Years ago when I was a styling assistant, the job would take us to small towns around the country. My boss would laugh every time I walked off a dusty set at the end of the day, take a deep breath and declare, “I could live here!” In my East Village miniskirts and gold jewelry, I didn’t look the part. No one thought I was maternal. I told everyone I didn’t want kids but in reality I was lonely and I didn’t think that starting a family was a possibility. Moreover, I liked the reaction I got when I said it wasn’t for me. Once, back in the production office, I rolled my eyes when a mother of twin girls left at five to have dinner with her family. “I guess all you need to do to leave early is have a couple of kids,” I snarked at someone. Are you cringing? Do you think they knew how hard I was pretending?
Five years later I met the love of my life in a bar. He had a son who wasn’t even two. I was twenty six. We went from zero to sixty in six weeks. Marriage, stepmom, a move to Brooklyn. A few years after that, my grandmother referred to me as a “real country woman” after spending a week together upon the birth of my second son. This was a mothering compliment, and a good one. It meant I rolled up my sleeves and got dirty. It pinpointed why I love being a parent. This work is primal and filled with heart. Raising people feels ancestral, of the earth. It is grounding, fulfilling, satisfying, quenching in a way that nothing else was before, for me.
There is a pride in seeing my children in the world that is unparalleled and relatively unmatched by anything I’ve accomplished so far at work, and that’s okay! There is physical proof of my work, there is the ability to make or break a person’s entire spirit.
This year, for my birthday, my husband gave me the gold “Mama” nameplate necklace I emailed him with exact specifications (we’ve all been there). Now, even when I’m away from my kids, strangers see it and know I am a mother. I wear it like a scar, like a badge of honor, like a crown.