By Chalet Jean-Baptiste
It's 2013, and before you know it, it will be Happy New Year again. But this year is special to me because I turned 33, which means all sorts of revolutionary things will be happening. I'm at Great Wolf Lodge seeing myself in the reflection, staring at my "mommy's" bathing suit - the one that hides all the rolls and tucks all the places that have become too loose.
I am standing in line waiting to get on the water ride that almost promises to make my wig fall off, and I am noticing my nerves. I am contemplating changing my mind. But, I chuckle when I remember how fearless I used to be. Although my kids have made me stronger in so many ways, I have lost the bravado I used to have. Like most mothers, my children are always in the forefront of my mind. No more spontaneous trips to Europe, late night parties, breaking a rule or two, speeding and blasting my music down the highway, dancing to Beyonce's "Say My Name," or adventure parks with roller coasters.
My hands are sweating, my heart is racing, and I am wondering how I escaped the roaring twenties. The things that ruled my life in my early twenties no longer tickle my fancy. My deepest joys come from my son trying to dance like Michael Jackson or my daughter trying to sing like Adele or my baby reaching to give me a kiss, but biting me instead.
This year my daughter turned 10, officially making me a mom for a decade. My daughter and her friends are celebrating her birthday at Great Wolf Lodge. They dance around, laughing and giggling about absolutely nothing. Here I am, standing in this long line, with feelings of insecurity in a bathing suit that might get fired for not doing its job. I think I'm going through a mini, pre-mid-life crisis.
Then, as I'm trying to figure out whether I'm going to pass out from these loud 10-year-olds who sing their silly little songs or the water ride that might make me instantly regret this decision, something amazing happens. My daughter, with sheer excitement of being next in line, breaks out into an impromptu, untimely dance. I watch as her braids reach for the sky and beads fall back down in a clapping sensation. There is no music, but her arms have a constant rotation, as if gravity has taken control. She twirls on her tippy toes in a roundabout movement and I almost tell her to stop acting so silly. However, I couldn't speak. She had no fear, worries, or insecurities, and I was enjoying her freedom.
Then, she grabs my hand and says, "Don't worry, mom. This ride will be a breeze. Just hold onto me if you get scared." All of a sudden, my insecurities and fears disappeared. Just when I was mourning over the loss of my twenties, I realized that I had something far greater. I was creating new memories for now and future decades with my daughter. And, this one was only the first. There's nothing about my twenties that would ever make me want
Chalet Jean-Baptiste is an assistant professor of English at the Manassas campus of Northern Virginia Community College. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org