It was 10 years ago this winter when I closed my eyes, held my breath and took my first financial swan dive into the world of home ownership. I was only 23, which now seems infantile but at the time I was more than ready to avoid cutting my own lawn and spend nice afternoons gazing out my own dirty windows.
Owning a home is a major milestone and it took a long time for my brain to start to wrap itself around the fact that this house was actually mine. It wasn't the first mortgage statement, nor was it the fact that I was now legally tied to a structure next door to a woman who named her dog "Princess Penelope", dressed her in little princess crowns and let her take huge princess craps in my front yard that helped me come to come to this realization.
It actually came one night when I had gone for a walk around the block and was walking up the sidewalk toward the house. As I stood there, looking into the windows from the street something very strange occurred to me.
I owned this grass.
It wasn't the inside, or the driveway, or the bricks that seemed strange... but the grass. I owned grass.
I must have stood out there for 20 minutes, letting my brain adjust to the fact that it was my grass. I remember even bending down and pulling out a couple of handfuls, careful to avoid the princess poop, just because I could.
It was mine... all mine.
I had a similar realization with Ellie yesterday. I was getting her ready for bed, singing our usual lullaby Gin and Juice. Except I replace the words gin and juice with shin and shoes and indo with window, for obvious reasons.
I try to make gangster rap as much of a learning experience as possible until she's at least nine and can appreciate some of the more abstract concepts.
Anyhoo, we were singing and rocking in the rocking chair and I happened to notice her ear. It's the same ear I've looked at every day for the past 14 months, but for some reason it occurred to me that I made that ear. I've watched that ear grow from a microscopic spec on a grainy ultrasound into an actual human ear. An ear that can hear. An ear that someday will probably be littered with holes and cheap earrings from Claire's. And it came from me.
But perhaps the freakier part is that it's taken my brain 14 months to acknowledge that I created that ear.
The entire time I was pregnant I was in denial that there was truly a child in there. And having her via c-section didn't help my brain make the connection - it was like the doctor pulled a rabbit out of a hat when he held her over the curtain. I was certain there was some trickery going on back there and she had actually been dumped off by the baby truck about 20 minutes before they took me in that room.
For a long time after she was born I worried that I didn't feel like I thought I should. Actually, truth be told I still worry about that. Of course when the nurse put her in my arms I didn't think I could love anything more but the magical connection everyone talks about was no where to be found.
I expected that when she was born a switch would automatically be flipped that would instantly make my brain understand that she was mine and !poof! I would feel like a Mom.
But instead of a switch it's been a slow dial that ticks a little to the left with each passing day. And yesterday it must have hit the "I made this ear" setting because I couldn't stop staring at it in awe.
While there's definitely been significant progress, I'm pretty sure there are days when the dial accidentally turns backwards. I think this happens more often to those of us who wait until our mid 30s to have children because we've had more years than others to sharpen our selfish skills.
For example, how the waitress has to point to Ellie and say "anything for her?" most times after I order my lunch and if they don't then she is stuck trying to gum part of my French Dip.
I'm hopeful that by the time she's 18 my brain will have moved beyond the ear and accepted the fact that all of her is indeed mine. Maybe sending her out to mow the lawn will help.