Three times in the past three days, I’ve been mistaken for someone else. At first, I concluded I must have a doppelganger preceding me everywhere I go — walking my neighborhood with two dogs that look like mine, frequenting my favorite coffee shop, browsing titles at the library.
But then, another thought occurred to me: perhaps I’m not as unique as I think I am.
We all want to think we’re extraordinary, don’t we? There are so many vehicles available to fan the flames of that idea: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest … so many ways to say, “Look at me! Look where I am! See how witty I am?”
Growing up, I was small. Short, skinny, bespectacled and knobby-kneed, I didn’t exactly command attention when entering a room. I was notable mostly for how thick my glasses were, but enjoyed a brief period of fame by hypnotizing my fellow classmates. I recall spending an entire sleepover in the school gym getting my friends to mumble incoherently (although, realistically, they were probably faking it) and feeling like a powerful sorcerer.
I was neither popular nor unpopular; neither a mean girl nor a Key Club altruist. But I always envisioned a time when I’d be a famous artist, or a bestselling author. My drawings of trees and appaloosa horses would command thousands at auction. I’d travel the globe doing book signings. I’d sing and dance through the hallways of a New York performing arts high school with a troupe of my fellow students following behind in perfect dance-step.
For years — and my heart beats with mortification as I admit this — my ATM pin was 3-2-6-3.
F. A. M. E.
I can’t — and don’t — blame my kid for the fact that I never did those things. It’s not like I became a teen mom and all my hopes and dreams went out the window. I had plenty of time to do extraordinary things before Hudson came along.
Getting married, buying a house and being a mom to two dogs and a baby — those are about the most ordinary and clichéd things a person can do. And yet, I feel I’m finally doing something special.
Part of growing up and becoming a parent is making peace with a life more ordinary than the one you may have envisioned for yourself. I’m not saying any of us should settle, or that we shouldn’t still strive for the extraordinary. But when you’re a parent, you often find yourself taking the road more traveled.
When I was pregnant, I came across a poem that resonated with me in an incredibly powerful way. Part of me felt uncomfortable with the notion expressed in the poem, as I don’t believe it’s healthy to live my dreams through my son. And, I don’t plan to give up on my plans for my life — that just isn’t the example I want to set for my child.
But my son came along at a time that wasn’t the most convenient for my husband and me. Throughout my pregnancy, I felt apprehensive about the heavy responsibilities of parenthood. I wondered how being a mom would change me, and if that change would be for the worse.
And sometimes, I wondered if my time to lead an extraordinary life was over.
I say, no. My love for my son is extraordinary. My responsibility is extraordinary. The work I have yet to do to be the best mom, wife and friend I can be is extraordinary.
My life is ordinary. My child is — well, he’s mine. One shining, extraordinary accomplishment in life.
To My Child
You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I could not buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky.
You are my Honolulu moon;
You are the book I did not write:
You are my heart’s unuttered tune:
You are a candle in my night.
You are the flower beneath the snow
In my dark sky a bit of blue;
Answering disappointment’s blow
With “I am happy! I have you!”
― Anne Campbell