Growing up, I never wanted kids. Like, at all.
The weird thing is, I always loved kids! Summers spent at the pool always found my best friend and me taking care of her little brother and sisters and the various other smaller children found in the shallow end. We loved it.
But I never wanted my own.
I always babysat. There were families for whom I babysat that I still love today, families who weren't related to me but by now feel like they are. It was a great gig for me, the girl who loved kids. I got to play with kids, play with their toys, and I got paid to do it.
Seriously. It was the best job ever.
But I was always happy to give the children back at the end of the day. Always. No matter how much I loved them, I was always happy to go home and not have to play with kids, to not have to cook for them and clean up after them. I always appreciated the amount of work kids entail, and I always appreciated my down time.
That's when I met a particular family, with a particularly sweet little boy who stole my heart (and let's be honest...even though he's old and in high school now, there's still a part of my heart that's forever his).
I remember going to his house, and he was always so happy to see me! His mom would leave and we'd play with Play Doh, we'd crash his cars, we'd run around and do cartwheels outside, and I'd think, "Man, this kid really loves me, and I really love him. This is so cool!"
But then came the inevitable moment: his mom (who I loved just as much - dad, too - they were just that kind of a family) would come home, and something would change in the little boy's face, in his entire being. While we played he'd be having fun, but as soon as his mom came home, something shifted. Something relaxed. It was as if the show he'd be putting on for me could finally end because, oh, thank goodness, Mom was home. Hooray for Mom! Mom makes everything...not better, no, because things were already pretty good when it was just the two of us playing...but...for that little boy, Mom was home. She made home for him.
I remember, in those moments, knowing nothing could ever be better than to be a mom and to have a sweet little kid love you so much. And to love a sweet little kid so much.
Those were the first moments I ever even considered having a kid of my own.
Flash forward more years than I'm going to admit (I'm still 29, right?!?!?). I've got a kid of my own, and I love her more than I ever imagined possible...because that's what happens, right? And we've spent the WHOLE summer side-by-side, rarely being out of each other's sight for more than an hour or two. So we're pretty tight...and I'm pretty exhausted and ready for some time to myself again.
Last night Zoe was having a sleepover with her NaNa so Charles and I could finally go see Guardians of the Galaxy (and also because Zoe LOVES sleepovers with her NaNa, and NaNa LOVES sleepovers with her Zoe). All was going great. She's had a bazillion sleepovers there, and we've never had a problem.
Until last night.
As the movie was nearing the closing credits, my phone rang. It was NaNa. I suddenly became that obnoxious girl, answering my phone in the crowded movie theater, stage-whispering until I reached the hallway.
It seemed Zoe had something in her eye at bedtime, and now she couldn't sleep.
She got on the phone and immediately started crying. And not just any crying. It was that desperate, choking, hiccuping kind of crying. The kind that breaks your heart.
It only took a second before I agreed to come get her.
So off we drove, 35 minutes across a flooded downtown, to the other side of Charleston to get her. And as soon as we walked into the room where she lay, sleepy and sniffly and blanketed on the couch, I saw it.
She relaxed. She sighed. She was suddenly confident that everything was right in the world because Mom - ME - and Dad - CHARLES - were there!
Don't get me wrong. Things with NaNa were good. They were great, in fact. So great Zoe somehow conned NaNa and our aunt into contributing $40 to Zoe's American Girl Doll fund.
But when Charles and I walked in....just like when my friend would come home when I was babysitting her little boy....things were suddenly right again.
So yeah. That was nice. This whole parenting thing is....
Can someone please pass the coffee? I was up a bit late last night.