Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in Eat Pray Love that she never dreamed of being a mother. In fact, she had a box hidden under her bed that was filled with maps, collected National Geographic articles, and clippings from the NYT Travel section. I could related. I have a serious case of wander-lust, too. It began in my teen years when my family traveled constently and peaked in my late twenties when I traveled across Europe, on a solo trek, hitting all the places that I had ever dreamt of seeing. However, unlike Gilbert, I also wanted to have a child. To say the least, since I became a mother in August, I've had this one scene in particular haunt me...the scene in Eat Pray Love where Gilbert watches the new mother trying to be it all, party host, wife, friend, while breastmilk leaked out through her cocktail dress. It was a moment that Gilbert wanted to escape from. Shortly afterward, Gilbert called it quits on her marriage and left the country in a blaze. That scene always left me wondering...had I also fallen prey to convention?
Last night, I was tested. I met up with another new mother and we sat down to have coffee for a couple of hours. The feat itself felt strangely tremendous. I was exhausted from mixing up our meet-up location, pushing a stroller, and then the icing on the cake...my beautiful little girl pooped on me in public! I'm a tough girl so I found it funny and let it go. By the end of our time, I was soaked in baby spit-up, poop, and my breastmilk had accidentally leaked out while feeding and soaked my shirt. This was a first, I'm sure, in many messy times to come. My friend said to me, "Welcome to Motherhood."
The truth is that as much I awaited that fate of being like that new mom in Gilbert's book and not having the choice to escape it, I found myself strangely embracing it all. I don't need a walk down a Parisian street to feel free. I actually want ties. I want to be connected to friends, family, and that might include getting pooped on from time to time. Even now, listening to the laughter of my daughter, I find all the gratitude that I am lucky enough to be living this life. In a few years, I can't wait to hold my daughter's hand as we cross a bridge over the Seine River or toss coins into a water fountain in Rome.