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Jill Patir Headshot

Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen

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JILL PATIR
Jill Patir

I sat across the table from my mom the other night at a local ice cream shop. The smile I had on my face was the complete opposite of the look she had on her face. By the look on her face, you would think my toddler had just taken a permanent marker to the Mona Lisa.

She hadn't. Not yet, at least, but I'll chalk that up to lack of opportunity based on her recent behavior.

No, she wasn't defacing a priceless work of art; she simply was dipping a napkin in her chocolate ice cream and then using it to paint my dress. Sticky, cold, wet ice cream dripped all over the bottom of my crisp, freshly-pressed dress. Before becoming a parent, this is the exact type of situation that I would've watched (with judging eyes) and cringed. I undoubtedly would've given a dirty look to the mother who was casually allowing this to happen, and would've confidently thought to myself my child will never do that to me, especially not in public.

Instead, I didn't cringe. I didn't have a dirty look on my face. I just continued the conversation with my mother as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening. The look on her face ranged from shock and awe to complete confusion as to how I was allowing this to happen. Her shock wasn't rooted in the fact that a toddler was painting her mother's dress with chocolate ice cream (as I'm sure she experienced far worse with me -- sorry, Mommy!), but rather, in the fact that she knows me better than anyone, and knows that this type of behavior is just enough to set me off.

Not anymore, Mom. It takes way more than a dress covered in ice cream to set me off these days. My daughter was happy, having fun and over the course of the last few years I have, in fact, learned to use a washer and dryer.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Becoming a mother changes your life in so many ways. Your body is changed physically. Your range of emotions is far greater and far more widely used than before, and your adaptability (or, in the majority of my experiences, inadaptability) to most situations is something that only you can predict.

In other words, you no longer look at the woman dripping in chocolate ice cream with a scornful look on your face. You now look at the toddler, who is sitting happily, and give that mom a smile and a nod that says, "I get it. Paint on, little girl."

That same night, my college girlfriends and I were in a group text as we watched our alma mater lose a heartbreaking basketball game in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA tournament. We joked about meeting at our old college bar, wearing old boyfriend's t-shirts for good luck (or, as it turns out, bad luck), and what type of comfy sweatpants we chose to wear while we watched the game (cut-off, just like we did in the dorms, duh!). The conversation quickly turned to a friend who was watching the game with her boyfriend and her parents, one who was too tired to move from installing backsplash and grout in her newly remodeled kitchen, one who had gotten a babysitter so she and her husband could attend the game, and then there was me. Watching the game on mute, in the dark, with a sick child asleep on me. We teased each other about how times have changed and how growing up isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

The mighty, who would have never left the house with a stain, pot or wrinkle on her dress, now walks around dripping chocolate like it's no big deal.

The mighty, who would've had one hand in the air cheering on her team with a beer in the other hand, all whilst losing her voice, now watches games silently in the dark, without moving a muscle as to not wake the sleeping beast...errr... toddler.

But the mighty, who has, in the slightest shift only the universe can detect, has become an adult.

A parent.

A mother.

And that is far mightier than a crisp, clean dress and a drunken basketball game will ever be.