There’s a very clear divide in my life — before I became a mom, and after I became one.
Before: I never cared for kids. I hated babysitting when I was young, despite my obsession with The Baby-Sitters Club book series, and as I grew older and got married, I viewed children as a stumbling block to independence and all my friends being fun people. Nieces and nephews were somewhat of an exception, but I still preferred to talk about almost anything and anyone else.
“Oh, it’ll change when you have your own,” everyone told me. “You love your own kids even if you don’t like others’.” I did want my own, but parenthood was something for down the road (if I was fortunate).
After: These days, I feel myself becoming tearful when my 2-year-old daughter watches Moana from her namesake movie, or points out a plane in the sky, or picks up a rock from our backyard and says with wonder, “rock!” — her eyes wide and a look of awe on her face.
It’s an odd thing, but having a child softened me in a way I never expected. I once was attempting to explain this tectonic shift inside me to a friend (yes, I was teary-eyed at the time, too), and despite not having any kids herself at the time, she summed it up perfectly: “You see the child in everyone.” It certainly adds a layer of humanity to consider that people I pass on the streets were once 2 years old and amazed by the simplest things. Recalling this doesn’t work every time I feel frustration with other human beings, but I still like to think I’m half a second more patient with my fellow mankind post becoming a mom.
I’m also hyper aware now of the patience others give me as a mother with a toddler wandering around in the background of many interviews. Just the other month, when I was up to my elbows in research and conversations about a Tahoe-Truckee Sanitation Agency/Truckee Tahoe Airport District land swap, I had airport board member David Diamond in the Moonshine office. Daycare had fallen through, so my daughter was taking laps around the office while David and I chatted. When she came up to start babbling something, he stopped mid-sentence, turned to her, and leaned forward to listen to her nonsensical words. “This is way more important,” he told me.
And then I consider that toddlers can grow up to become movers and shakers in the world, even at a young age, like Tahoe Expedition Academy senior Summer LaFleur who wanted to make change and did so with her Banned Book Bus. Or LaFleur’s friend, Nico Bolen, who’s helped create The Aspen Collective, a teen-led organization working to bring alternative arts and music to the Truckee/Tahoe region (Bolen wrote about it as a My Shot last month). These teenagers are a decade and a half removed from my daughter, but they’re making younger Alex put her money where her mouth is.
I wish I didn’t have to become a mom to adopt this new perspective, but I got here eventually. Needless to say, I’ve become much more of a kids-person now.