This evening was another mama's happy hour. The restaurant was dark and loud and full of people, all of whom looked childless. But that was probably because there were no kids out. The food was great, although it took forever. I guess you could say that the whole thing felt like the pre-baby days, in a way. It seemed like a world apart from my typical reality.
The conversation touched on family, life changes, raising babies and transitioning into motherhood. I met one of the mamas when we were both pregnant, due just two weeks apart. We'd get together with a handful of other ladies for mocktails and brunches, prenatal swim classes and long conversations about something we really knew nothing about: becoming mothers. The other two ladies have since joined our group, each of them with two small children at home getting snuggled into bed by their daddies. We certainly had enough to talk about to keep the conversation flowing.
We reflected on how different our lives were a year ago. How different our lives are than what we expected. How much harder it really is than what we expected.
Although this may sound silly, I really like hearing that from other new moms, especially new moms whose children don't have Down syndrome. It's nice to see how similar we really are. Sure, I know there are some differences. Our challenges may be a little different, but we are all challenged. And it's nice to recognize that.
But I think the most poignant moment occurred as I was walking to my car. Parked a few blocks away, I was excited to pop open my umbrella and make my way through the wind and the leaves plastered to the sidewalk as I walked under the streetlights. Feeling a thrill of what I can only really call freedom, it was a moment where I felt so definitively "me." That old friend, that "pre-baby me" was so independent. She thrived on having time alone, on walking down the street with her arms swinging, purpose in her step. And I felt that me as I walked down the street tonight. I felt the me not weighted down by a diaper bag, not slowed down by buckling a baby in the car seat and folding the stroller into the trunk. I felt that little lightning thrill of just walking down the street as myself, after having dinner with the girls, high on my escape from the responsibilities at home, if only for a couple short hours. Exhausted as I was from the events of the day and my ongoing sleep deprivation, I let myself enjoy that moment of feeling so singularly like myself.
But the other part of me got excited turning the key in the car. As I drove down the street I imagined the little almost 16 pound bundle of sweetness tucked into her bed. As I envisioned kissing those sweet little cheeks I started to smile.
And I was able to recognize me for the self that I am now. Still me. Still enjoying a few moments of independence. But still excited to get back home to my girl. Me as a Mom. I like it.