Life, the maturation process that we each are embarked on, can make two people who have moved from parallel to perpendicular paths feel derailed and untethered when they suddenly intersect. That is how I felt when I ran into a friend of erica's yesterday. Actually, we kind of literally ran into one another when Elias ran into her shopping cart in the grocery store. There were the usual, "look how big your kids are now!" and "how are you doing?" and then there was this, "so...you stay home with them now." An observation, not a question. Suddenly I'm conscious of my dirty hair stuffed under a beanie and my splotchy face, sans makeup, and my 4-year-old sweater, and my jeans that are the wrong size now. Of course she knows I'm a stay-at-home mom now. There's no hiding it today.
"Yeah!" I said, way too brightly. I prattled on about the privilege of vocational motherhood and why I'm passionate about it, feeling the heat rise in my ears as I try desperately to control my 2-year-old by holding onto the hood of his sweatshirt. Finally, when Elias starts running tiny circles so the hood bunches in my grip and he goes careening into the paths of annoyed shoppers, she states graciously (and was that pity on her face?) that she'll "let me go," and we part ways.
Yuck! I wanted to yell after her that I'm a better person now, even if I do look like I just climbed out of a garbage disposal! I wanted to convince her that the cracker crumbs that never leave the bottom of my purse do not define my state of being. I desperately wanted to articulate to this girl that my world has been changed for the better because two of the most incredible little spirits on the planet were given to me for safekeeping for a while. I wanted her to envy me the way I envied her in that moment. That moment where she stood a single, working girl, in her super-cute platform shoes and perfectly flat-ironed hair. With her pink iPhone cover and her snot-free shirt.
After that wave of awkward, misplaced jealousy, I came to this conclusion: erica was her; Erica isn't erica anymore. Meaning, that while I do miss elements of life as erica, there is no going back. I would never want to go back. Aside from the obvious absence of my boys, I would never want to go back in time as earlier versions of myself in any form because that's not living. I have a new respect for aging as I have come to respect this newly new me, because I figure if I can feel this transformed in a matter of 30 months, then I'm gonna be a damn fine person in 30 years. Circumstance, Elias, Maddox, Logan, family, friends, tragedy, blessing, experience, the Creator and created will all see to that, right? I'm excited to keep discovering new Ericas.
...if only erica's friend knew what she's missing...
I pray that something (if not children) is transforming her into a better version of herself the way that my kids are perpetually transforming me. Maybe if I wasn't so hung up on how out of place our old relationship felt in my new life scenario I could have asked her about hers. Turns out Erica still has a lot of transforming to do.