When I was younger, I thought I’d grow up to be the kind of woman who remembers people’s birthdays off the top of her head.
Without a doubt, I’d be the kind who sends anniversary cards that arrive on the exact date, who mails thank you notes in an appropriate amount of time and pens “just thinking of you” letters on pretty stationery for no reason at all. I didn’t foresee becoming the kind of woman whose thank you arrives four months too late and who stretches wedding gift giving to the upper limit of the customary one-year mark.
I thought I’d be the kind of woman who makes her children chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and tucks little notes into their lunchboxes stuffed with balanced, nutritionally-sound meals. I didn’t envision myself buying overpriced yogurt tubes and calling it a meal or letting my son eat plain pasta with cheese sprinkled on top four nights in a row.
I thought I’d be the kind of woman with easy, flawless pregnancies, who loved every minute of gestation and couldn’t wait to fill her house with four—maybe five—babies so we could be just like the chaotic but tight-knit sitcom families of my youth. I had no idea I’d be the kind of woman who lost her very first baby, the kind who occasionally wishes away her pregnant body in exchange for a glass of red wine, the kind who has often considered stopping at two children because, as it turns out, they’re much more expensive than she realized.
I thought I’d be the kind of woman whose house is clean more often than not, who folds clothes each night that her family wore earlier in the day, whose feet don’t turn black when she walks barefoot on her own kitchen floor. I am sincerely surprised that I still haven’t somehow morphed into my own mother, whose house looks like a veritable museum when compared with my cluttered pawn-shop-style dwelling.
I thought I’d be the kind of woman who would always be at home in her own skin, who wouldn’t pinch and scrutinize and cover up from shame or discomfort. I certainly didn’t expect to be the kind of woman who throws away most of her early 20s clawing through a debilitating eating disorder that robbed her of every last shred of self love and would take nearly a decade from which to recover.
I had so many grand visions in my head of the kind of woman I would become someday. These images stayed with me as I navigated my late teens and early 20s; I figured I still had plenty of time to make them a reality. Once I entered my mid 20s, I saw the baton of adulthood being handed down from my parents. I was now the head of my own household—it was time I started bringing thoughtful gifts to family parties instead of tacking my name onto the bottom of my parents’ cards or letting their buffalo chicken dip serve as a contribution from all of us.
Then, suddenly, I was in my late 20s, with one baby and another on the way, when it finally dawned on me: maybe this is just who I was meant to be.
Maybe I never had it in me to be the organic-lunch-packing, just-thinking-of-you-card-sending, pregnant-body-loving woman I always saw myself becoming someday. Maybe I needed to finally let go of the kind of woman I thought I’d be to truly love and respect the woman I really am.
These days, I’m much happier, having finally given up the ghost of that woman who haunted me for most of my adult life. I can accept that I have many good qualities, even if sending timely thank you cards and remembering to dust my fan blades are not among them.
For the first time in my life, I am happy with the kind of woman I am. Even if she’s a far cry from the kind of woman I always thought I’d eventually become.