When you become a parent something magical happens, and I’m not just referring to the miracle of life. It's almost as if having a child has the power to transform one from an untamed youth into a beautiful [mommy] butterfly.
In my early twenties, the world was my stage, and the night my refuge; I lived for the moment. My friends could always count on me for an unexpected adventure complete with to-be-expected shock and awe. I was invincible! At least, that’s what my state of mind led me to believe. Perhaps I drank too much, partied too hard and got too many spur-of-the-moment tattoos, but I always had a good time.
I was young, wild and free.
Having sidekicks who indulged my whims only made the experiences more memorable. As they say, life is more fun with friends, and we had almost too much of it. Heavily influenced by the shenaningans in 'Sex and the City,' we were recklessly and unapologetically living our best lives.
Then, my inner circle of nightcrawlers began to dwindle slowly, as, one by one, they started getting married and having babies. I was losing my comrades-in-crime to parental obligation. Working 40 hours a week and coming home to raise children (and husbands) left each of my girlfriends with two full time jobs. There was very little time in their days, and when schedules did permit, they were all "too tired" or "too busy" to actually want to go anywhere or do anything. To them, a good time now consisted of sitting on the couch in sweats, ordering delivery pizza and binge watching Netflix.
Motherhood had sucked the life-of-the-party out of them.
What baffled me, though, was that they were all so happy and content. They didn’t seem to miss the old days at all.
I didn’t get it.
The truth was staring me in the face: 'Girls nights' are now a thing of the past. They died a slow and painful death… along with smokey eyes, cocktail dresses and high heels.
Though resisting at first, I eventually settled into my new normal. I accepted the reality that I was getting older. I didn’t want new friends, the ones I already had were pretty spectacular. And so, karaoke nights were gradually replaced with coffee mornings and community craft fairs. Dinosaur birthday parties took precedence over spontaneous vacations, and putting on makeup to go to Costco was something to look forward to.
The irony is, over time, I began to like it.
When Eric and the girls came into my life I was already in the midst of adulting by default. I think of the in-between as the limbo necessary for me to become the right me at the right time. I had a lot of growing up to do. Back then, I wasn’t selfless enough to take on an instant family 'just add water.'
By the time our paths did cross, I had finally matured. I was much more responsible, and far less impulsive. I no longer exuded the attention seeking behavior that once made me a notorious party favor.
Though I’ll admit that I’m still a work in progress, 'Step-Mommy Ashley' is much more refined, and my once insatiable appetite for exhilarating escapades has been vanquished by a different kind of lifestyle that, to the untrained eye, probably seems monotonous and boring. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I wouldn’t trade making paper fortune tellers and playing M.A.S.H. over deep fried 'chicken nuggies' for anything in the world.
'Hot-buttered-popcorn' movie nights, board games and helping with homework are my most treasured extracurriculars. A carpool of screeching adolescents arguing about which 'One Direction' boy they are going to marry is incredibly entertaining. Cooking three separate dinners, for three picky eaters, is incessantly rewarded with giggle filled table talk. At living room dance parties I'm not scrutinized for my skills (or lack thereof). Over-under betting has transitioned to report card bribery, though less of a gamble and more of a surefire way to dwindle my life savings- NEVERunderestimate the will of a child who has cold hard cash at stake.
Yes, my days are less wild and free, but my heart is so incredibly full.
Now, I get it.
Crocs and yoga pants are way more comfortable than stilettos and skinny jeans, anyway.
~names have been changed to protect the innocent~