I’m not the biggest fan of the term “children of divorce.” As a kid it made me feel like I was part of some kind of gang of lost boys, about to fly away to an island in the sky where adult troubles could no longer touch us. The flying was the only part of that scenario I enjoyed thinking about.
Children of divorce are said to grow up faster than they would if not faced with such earth-shattering adult drama at an early age. As a “child of divorce,” I can attest to the claims. I was in the second grade; in that one year it felt like I aged five. I too have from time to time felt inexplicably more grown up than some of my friends – yet that never stopped me from acting a foolish teenager like the wildest of them.
I do think I grew up in many ways when my parents divorced, but I remained a child. The second time I grew up before my time was quite different. I aged at least ten years when I was just shy of 21, the night I learned there was another life growing inside of me.
The world shifted in my eyes that night. The minor problems of yesterday were swept away and replaced with the mountainous obstacles of tomorrow, and nothing was ever as it had been before. From that moment on I was changed, another person entirely.
I was a mom.
Before that night I worried about not having enough money for myself – for gas, cigarettes and chip-ins for the next party. Suddenly I was worried about not having enough money for diapers or Christmas presents or college tuition, for someone else. I felt suddenly far older than my 21 years. It was a feeling that would stick around.
Pre-pregnancy, I was as irresponsible as any teenager on the cusp of their twenties could possibly be. After that night those two pink lines appeared – dark, immediate, and unwavering – I was responsible in ways I hadn’t known I was capable of before.
That night I grew up.
I did it because I had to, because what was coming would be hard. I knew even then that it would be the hardest thing I’d ever do, and I’m still learning just how hard that can be. Yet it is also the greatest thing I have ever done, the very best thing that could’ve ever happened to me.
My worries became more grown-up, but the same could be said about my joys. I experienced a love that can really only be understood by another parent, someone who has also created a small version of themselves inside of them and witnessed that child take their first breath. Someone who has experienced the redefinition of the word love, a love so strong it can’t possibly be explained unless you’ve felt it yourself.
Becoming a mother may have made me grow up before my time, but it also made me a better version of myself. It made me forgive things I’d held on to for too long and healed me in ways I didn’t know I could even be healed. It taught me patience, and the power of my inner strength. It helped me to understand there are things that just aren’t worth getting upset over, battles that don’t need to be picked.
Back when I started college, I never imagined that by my graduation day I would be walking to the stage with my daughter’s shouts of “yay Mommy” echoing in my ears. How young I was then, so carefree.
I stopped being a child the moment I became a mother.
It forced me to grow up young, but in all the most wonderful ways. I wouldn’t give up any of my motherhood worries for all the irresponsible shenanigans in the world.