I watched him, church tee and boxer clad, carrying our flailing four-year-old up the stairs. Our eyes met for a second and I saw a flash of his past life: designer jeans, guitar and perfect hair. And I thought, “Man, we used to be so cool.”
Now, in all honesty, I was never really cool. But “cool” is relative when “freedom” is concerned. So many times my husband and I pause, drinking in our reality with an edge of incredulity. Recently we went on one of my guy’s “Let’s get out of the house. This will be fun family time,” notions (something I love about him). Twenty minutes in he looks at me and says, over the screaming baby, “This is not fun.”
I mean, sure, as parents we still stay up until 4am and wake up at 7am for the day. We binge-watch TV (I have seen EVERY episode of Daniel Tiger, ad nauseam.) We crank tunes and cruise for hours in our car (drowning out tantrums and extending naps). But things change. Drum cases become tables for Fruit-Loops and morning cartoons. Old band t-shirts no longer carry the stink of screaming, sweaty crowds and spilled energy drinks, but spit-up and snot streaks. Your calls to your girlfriends will now involve horror stories of infants discovering diaper tabs during nap time instead of bad first dates.
My “cool” days are over. My ability to relate to a younger generation without inadvertently throwing in booger references is long gone. And my desire to wear anything but black yoga pants in public is a dream of the past (I might add a necklace or some eye shadow if it’s date night). However, I am not grieving my loss of “cool”, but find myself celebrating it. I wouldn’t trade the giggles of slipping out of church after my newborn has wrecked my shirt with her “poo-splosion”. I wouldn’t go back to a time where tiny feet and sweaty heads weren’t pressed against my face in wee morning hours. I could never trade the wrinkles, rolls and stretch marks for the trim, unmarred body of my younger self. With each white hair I will celebrate that in my new-found lameness I am learning to love. To love desperately and selflessly, to release my need for put-togetherness for the sake of joy. I am learning to laugh genuinely and loudly at my short-comings and celebrate tiny victories. My freedom today looks wildly different from the care-free days of my youth. In it I am finding that digging down deep into the temporary messiness of grace is to live in reckless abandon to eternity. My youth twinkles in the eyes of my children as they dance and twirl, and I will join them as if it is still in me, so that they will see that cool is relative, but joy is everlasting.
And when it is all said and done, whether they are moms or missionaries, CEO’s or burger-flippers, I will measure my success in their ability to love deeply. I will run this race of exhaustion and endless laundry with gusto in hopes that they will see that “cool” is fleeting, but that in the Lord all things are awesome.
So if you are a new parent, and find yourself mourning who you once were, I leave you with the wise words of one Daniel Tiger: “It’s ok to feel sad sometimes. Little by little, you’ll feel better again.” And you will. This parenting thing is actually pretty rad…once you get past all the poo.