos where kids fighting cancer sing along to Kelly Clarkson (I actually can't even listen to the song anymore without bawling — true story.), or dogs reunite with soldiers returning from duty. Today as I sat through a kindergarten "graduation" ceremony that my pre-procreative self might have dismissed as gratuitous, I barely contained the waterworks during a photo slideshow featuring narration by the children of complete strangers.

Next Wednesday Anna has her own moving up ceremony at school. She'll be going from the classroom at one end of the building to a new one, about 50 feet down the hall. Most of her classmates will go with her. Yawn, right? But this is her last room before kindergarten, one more year with these familiar faces in this basement daycare that smells of olive oil and diapers. Over the past few weeks she's muttered lines from the poem her class will recite, it's something about "I am somebody." My professional critique of the chosen materials is Oh God, I am going to fucking lose it. 

Parenthood is a strange new world of surfaced emotions, unique sets of worries, milestones that seem as big as the moon landing. It's true, I cry easier — admittedly sometimes at really stupid shit — but I'm learning to think less about it, to relinquish my old cynicism and adopt a new code of smugness.

I don't cry more now because motherhood has made me a sucker, but because motherhood has made me so much wiser.

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