I was giddy with excitement when I discovered Santa heard my wished-for prayers and brought me Amy Poehler’s new book for Christmas.
“Santa, you shouldn’t have!” I said to the handsome black man not-so dressed in a red suit and white beard standing to my right, snapping pictures.
“How did you ever know?”
Old Saint Nick proceeded to roll his twinkly chocolate browns and instead instructed me to help our two-year-old open his next gift. Fleeting as the moment was, I knew the bookworm within would be declaring Kindred Spirit at some point with the woman best known as Leslie Knope.
And indeed, it happened. Between the crass and the funny, the wit and the intelligence, a smirk remained permanently on my face (for the first half of the book, at least – I wasn’t as big a fan in later chapters). I figured I’d find this camaraderie through a snarky aside comment, the kind I too marvel at when my brain is fully engaged and on. Or maybe it’d happen after declaring a hearty Yes Yes Yes to all the successful late 80’s and early 90’s pop culture references. Finally, a woman after my own Doogie Howser heart.
But, no. She and I struck a chord when, near the end of the book, she wrote this about her children:
“When your children arrive, the best you can hope for is that they break open everything about you. Your mind floods with oxygen. Your heart becomes a room with wide-open windows. You laugh hard every day. You think about the future and read about global warming. You realize how nice it feels to care about someone else more than yourself. And gradually, thought this heart-heavy openness and these fresh eyes, you start to see the world a little more. Maybe you start to care a teeny tiny bit more about what happens to everyone in it” (303).
Because, yes. There’s something magical that happens when you become a part of Club Mama (and I’d venture to guess that it happens in the Daddy Brigade as well).
You hear a newborn wailing in the cereal aisle of Target, and while you first breath a sigh of relief that the cries are not of your own, you catch that mama’s eyes and your hazels whisper a silent I’ve been there.
You see the dad attempting to wrestle his two year old into the stroller, child’s arms flailing and legs kicking. You hear the unmistakable hyena-like screams emanating from his unbelievably strong lungs. Just for a second you make eye contact, and you hope he hears what your wrinkled brows are saying: I get it. You’re doing a good job, Dada.
Because these little buggers are our hearts made flesh. They bring out the gooiest, mushiest parts of us, the parts that can’t help but kiss their milk-stained skin just one time more while we’re standing in line at the post office. They frustrate us and they anger us, and we marvel at our own need to take a “space,” while silently repeating the mantra, I will not be defeated by a toddler, I will not be defeated by a toddler…
Or maybe it’s just me.
But a deep to protect and the fiercest of loves rises from within. We will do anything to defend and shield and provide for our cubs. Simultaneously, one glance at their pudgy face and we slowly melt, insides first, then outsides – eyes widen, head tilts, lips part. And this all in a matter of 2.5 seconds.
As if on cue, unprompted mouths utter, “I love you sooooooo much,” and we smother their sticky cheeks with kisses. We squeeze their baby-bodies as if all Life depended on it.
So that’s why Amy Poehler and I are kindreds. This mushy, muddled, magnificent thing called parenthood has knit us together in the most glorious of ways. So to her – and to many of you, I suppose – I raise my right hand, slapping the air in her general direction, air-five our salute.
And Yes Please, Yes Please, Yes Please, give me more of this messy thing called Love.
What about you? How has entering Club Mama or the Daddy Brigade changed you? If you’re not a parent, what “club” do you pridefully take membership in? And Poehler’s book: have you read it?
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